As you can imagine, there are some climates which are not suitable for snails to be out in the open all year round, therefore if you decide to set up a snail farm in a climate that has very cold winters, the process is slightly different and the investment is slightly higher.
How to set up a snail farm
Snail farming often requires an investment, but the costs can be reduced if you use the knowledge of experienced breeders. First, you will need a building for reproduction and something called a breeding park – for fattening the snail. The size of these buildings will depend to your ambition and need as the breeder. You can start breeding edible snails in several ways:
- purchasing breeding snails or mother snails (the reproduction snails)
- purchasing snail eggs
- purchasing baby snails
Snails need to be able to graze and move around on very different substrates, and hey must produce a lot of snail mucus or snail slime to do this. To help them produce enough snail mucus their environment needs to have a high percentage of humidity – that’s why the breeding areas needs to be constantly watered. Furthermore, the temperature and composition of the soil play a very important role.
Snails like warmth and the optimal temperature for them is between 16-22 ° C. The soil should have a higher lime content – then the substrate will contain heat for longer which will in turn promote the growth of snails. Liming is the application of calcium- and magnesium-rich materials in various forms to soil. These materials are marl, chalk, limestone, burnt lime or hydrated lime. In acid soils, these materials react as a base and neutralize soil acidity.
The breeding parks are used for fattening the snails – this is the period needed to achieve the correct weight, shape and hardness of the shell therefore suitable for trade. You can also put a plastic tunnel in the field, to which you then begin to transfer babies in mid-April, however this is only recommended where it is absolutely necessary due to harsh climatic conditions. Normally, we advise against this idea due to additional costs, labour costs and possible losses when moving snails from the tunnel to the park.
How to prepare a fence?
In the breeding park you must put up a fence which prevents snails escaping to the wild. To do this you can put up a special small fence which consists of agrofabric, stakes, salt bar and a board forming a roof. The agrofabric is buried in the ground at about 30 cm and stretched on the structure, and this will prevent snails from getting underground and on the ground. You can then put salt tablets in front of the fence, and this will effectively discourage snails from escaping the enclosure. In the field you can plant vegetation to serve as additional food and shelter for snails.
What kind of hydration system should be installed?
Because snails are kept in an indoor enclosure, you need to remember to hydrate their living area twice a day – in the morning and evening, and depending on the weather. If you want to simplify this you can install hanging sprinklers in order to have a better effect than standing ones. Irrigation companies often carry out projects as part of your purchasing their equipment so you can use them to install the hydration system for you.
Make sure there are no dry spots on the field where water might not reach snails, for example when the wind blows harder. For your water source one idea is to dig a deep well, but you have to choose the right pump power so that it is not too weak for the number of sprinklers.
Right, so you have created the breeding park, put up a fence, planted plants as food, and you have put a watering system in place. Now in order to achieve good results in breeding snails, it is very important to maintain the breeding park daily and create the best possible conditions for snails. After all, your snails have to feel happy and healthy in order for them to reproduce, grow and mature to the right size.
Daily activities of a snail farmer consist of:
- Ensuring the snails have not escaped outside (preferably in the morning)
- Checking the condition of the fence (rodents can perforate the grid)
- Ensuring that the plants don’t grow higher than the fence (this facilitates escaping the snails)
- Hydrating the living area to maintain adequate humidity
- Washing pastures with running water – especially before feeding (this prevents wind blowing)
- Feeding snails by spreading the feed on the pallets evenly
Depending on the number of the breeding snails, you need to have a suitable room to host them. For a breeding group of 5,000 snails you need to have a reproduction area of 30-40 m2. You need to provide perfect conditions such as temperature, humidity, light and nutrition, for snails to have optimal environment to reproduce.
The most ideal temperature for Helix aspersa Maxima snails is 21 °C. The temperature should not go above 30 °C because this will make snails go into aestivation state – state of inactivity and a lowered metabolic rate.
The most optimal humidity required for snails is 80% (±5%). If the humidity is too high it can cause their shell to peel off.
Another important element in the life of a snail is also light. Appropriate lighting will increase the intensity of reproduction.
To regulate all these factors you can install a sensor and connect it to your mobile phone so you can monitor the conditions on your snail farm at any time and from any location.
The building for snail reproduction should be equipped with:
- heating system – to keep the right temperature
- ventilation holes – to enable air circulation
- water source – to maintain the right level of humidity
- source of light – ideally to provide 16-hour days for snails
- reproduction tables / shelves – for reproduction to take place within them
- mugs with soil – for snails to lay eggs
If you are looking to start a snail farm and need basic information on snails and all the things you need to consider, you can purchase our Guide to Snail Farming here.
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