Effects Of Feed Types On The Growth Performance Of African Giant Land Snails (Archachatina Marginata) In Akwa Ibom State





1.1       Background of the Study

Archachatina marginata are micro livestock and non-conventional wild life protein sources in Akwa Ibom of Nigeria. The survival, growth, development and reproduction of snails like that of other animal species depend highly on housing and quality of feed consumed (Hodasi, 2000). These snails are known to have high feeding potentials than other species and this contributed much to its large size as being giant. Nutritionally, African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata) have voracious appétite that is the ability to eat large amount of food (Omole, 2003).  Snails could eat many different types of plant including peas, cucumbers, pineapple fruits, peels of banana, paw paw fruits and leaves, mango fruits, egg plant, and sweet potato.  Akintomode (2004) stated that snail foods also include grain wastes such as maize chaff, crayfish dust, succulent vegetables including fruits of water melon, paw paw, cassava and cocoyams leaves.  Other foods eaten by snails among others could be flowers, yam, carcasses like dead birds, ants and termites.  Adeyeye (2001) reported that the snails’ ability to utilize a variety of readily available feed materials to achieve appreciable weight gains under intensive management and high dietary value of the meat, makes it suitable and cheaper alternative to other animal protein sources.

From the earliest time, man used many snail species as food.  Currently, Achatina achatina is found to be the most common species in West Africa whereas Archachatina marginata occurs mostly in Nigeria and the Congo Basin (Hodasi, 2000).  Snails are very popular as food delicacies, apart from texture and favourable nutritional value, snails have been reported to have high values of protein and low fat content (Stewant, 2003).  This makes it a healthy alternative for people with high protein and low fat requirements.  Snails are attractive and interesting creatures that are fairly easy to keep as pet and requires little attention.  African giant land snails could live in captivity for 3-7 years with good maintenance whereas native snails could live up to 15 years (CEDVS, 2012).

In terms of medicinal uses, African giant land snails (Archchatina marginata) have numerous functions.  The products from these snails have been used since antiquity (ancient past) and prepared medicure according to several formulations (WHO, 1998).  This historical report traces the understanding of the properties of snails from the time of Hippocrates who proposed the use of snail mucus against Protoccle and Pliny who thought that the snail increased the speed of delivery and was a sovereign remedy to treat pain related to burns, abscesses and other wounds.  In the 18th century, various snail preparations were also recommended for external use with dermatological disorders and for symptoms associated with tuberculosis and nephritis (Brown, 1994).

According to WHO (2005), the therapeutic uses of snails had been on the increase as more scientific researches are carried out.  Some which are worth mentioning, both the meat and fluid could be active ingredients for drug formulations.  The snail meat could be used in the treatment of ulcer, asthma, poor eye-sights, regular eating of snail meat could prevent heart problems, kidney related diseases, and therefore highly recommended for the treatment of diabetes.  Consumption of African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata) reduces iron deficiency, haemorrhoids, constipation, labour pains and blood loss in pregnant women during delivery.  It has been noted that snail meat contains low level of sodium, cholesterol and high level of potassium hence it may be needed in the treatment of arteriosclerosis, anaemia, high blood pressure and other fat related ailments (Efarmspro, 2006).  African giant land snails are also said to be rich in mineral salt such as calcium, phosphorus, iron and copper which are very helpful for the body of its consumers  (Imevbore, 1990).  Snails are used as suppressant in stroke treatment.  Musicians consume snail meat as a means of good voice maintenance and snail restore virility and vitality in humans (Okafor 2001). In traditional medicine, snail meat is used in the preparation of love medicine to restore peace between husband and wife and among wives in polygamous homes (Odaibo 2000). The above stated numerous functions of Archachatina marginata are as a result of quality feeds and proper feeding which constitutes growth.

