Sometimes the most incredible idea can generate income. Breeding snails is even easier than raising birds or rabbits: snails are not picky about their diet, they require less attention, time, space and expense. You can arrange a snail farm in a couple of boxes.
Tens of thousands of small and medium-sized farmers who are sometimes engaged in the most unexpected business are working next to large agricultural holdings that do business in many sectors of the agro-industrial complex immediately. Imagine, for 10 months of 2016, Ukrainian companies exported 347 tons of snails. Despite the fact that it is small farms that are engaged in snail breeding, and in Europe, it is believed that this is a family business for the lazy.
Snails have unique meat
Fashion for him came to us from Europe. In Italy, Spain, France, and Greece they are often eaten for dinner with a glass of good wine. And in Ukraine, they are served only in the most expensive restaurants. The taste is remotely like chicken.
Dietary meat, contains vitamins, protein, iron, and calcium, is quickly absorbed, improves gastrointestinal tract function and potency, and is useful for elderly and pregnant women. Therefore, it is so expensive – from $ 10 per kilogram. However, Ukrainians prefer to earn money on breeding, rather than eat snails.
In 2016, Ukraine exported snails 7 times more than fat – 347 tons of snails versus 51 tons of fat. Ukrainian snails are bought in Romania and Lithuania for 1 dollar per kilogram. There they are processed and sold to France, Hungary, Italy, and Poland for 5.5-6.6 dollars per kilogram.
Not all snails are edible.
Most often, Ukrainian farmers breed grape snails, which are also called Burgundy snails, as well as large gray snails Helix Aspersa Maxima and small gray Helix Aspersa Muller. The latter is popular with Polish consumers and entrepreneurs.
You can also eat snail caviar.
In Ukraine, the most grape snails, they are also the most valuable. Their meat is healthier than other species. They are called grape because they were first discovered on a grape leaf. They live in gardens, kitchen gardens, hollows, in grass and flowers, for the winter they dig themselves underground. And they crawl through the grapes in search of food.
They live long, on average 8–9 years. In autumn and winter, they hibernate, waking up only in April. With the onset of early autumn cold weather, they begin to dig into the soil to a depth of 10 cm, in rare cases, up to 30 cm.
The color of the shell of grape snails depends on the habitat: in a dry place, the shell is lighter and harder, in a humid environment it is darker and softer.
First, you need to collect the herd
Yes, you read it right, a group of snails is called a herd. They are hermaphrodites, the offspring will be able to produce any mollusk. Grape snails usually have up to 60 calves per year. You can get them in gardens, meadows, kitchen gardens, flower beds. But it is unlikely that you will be able to find 500 pieces in a short period of time, and there is no senseless – it will not be possible to form a broodstock and make a profit.
You can buy both individually and by weight, it is even more profitable.
Snail business is well developed in Poland, so you can find the highest quality snails there. If you are serious about breeding these mollusks, head to Poland for the first broodstock that you will use for breeding.
In addition, in Poland, you can improve their skills in their cultivation.
You can’t do without registration of activity
At a minimum, you need to register as an entrepreneur, draw up documents for a code of activity related to fish products, crustaceans and mollusks (KVED 05.00.11.300) and be prepared for veterinary inspection. Snails can be delivered to Ukrainian restaurants and exported to Europe only if there is a certificate confirming the quality of the meat.
Breeding snails requires patience
They need comfortable conditions. The ideal temperature for maintenance is 23 degrees Celsius. The soil should be saturated with calcium and moistened regularly, in dry they will not multiply. If the snail does not create suitable conditions, it will not rush with offspring – the snails can hold embryos for a long time. In the corrals of the snail farm, you need to clean up regularly, otherwise, they will fall ill and die.
The snail is ready for use at the age of six months to three years, but most often in a year and a half.
After mating, both individuals lay eggs
Most often they breed from March to May. Two weeks after mating, they are ready to lay eggs. This takes the mollusk for about two hours. Caviar snail falls asleep. After about three weeks offspring are born. Experts advise to allocate a special molluskaria and to plant their individuals who began the mating season. Then all the caviar will be in one place and it will be more convenient to get it.
Create several pens where snails will grow up to six months. As they grow unevenly, tracking offspring is easier by distributing them in size.
Two optimal methods for breeding snails: pens and greenhouses
Two methods of snail breeding have taken root in Ukraine. The first is “natural” when snails are bred outdoors in pens. In this case, the costs are minimal: for feed and materials for fences. However, there are more minuses than pluses. It is necessary to protect snails from predators, it is more difficult to control humidity, this method is suitable only for summer.
The second option is greenhouses. In greenhouses, it is possible to breed not only in the summer, but more investments are needed. For 15 kg of broodstock, 750 adults, 4 square meters are needed. m of indoor space for the herd, 18 square meters. m rooms for the incubation of eggs and young animals, 8 plastic boxes 1×0.5 m for adult snails of the broodstock, 150 plastic ditches for keeping young animals of small sizes, several metal shelves, 400 sq. m fenced aviary for growing the main herd.
Snails can feed on fallen leaves, weeds, cabbage, strawberries, raspberries, dandelions, sorrel stems, and other plants. You should also feed them with powdered milk, animal feed, and chalk. Proportions depend on the number of individuals in the herd. To make them large and fleshy, you need special food for snails.
You can sell snails both alive and processed.
Once the first batch has reached the optimum level of growth at which they can be removed from the shell, at about 9 months, select the largest individuals for broodstock. And the rest can be sold.
Before you kill a snail, you need to starve it for 3-4 days, so the body will be cleaned as much as possible. After that, kill and remove the sink from it. Then quickly freeze and send for sale.
You can sell live snails. But it is impossible to keep near living and dead individuals.
A farm near Vinnytsia provides shellfish restaurants in Ukraine
Entrepreneur Dmitry Butenko drew attention to the mollusks in the supermarket. I was surprised at the high price and decided to try to breed snails on my own. The herd for the farm brought from Latvia. Raises grape snails in an old garden near Kozyatin in the Vinnytsia region, and processes it in a special workshop near Kyiv. Snails from his farm can be tasted in domestic restaurants. The production is practically waste-free, since many shellfish shells deteriorate during the extraction of meat, and those that remain are in demand by artists and designers.
Snail breeding is just one example of an unusual business. But not even they can be earned in different ways. In addition to meat, you can grow them for cosmetic purposes. But this is completely different mollusks and a different niche.