Feeding water snails to chickens

Water snails

Homemade scoop netWe’re considering raising snails for our chickens this year, so I was excited to notice that our little pond was chock full of snails a couple of weeks ago.  Could we skip all the hard work and just harvest water snails for our hens?

After thinking through
lots of complicated methods of getting snails out of the water, Mark
suggested just scooping them off the walls of the pond with a net. 
I couldn’t find our net, so I made one out of a clothes hanger and a
mesh bag.  It worked perfectly, snagging about a dozen snails in
less than a minute.  I also accidentally scooped up a few other
water critters, like the dragonfly larva pictured below.

Dragonfly larva

Then came the moment of
truth.  Would our hens eat tadpole snails?  I tossed the
contents of the net into the chicken tractor, and the dragonfly larva
was gone nearly immediately.  A Red Star picked up one of the water
snails, too, and made short work of its thin shell, but she didn’t seem
impressed by the taste, leaving the rest of the snails alone. 
Even after I crushed
Chicken taste testthe
snails with a sledgehammer, the hens continued to turn up their
noses.  I guess tadpole snails aren’t on their preferred menu.

Will other snail
varieties fare better in the chicken taste test?  I’m not sure, but
will be careful to test any variety I want to raise on the flock before
going to great lengths to multiply its numbers.  After all, why
start a snail-farming operation if our hens are molluscophobes?

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  1. Erica March 25, 2014
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