Quality and balanced feeds are basic determining factors for good growth and physiological performance in every living thing (Agbogidi, Okonta and Ezeani, 2008).  According to Osinowo, Omoyakhi and Abiona (2007) growth is the ability to grow in size, or a process of increasing physically, mentally and emotionally.  Osinowo et al (2007) further opined that growth is measured by the body weight of an animal and that body weight is one of the parameters used to measure growth performance in animals.  The body weight gain is the most widely used growth index from birth to maturity (Hodasi, 2000). Growth performance according to Oji (2000) is the measure of increase in body weight overtime and largely dependent on the amount of nutrient supplied and absorbed by the specific tissues of the body.  According to Ebenso (2003b) a change in body weight relative to the initial weight of an animal is referred to as growth performance.  Ebenso further reported that growth performance is influenced by such factors as genetics, feed types, nutrition, disease, hormones, management systems and species of snails.  Akinnusi (2002) asserted that body weight has been used by both local sellers, buyers and researchers as a parameter for selection of snails.  In the same vein, Okon and Iboro (2010) reported that growth performance in African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata) have generated interest among Nigerian researchers as farmers demand recipes for raising snails to market weight in the shortest possible time.  Okon and Iboro further observed that the hatchlings from one-two months to sexual maturity or six to ten months is the phase during which very rapid growth takes place in snails.  Growth does not stop completely after sexual maturity phase but at a slower rate.  Cobbinah (1993) observed that growth performance in snails vary considerably between individual snails in each population group.  Amusan and  Omidiji (1998) observed that weight gain and shell growth correlate positively with feed intake in snails to show growth.

Recently, wild snail population has declined considerably due mainly to the influence of man and other anthropogenic factors such as persistent drought, environmental degradation, diseases, increasing human population coupled with rising cost of living have placed great pressure on existing conventional sources of animal protein such as chicken, beef, mutton and pork (Omole, Taiwo and Amusan, 2007).  Therefore, there is need to source for non-conventional meat protein sources that are equally nutritious and are capable of bridging the gap.  Hence, the necessity to breed or rear for commercial production of the micro livestock such as African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata) to solve the problem of protein deficiency (Akunnusi, 1998).  The African giant land snails are non-conventional protein source animals whose meat is a highly relished delicacy known as ‘Congo meat’.  It constitutes an important source of animal protein in many coastal communities of Akwa Ibom, Cross River States and other parts of Nigeria (Imevbore, 1990). Imevbore further added that the African giant land snails are noted for good measurable growth parameters if well maintained while in captivity

The parameters for growth performance in this study are; body weight and egg production capacities.  Calibrated weighing scale may be used to determine the weight gain while egg production capacities could be observed and recorded (Emelue, 2006).  Weight gain records may be taken monthly at 30 and 31 days interval while egg production capacities may not be carried out daily till the peak of eggs laying which may be eight to ten months. In the view of Cobbinah (1992), the profitability and attractiveness of the snails’ feed is very important in snail nutrition.  Cobbinah observed that when feed is appetizing or contains a feeding stimulant, snails would eat a lot of it, grow faster and that the type and quality of feeds given to the snails affect growth rate. Abioye and  Ikusika (1998) reported that a mixture of compounding rations like maize, bone meal, minerals, cassava peels, plantain peels and many others have been given to snails.

In this work, both housing and feeding of snails are the main focus.  The African giant land snails could be reared under extensive, semi intensive and intensive systems just as other forms of farm animals.  Extensive method of rearing snail is necessary where there is available land and favourable condition.  Okon, Williams and Etukudo (2010) asserted that for land snails, the soil should be well drained and not water logged.  To prevent snails’ hatchlings from leaving the barn, the land area is cordoned with some expanded metal or bricks or mud wall of about 1-11/2m tall and the top of the fence should be made of wire mesh with narrow opening or the tip of the fence wire should be curved downward to form a cone, an acute angle or an inverted ‘V’ to prevent the snails from escaping. Feeding on free range may have a negative effect on the growth performance of the snails, if the feed stuffs are not adequate.

