A breeder is usually a busy person. Still, they are a little less preoccupied when young snails are transferred from polytunnels to open- air pens. Snails stay there until they reach a suitable size to be gathered.
Preparing open-air pens.
Before the start of your first season you should have the soil carefully prepared, most favourably in preceding autumn. All the plants should be removed but it must be done without the use of herbicides.
When the soil preparations are successfully completed or if it is going to be your second season there is time to scarify it. It should be done by means of rotovator in March /April. Then you sow plants that are suitable for snails. The time of sowing depends on the choice of plants. Many breeders consider PERKO ( a species of agrimony)
As the best choice. It forms dense green mass. There is one disadvantage, though. The price of PERKO is four times higher than BRACHNINA ( another species of agrimony) which, in turn, may grow too high if you sow it too early..
At my farm I use the combination of 5 different types of seeds that you can buy at nutri- stemp.com. After sowing plants you have to water them regularly to ensure their growth. When the plants sprout, we install feeding racks. You can install all of them or every second one to leave some room for plants. Finally, every 100sqm should be equipped with 50 feeding racks – 1.5mx0.5m each.
Transferring young snails from polytunnels to open-air pens.
Depending on the way we kept snails In polytunnels, we transfer them on the box pallets or pieces of foil directly to open-air pens where we wash them. Remember not to damage still fragile shells. Transferring takes place in April/May. Fitting precise netting should precede as it protects snails against spring freezes. In case of open –air pens transferring takes place in the late May unless the plants are big enough to protect snails the way the netting does.
Everyday running of open- air pens.
You should not take any activity in pens until evening hours. When the sun is not so intense we start steaming the place. Then when all the sectors in pens are moist enough we place food directly onto wooden feeding racks and plants.
Next step is to steam again to make the pen humidified, which whets snails’ appetite and as a result of it stimulates their fast growth. Moreover, steaming may be used at night during dry season.
With snails’ growth we should monitor the situation in particular sectors of open-air pens. Any soil deterioration require fast reaction. Some probiotics that stop decay of food scraps and droppings should be used.
Using proper probiotics means making scraps of food and waste ferment instead of decay. Consequently, we can get rid of them fast and easily and keep high standards of hygiene in the place. Besides, probiotics support plants’ growth and snails’ health. Another thing not to be neglected in everyday running of open-air pens is to control density. Snails from overcrowded sectors should be removed to more remote within the pen.
Rodents. It is another problem to face. Young snails prey victim to beetles, frogs, toads, lizards or birds. Other animals that can do a lot of harm to snails are: hedgehogs, moles and rats. A population of rats is able to destroy a farm of 10t of snails value. To avoid unnecessary loss every sector should be regularly monitored. Pest control points is a must-have.
At the onset of August we start gathering snails. Gathering time may last until November. It depend of the farm size and number of snails.
There two main ways of collecting snails:
-You can gather all snails at the end of the season.
-Or you can pick mature snails out of the pen systematically throughout a few months. Both ways have their advantages and drawbacks. Each methods involves having different infrastructure connected with preparing snails for sale. Food consumption is also different depending on the way we choose.
lek. wet. Tomasz Stempień