Snail farming has not become a popular business in Poland yet. Consequently, there is some room left for fast development for people interested in this branch of farming. Great demand for snails on western markets together with relatively low production costs in Poland makes this business worth considering and quite low risky.
Helix aspersa Muller ( called petit gris) is the most favorably bought species on the market. Its prices are high in comparison with other species of snails which was the main reason for us to start breeding it. Snail farming is a business almost for everybody. It requires neither high initial investment nor expensive facilities and equipment.
At present we distinguish three major methods of Helix aspersa Muller farming, namely:
I. Closed farming. - It is run in buildings throughout the year. It is the most time-consuming method. It requires the highest starting investment and its range is limited by the size of buildings. In terms of investment the cost of getting one kilogram of snail is the highest. The main disadvantage of this method is a necessity to keep high hygienic standards.
II. Summer open-air pens. - Some experience is needed. The climate in Poland is not ideal for this method, which may cause some problems to inexperienced breeders. It is used mainly for fattening those snails that did not reach proper size in their previous season and still need some time to grow. Green plants are the basis of snails’ diet in this system.
III. Mixed farming. - The most popular method in Poland and the most economical one at the same time. The breeding process is run from the early spring in buildings. Then snails are transferred to polytunnels equipped with heating and finally snails get to open- air pens in summer.
Every building must comply with technical requirements. It should be equipped with running water, sewage system, electricity, heating and ventilation system. The building size depends on the size of breeding stock. It is estimated that a breeding stock of 5000 snails requires about 20- 30 square meters. Incubation and hatching stage take place there.
Open- air pens.
are designed for fattening snails. These are carefully prepared places with running water in the open air. Snails are good at escaping from enclosures. A priority is a well fenced-in area that prevents snails from escaping and protects them against natural enemies such as birds or rodents. It is very important from economical point since good fencing helps keep mortality to a minimum. In order to have a high quality snails pens cannot be overcrowded. The proper density is essential. To gather one ton of snails an area of 400 m 2 is needed. Snails may be kept in smaller pens in polytunnels until mid April before they are finally transferred to open- air pens in May. This procedure is used at my farm. It enables young snails to leave buildings earlier, which positively affects their growth.
To succeed in this business you have to provide snails with optimal conditions These are:food ,temperature, soil, humidity, lighting and ventilation.
Air temperature. It is one of the most significant factors that determines proper breeding process. The optimal temperature for Helix aspersa Muller is between 15ºC and 20ºC in polytunnels for small snails and about 20º - 25º C in open-air pens .Temperature below 12º C or above 30ºC hinders the growth since snails start to hibernate. The optimal temperature in a breeding building is between 16ºC -19ºC.
Humidity ideal humidity for steady growth is 90% (±5%). Molluscs are very active then, which whets their appetite. However, humidity that is too high may lead to separating the columella fold from shell and consequently to death. In turn, low humidity results in creating undesirable epiphragm . In breeding buildings dampening of the stock is used with15 water. For steaming open-air pens cold water is used.
Lighting A good lighting system in the breeding buildings is as important as other factors. Appropriate length of “Illuminating day” encourages snails to higher activity, which corresponds to better breeding results. The breeding stock should be lit for about 18 hours per day by artificial light. There should be no daylight in a building since it is the artificial light that enables us to regulate the beginning of the night time for snails. We should complete all the hygiene procedures before that moment.
Ventilation., during breeding process a lot of toxic gases appear that may have irritative influence on snails immunity system. The proper ventilation should be correlated with the place humidity. It happens to exceed 100% especially at cleaning their rooms which is not good at this stage of breeding. Keeping the building properly ventilated is essential.
All the factors that have been mentioned above maybe easily controlled by means of numerous sensors and detectors. The price of such devices is quite affordable.
The soil. used in snail farming should be prepared carefully. The soil ph value in the pots for laying eggs should be between acid and neutral to allow snails dig into it easily .However, the most important are penetrability and consistence. The mould is the best choice. Water may penetrate it easily and it is free from parasites and germs.
The soil should be sterilized by means of thermal treatment at 260º C for 5-10 minutes .The soil in pots should have pH 3.5- 4.5, which prevents development of germs in incubator pots. The peat is used in most cases. Pearlite is used by some breeders. It may contain heavy metals that may affect snails badly. In open-air pens soil should be enriched with some amount of calcium.
Feeding. snails must be fed properly. Using proper food enhances the growth of snails and guarantees their healthy condition. There are two types of food that are used:
-and fodder made of carefully chosen components.
At my farm I use both types. Nutri -stemp fodder and food supplements are the basis of snails diet at my farm.
At the last stage of farming green plants are best food supplement.
How to start.
You can start snail farming in a few ways :
- from eggs,
- from small snails,
- from parental stock (grown and sexually mature snails that you breed and rear the small ones).
We provide our trading partners with all necessary information and advice at every single stage of breeding process.
Your success is ours.
We encourage you to visit our blog (http://ecosnails.bloog.pl/), where you can find more information at the latest news.