Semi intensive system of raising snails is just the modifications of the extensive system into a form of cage or pen.  Akinnusi (2004) noted that whether the system chosen is extensive or intensive, it is advisable that shade trees be planted around the pens.  Preferably, shrub and trees whose parts are edible to the snails could be planted, examples are paw paw, plantain and banana and other useful trees.  In this case, the snails are partially fed and this may have negative influence on its growth and development. Intensively, snails may be domesticated in standard pens of 1m x 1m x 1m.  The lids of the pens may be covered with wire mesh to allow proper ventilation.  Here feeds and other necessary requirements are provided for the snails.  Akinnusi (1998) observed that these micro livestocks (snails) if well fed are cheaper sources of animal proteins. Omole (2003) reported that the environment must always be well moistened, for dry conditions could lead to the animals becoming inactive, and unable to move and feed hence death may occur.  High mortality rate would occur as a result of change in the above mentioned environmental conditions. Intensive management system encourages proper feeding and maintenance in order to enhance better growth performance.

African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata) are soft bodied animals without bones but with spirally coiled outer shell which contains the whole snail mass when at rest.  Archachatina marginata  have high advantages of high adaptability, survivability and being prolific in nature (Akinyemi, Ojo and Akintomide, 2007).  Based on its nutritional value in the diet of an average Nigerian, there is need to examine the feeds that could stimulate growth and quicken maturity of snails.  Feeding is a process of giving feeds to animals to enhance growth (Hornby, 2001).  African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata) need quality feeds to enhance growth, reproduction and good health.  Feed is also a propotional and nutritional ingredients given to living organisms to enhance better growth performance Ebenso (2002).   Olaniya (2004) stated that snails usually prefer fresh juicy succulent leaves and vegetables to dry leaves.  Olaniya further observed that snails may avoid hairy plants that produce offensive and harmful chemicals. Besides, formulated diets promote rapid growth and conversion efficiency in animals but they are very expensive (Speakman, 2006).  However, domestication of snail mostly the preferred African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata) involves a lot of consideration such as site selection, housing, feeding and management.  But this work is focussing on effects of feed types to enhance growth performance and egg production.

Feeds are different components of food types or diets required by snails for growth and development in the correct proportion (Adoye, 1997).  According to Onadeko, Oldoyinbo and Shotuyo (2010) the African giant land snails are herbivores, they eat a wide range of plant materials, fruits and vegetables.  They may sometimes eat sand, very small stones, bones from carcasses, compounded feeds and even broken cement blocks as calcium sources for hardening of shell.  In rare instances, the snails could consume each other.  In captivity, these species could be fed on grain products such as bread, digestive biscuits and chicken feed.  Fruits and vegetables must be washed diligently as the snail could be very sensitive to any lingering pesticides residues.  In captivity, snails need calcium source to aid the growth and strength of shells.

Ejidike and Omisade (2007) opined that two sources of feeds are identified for snails, the natural feed sources which consist of leaves, fruits, tubers and household wastes.  Another type of feed source is the formulated feed such as poultry feeds, which are costly and sometimes may not be within the reach of farmers.  But these feeds enhance growth performance when properly used.  Just like other livestock species, snails have several stages of development and each stage requires a certain nutrients for growth.  Odo and Orji (2010) stated that, the nutrients needed by snails are carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, minerals, lipids and water. The requirements for these nutrients vary with each stage of development.  The stages that exist in snails could be classified as hatchlings, juveniles, growers and breeders (Kalio and Etela, 2011).  Hatchlings are newly hatched snails from eggs.  Juveniles are snails that are about one week of age to 6 weeks old.  At this stage, the snails are out of the hatchery.

