Heliculture, which is the process of farming or raising snails, has become very important in recent times because of increased animal protein shortage in Nigeria. Also, the availability of some edible snails in Nigeria, their popularity and acceptability nationwide, the potential for export, including the emerging technologies for their production have largely contributed towards the present renewed interest in snail farming (Amusan and Omidiji, 1998). Ebenebe (2000) pointed out that it is high time we looked inward and integrate into our farming system some non-conventional meat sources like snails. This will go a long way in reducing the problem of protein malnutrition, which is real in most developing countries of the world. These countries are mostly located in the warm humid tropics where the level of animal protein intake represents about one-tenth of the level of intake in the advanced countries (Esonu, 2001). Kehinde et al., (2002) reported that the protein consumption in Nigeria is below 67g recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Snail farming can conveniently be done in our back yards. This is due to the fact that snail farming is environmentally friendly and can be done with little skill (Akinnusi, 1998; NRC, 1991). The faecal matters neither smell nor make the environment filthy in any way. Snails are also good converter of vegetable protein to useful animal protein (Obi et al., 2001). They provide a very cheap source of high quality animal protein for human consumption. Snail farming is also a high profit-yielding venture and requires little capital when compared to other forms of animal farming. Thousands of land Snails can be raised in a small land space if intensively managed and there is always less need for vaccination and therapeutic drugs. Predators, parasites, and disease can easily be prevented through proper housing, management, and sanitation. These comparative advantages over other live stocks should be used as an edge to increase snail production.
Snail production has gone to an advanced stage in America, Europe and Asia but in Africa, much research work has not been carried out (Rebecca and Sheldon, 2004). The species of snail that are common in temperate regions are Helix aspersa, Helix pomatia, Helix lucorum, Helix cibeta, Iberus alonensis and Otala-puntata. Those species that are common in tropical African include Achatina achatina, Achatina fulica, Archachatina marginata, Archachatina ventricosa, Archachatina degneri and Limicolaria species. In West Africa, Archachatina marginata of Nigeria and Achatina achatina of Ghana are the two largest species of snails. Achatina achatina produces the highest number of eggs of about 100-500 eggs per clutch. Other snails of African origin produce less number of eggs of between 5-15 eggs per clutch. Achatina achatina is also known to be the tropical species of snail that is most accepted in the World market (Amusan and Omidiji, 1998).
Snail meat competes favourably with poultry egg and flesh in essential amino acids and digestible protein (Imevbore, 1990). It is essentially rich in lysine, leucine, isoleucine,phenylalanine,arginine and tryptophan and contains high level of iron, calcium and phosphorus (Dada et al., 1999). The galacton present in its abdominal gland serves as a medicinal substance of high immunological value, which cures tuberculosis, ulcer, asthma and circulatory disorders. Okonkwo et al. (2000) also pointed out that snail meat is useful in the treatment of some human diseases like anaemia, hypertension, asthma, etc. while its shell can be used in the production of buttons, rings and other jewelry. It is unequivocally clear that the importance of improving snail production cannot be overemphasized.
Success in snail production involves among other things proper nutrition. Nutrients such as energy, protein and minerals should always be provided. According to Olomu (1995), protein functions mainly in tissue growth, Carbohydrate (in nitrogen-free extract) provides the necessary energy for metabolic activities, while calcium functions in shell growth (Akinnusi 1988). Stievenart (1992), Omole et al. (2000) and Ejidike (2001) pointed out the need to use complete balanced feeds in snail production. Feed formulated to meet the snails specific nutritional requirement has the effect of enhancing the growth performance of snails. Their maturity and attainment of market weight can equally be attained within a shorter time. The use of different protein feed ingredients is of immense value towards this achievement. The most expensive component of supplemental animal feed is protein. Therefore, the investigation of diet protein level requirement of Archachatina marginata is important using different protein sources. The study was aimed at evaluating the response, in terms of growth performance and nutrient utilization of Archachatina marginata fed different crude protein diets from different protein sources.
- Statement of Problem
The animal protein intake of Nigerians is low and this has led to an acute malnutrition amongst the greater percentage of the rural populace[FAO,1986]. Kehinde et al. (2002) reported that the protein consumption in Nigeria is below 67g recommended by the World Health Organization. The fact that the present level of livestock production cannot meet daily demand for animal protein calls for urgent strategies for promoting micro livestock (Ngonpayou, 1992).
The growth, development and reproduction of an animal are highly dependent on the quality of its feed. Moreover, the survival and well being of any confined animal depend greatly on the availability of acceptable and balanced food materials.
However, one problem facing the rearing of snail is formulating an improved diet that will meet the nutrient requirement of snails. In order to do this successfully, attention has to be given to protein, because it plays important role in growth, maintenance, hormonal and enzymatic activities.
- Objectives of the Study
The experiment was designed to:
- determine the effect of different protein feed ingredients in the diet of growing snails.
- determine the effect of different levels of inclusion of the protein sources on growth performance and carcass characteristics of growing snails.
- determine the cost of feeding graded levels of different protein feed ingredients to growing snails.
The protein sources used in compounding the experimental diets are composed of varying quantities and qualities of amino acids. The growth performances of animals are generally dependent on the quality of feed consumed.
The quantity of protein utilized in a given quantity of feed consumed is a measure of the protein value. Different levels of inclusion of protein in diets may or may not show any difference in the growth performance of the animals consuming such feeds. However, there is always a threshold quantity of protein to be included in diets for effective growth and performance. This has necessitated the inclusion of the test protein at four different levels of crude protein value.
Finally, that the cost of feed account for about 70% of the cost of production is no longer news. Based on this assertion, a measure of relativity between growth performance and cost of feed consumed was ascertained. Hence, the cost benefit ratio of the different protein levels was estimated.