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Snail control (not slugs)

 
Sandra Ellane
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
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Even though I live in a dry desert region, my yard has a LOT of snails. As I green up areas around my lot, they get overrun with snails. I've looked through the various threads- especially the really good one that discusses which ducks are good for slug control (http://www.permies.com/t/9990/critter-care/sorts-ducks-slug-control), and I watched Paul's video showing delighted ducks snarfing up slugs.

But most of the threads really address slugs, not snails. Do ducks even eat snails? I'm talking some pretty large ones- the size of a Kennedy half dollar in diameter. In Paul's video those ducks looked like they had a hard time getting down the larger slugs. How would they fare with a hard shell to boot?

So, onto my next question: I want to raise chickens instead of ducks. It is hard to supply them with a steady water source here (well, I probably could, but with with a guilty conscience and a very high city water bill); the past couple of summers we hardly got enough rain to fill the rain barrels, and the city enforces water restrictions, so I fear ducks would not be happy quackers in this arid place.

Do chickens eat snails? Maybe they would find it fun to pick the soft gooey center out of the crunchy candy shell?
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Have you considered eating some of the snails yourself? http://blog.gourmandia.com/2010/01/01/how-to-cook-snails/

I'm not sure chickens will eat large snails as they find them in the garden because they might not be able to break the shells. They'll probably eat any snails you collect and smush for them. They may also eat small snails. But this is mostly guesswork on my part, I've not had both snails and chickens at the same time. We're fortunate to have only very small native snails here, which don't seem to care about the garden.
 
Sandra Ellane
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
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You know, I did forget about that choice. I've also heard that after collecting them you should feed them cornmeal to clean their systems out. That is definitely an alternative.

Plus, if I can keep up with the larger ones maybe the chickens could handle the smaller ones. Thanks Tyler.
 
Katy Whitby-last
Posts: 280
Location: North East Scotland
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forest garden goat trees
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I believe guinea fowl will eat snails
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Be warned: in my experience, guineas are crazy, upredictable, make a really, really annoying racket and keel over dead for no apparent reason
The European song thrush is a keen snail-eater, smashing snails on a favoured 'anvil' stone. You may have a local version?
 
Sandra Ellane
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
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I'm in the city, on a lot that's roughly 20 by 35 meters with neighbors on all sides, so I need to be careful with what animals I choose. It's not one of the newer McMansion neighborhoods that is completely uptight about every blade of grass, but I don't want to stand out too much and cause strife (I'm already teetering on the fringe of that ).

The plus side is that the city lets us have chickens. Also, I've been working for quite a while on building up some green in my yard, and birds really love it- there's even a small hawk that visits. But so far none of them want to go after the snails.

I was hoping to get around collecting them. In the area with the heaviest infestation I can easily round up a solid liter of them after a rain, just by picking up what is crawing on the walk path. But it doesn't seem to make a dent, and I'm looking for something that can manage itself without as much of my input.

You know, something just popped in my head. Years back a friend requested some of my snails to feed a turtle. I forgot all about this till now. Maybe I should look into getting a turtle or two.
 
                
Posts: 51
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Hi Sandra,

A lot of chickens will happily eat snails, even large ones as they peck at them verses try to bite the whole thing like ducks do. To encourage it I would make sure they are introduced to them at a young age or have a chance to learn from another chicken.

Beer traps are another eco-friendly options. I also pay my son and his friends 3 cents per snail. They love going out after dark with a flashlight.
 
Sandra Ellane
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
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Thanks Blue Dog, that gives me hope
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Just reading that cardinals and some of the other small beak birds love snails, and a couple other types like em for gullet rough, so chickens should love em. More calcium !

Try planting some elderberry to bring the birds in.

some folks say very rough materials will keep em out of certain areas, but we see em all over the rough concrete here too. They wont move onto the mine slag though.

If you are starting plants, and they are taking them, you can get copper foil to put around them. Think you have some electronic chip makers around there, and they sell off defective copper foil from chip production as surplus. look up a couple metal recyclers, and there is a MAJOR electronics surplus guy out there too. He may be closer to Los Alamos or Escondido? tho.
 
Sandra Ellane
Posts: 71
Location: New Mexico high desert Zone 7a, alkaline soils. 9" average annual rainfall.
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Thanks Morgan. Yep, these snails are pretty tenacious. They crawl up my stucco house. Back in the fall I repaired some stucco and when I knocked the loose stuff off, the snails were behind it.

There's already a lot of birds (I have a really large mulberry tree that they love as well as lots of other bushes, etc), but there probably not the the ones that go after snails. I think roadrunners would, but I haven't seen any up in this neighborhood unfortunately. I do however have elderberry seeds in my fridge stratifying in preparation for growing, so that is good to know!

Are you talking about The Black Hole? http://www.blackholesurplus.com/index.html

It's pretty famous, fun, and eclectic. Been in a few movies. You're right- It is up in Los Alamos (I'm in Albuquerque). Years ago I worked at Sandia Labs down here and every other Friday they'd let the employees scrounge around in their salvage yard and buy up junk (sorry, treasures) for cheap. Don't know if they do that anymore but it brings back memories.
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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When we walk our goats we bring a bucket and collect all the snails we can find for our chickens. They love them! But if you turn your chickens loose on the yard, not only will you not have any snails, but you won't have any plants either!
-greg
 
greg patrick
Posts: 168
Location: SoCal, USDA Zone 10b
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Pic of my favorite snail wranglers picking up some chicken dinner for their girls. As soon as we got back to the ranch the chickens ate the snails, shells and all, right off her jacket. She set aside the four largest snails in the compost bin so they can multiply. We actually wish we had MORE snails. It's no wonder her chickens lover her!
emily snails.jpg
[Thumbnail for emily snails.jpg]
 
gani et se
Posts: 215
Location: Douglas County OR
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I especially like her "ring"
 
                      
Posts: 76
Location: Austin,TX
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Leila Rich wrote:Be warned: in my experience, guineas are crazy, upredictable, make a really, really annoying racket and keel over dead for no apparent reason
The European song thrush is a keen snail-eater, smashing snails on a favoured 'anvil' stone. You may have a local version?


Then you should come check my guineas out.
Only go noise if there's something out there (hawk...etc) and are extremely tough birds.
Have one (Falcon X) that survived a hawk attack, lucky for him I was there to scare off the hawk right after, but he had been sliced from right shoulder to left butt and was coughing up blood for a bit but has fully recovered.
Very predictable too, have their routes when they go free range outside my place, do their loop and come back in.

Think it's all in how you raise them when young. If you really work them they'll be like parrots and will ride on your shoulder.

Fantastic permaculture birds that won't tear your garden up like chickens, highly recommend them if you're willing to put the upfront time in with them.
But once you 'train' the parents they pass down those habits to the next generation.

Plus the eggs are on another level from chickens. Same goes for the meat too.

But they don't eat snails...they are attracted to fast moving bugs/lizards/small animals/snakes etc.

ape99

how guineas should behave...


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPSDBkIJPKw
 
Tony Gurnoe
Posts: 21
Location: Encinitas, California
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If you can get your hands on some decollate snails they're easy to breed and will take care of your brown garden snail problems indefinitely.
 
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