Grower snails could be of about 30-40g in weight.  These are kept in pens and fed with all the necessary feeds for rapid growth.  From the growers, those that grow faster could be picked out and provided with special fattening diets for fast growth and maturity.  According to Ejidike (2002), snails that are properly fed could reach market weight of 200-300g within eight to twelve months of age with well developed reproductive system.  Gomot (2001) stated that one snail possesses both female and male reproductive organs and after a single mating session, each mature snail could produce an average number of eggs 20 – 24 at once.  Gomot observed that the African giant land snails are characterized by large clutch sizes, moderate incubation period of 27 – 30 days and high percentage of egg hatchability and therefore has a high reproductive potentials which makes the African giant land snail a better species than other species for profitable snail farming.  Eggs laid by these snails under domestication could be incubated in the soil or other incubating medium like saw dust and wood shavings to ease hatchability (Bamimore 2005).  African giant land snails are seasonal breeders whose growth and reproduction could only occur during the rainy season except on effective management (Akinnusi, 2000).  In the dry season, very high level of humidity is expected in order to increase growth performance and reproduction in snail all year round and high quality feed to facilitate growth all year round. Therefore, this study sought to determine the effects of three different feed types on the growth performance of African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata).


1.2       Statement of the Problem

Protein deficiency in human diet has been persistent in Akwa Ibom State due to high cost of macro livestock products such as chicken, pork, mutton among others which are the major sources of animal protein for man.  The price of the protein food materials are so exorbitant in the market that an average man could not afford them all year round.  Mini or micro livestock products such as rabbits, grasscutters and snails with high nutritional values and good protein efficiency in the diet of man are not given adequate recognition and attention in terms of production and consumption.  Many farmers are reluctant to rear and produce snails believing that it is not a fast growing business but on the other hand it could help to reduce the cost of protein food materials and make it affordable to man.

Akinyemi, Ojo and Akintomode (2007) recommended that production and consumption of mini-livestock products (snails) enhance growth and development in man due to its high nutritional value.  Yet many people still depend on the local snails for food which are stunted due to poor feeding habit and lack of nutritive ingredients because there is no available feed ingredients that could stimulate growth and development hence the local snails grow very slowly. Recently, snail farming has been introduced into the school curriculum for secondary school students to acquire skill in snail production (UBE, 2010).  Akinnusi (2007), stated that low animal protein in man could be avoided as protein required for growth and repair of body tissues could be obtained from domesticated snails.

Again, poor attitude to snail production with a wrong conception that snails do die after egg production and could not mature fast rendered the little that is available in the market costly.  Chinwuko (2003) observed that snail farming is a lucrative venture that does not impose cost on its production.  Many people also depend on gathering snails from the bush for food whereas many bushes and forests have given way to urban development thereby reducing the population of the local snails.  This makes the price of snails to be higher.  Few farmers that are into snail farming have a poor skill of feeding snails with many kinds of feed, not knowing the feed that could stimulate or quicken growth, development and egg production.

Oredein, Ogbonna and  Akinnusi (1998) maintained that even leaves and fruits have been given to snails in a  mixture form thereby making it difficult to assess the growth performance of the snails to a particular feed type.  The type of feeds given to snails could determine the extent of nutritional value and growth performance.  Oredein, Ogobonna and Akinnusi suggested that using a specific type of food to feed African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata) may likely enhance growth performance and egg production.  Omoyakhi (2007) noted that some feeds are locally available all year round and could possibly encourage domestication of African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata) all year round though some feeds may be expensive.


1.3       Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to determine the effects of feed types on the growth performance of African giant land snails (Archachatina marginata)  in Akwa Ibom State.  Specifically, the study sought to compare the effects of:

  1. grower mash (GM)and foliage (FL) feeds on the mean body weight of African giant land snails.
  2. vegetable peels (VP) and foliage (FL) feeds on the mean body weight of African giant land snails.
  3. grower mash (GM), vegetable peels (VP) and foliage (FL) feeds on the mean body weight of African giant land snails.
  4. grower mash (GM) and foliage (FL) feeds on the mean number of eggs laid by African giant land snails.
  5. vegetable peels (VP) and foliage (FL) feeds on the mean number of eggs laid by African giant land snails.
  6. grower mash (GM), vegetable peels (VP) and foliage (FL) feeds on the  mean number of eggs laid by African giant land snails.

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