The annual consumption of snails in the world market exceeds 120 thousand tons, and the supply covers demand only by 60-70%. This business does not require a lot of start-up capital, it does not have too much competition, and if you seriously approach its organization, it can regularly bring a good income.
Snail breeding, or heliceculture, is livestock raising with high added value. Most of the living “goods” are exported to EU countries, which is why Ukrainian exports are developing. This industry has a lot of prospects. Snails are also used in cosmetology and pharmacy, they produce snail caviar (the most expensive, not counting beluga caviar). And even gastronomic tourism appeared – a completely new trend for Ukraine. It is developed, for example, by the Zdravlik company, which grows snails on two open-type farms.
Over the past four years, the market has grown a hundred times. The export of Ukrainian snails to the European Union increased from 4 tons in 2012 to 380 tons in 2017. This is a business with good added value. In relatively small areas with high profitability, a sufficiently large amount of delicacy can be produced.
Why is everyone delighted with these mollusks?
Snails – animals are not particularly fastidious in care, do not require close attention and can regularly generate income. Before you write a business plan for this lucrative idea, you should still get acquainted with the types and features of their content, study the process of breeding snails and think out sales markets – the success of your enterprise depends on this. Actually, we already wrote about this earlier.
Gastropods (or gastropods) is a scientific term for the mollusk class, numbering more than a thousand species. The meat of snails is 70% pure protein, and 30% amino acids; it contains no cholesterol and fats. Nutritionists and cosmetologists consider these animals a panacea, and restaurateurs are a delicacy. Snail caviar is considered the most expensive, and mucus is a rare and very valuable product, the cost of which exceeds several kilograms of snails for purchase.
Which snails to choose for breeding?
There are several types of edible snails. The most famous is the Helix and Achatina. The latter grow very quickly, without breaks in hibernation, and the size of their shells can reach 25 cm. Helix on the contrary – falls asleep for the period from December to March. There are several types of these snails that are in demand. These are Helix Pomatia (grape/burgundy snails), Helix Lucorum (mountain/land snails) and, of course, the delicious Mediterranean Helix Aspersa Maxima and Helix Aspersa Muller. The dimensions of their shell are much more modest – 3-5 cm.
These animals are hermaphrodites, that is, they can act as male and female at the same time. Usually, they are bought, not dividing into individuals, individually or by live weight. The cost of snails depends on their willingness to reproduce offspring.
How fast do they grow?
The cultivation of snails begins with reproduction. Snail-producers (they are also called “broodstock.” – Aggeek) are given a special diet rich in carrots. They are planted in pairs so that they fertilize each other. All individuals are able to reproduce offspring.
Each spring, snails lay 40-60 eggs. After mating, the snails are planted on special small pots of earth. The valuable contents of these pots are then placed in an incubator. “Kids” live in mini-terrariums, and grown-up are moved to an enclosure with mesh walls, on the boards, which are thrust into special drawers, as in a desk.
The offspring grows quite quickly and in artificial conditions is gaining marketable weight. Snails reach gastronomic sizes (like plums) in a few months. But in the wild, their relatives require one and a half years for this process. During the spring-autumn / spring cycle, each individual can bring up to one kilogram of offspring. That is, snails reproduce exponentially (in 1 kg of broodstock 40-50 individuals). Profit and growth count for yourself. In any case, even if part of the new generation perishes, the business will not “bend”.
Where to buy broodstock?
In Ukraine, there are about ten farms engaged in this business. Five of them received a license to export to the European Union. Demand continues to grow, so snail cultivation has several advantages over other types of animal husbandry.
In addition, there is the Association “Snail of Ukraine” ( Association Snail Ukraine ), which trains specialists, as well as sells broodstock.
Today there is intensive cultivation technology – the Mediterranean snails Helix Aspersa Maximum and Helix Aspersa Miller grow six months before presentation. In February, the snail is awakened; in March, it is placed in an incubator. In April, small snails are planted in closed pastures in greenhouse conditions. In May – already in the open field. The snail grows on compound feeds, intensive irrigation, subject to the creation of certain humidity and temperature. By the way, these animals do not gain weight. Even with enhanced nutrition, they do not overeat. The price of the broodstock is 12 euros/kg, and the price of export to Europe is 3.5-4.5 euros per kilogram. For comparison, a grape snail has been growing for three years, and its value in the market is about 1 euro told Aggeek Tim Shaped, director of the Snail Ukraine Association.
How to contain them?
You can breed snails almost everywhere. They are grown indoors, in open-air cages or in greenhouses. The latter option is convenient in that it is easier to monitor the temperature and humidity to create the necessary conditions.
Firstly, the room in which you build a snail farm should be quite spacious – at least 20 sq.m. It may seem that snails do not need a lot of space, but they still need territory for movement. So it is considered normal conditions for life when 40-50 snails (that is, about a kilogram) live on one square meter.
The main food for snails is leaves. Leaves of cabbage plus a feed mixture are best suited (it includes crushed corn, chalk, milk powder, and greens).
It is also necessary to ensure good ventilation. Every three to four days you need to remove waste products of vital activity and be sure to monitor the humidity of the air and soil (from 85 to 90%). Observe also the temperature regime – from + 20 to + 22 C. Sudden changes in these indicators can adversely affect the state of mollusks. To ensure such conditions, air humidifiers should be installed in the room and thermo-carpets should be laid.
This is all good, but …
Snails are not the most fastidious pets on the farm, however, the business may not go from the first year. For unknown reasons, they can die, even if you fulfill all the requirements of the conditions of detention. Or crawl if it’s a far too open farm.
In addition, snails have many enemies in their natural environment. Ground beetles prey on them, and some species of flies can parasitize. Rats, hedgehogs, shrews, even hamsters eat snails. Dangers await at every turn.
Therefore, if you want to engage in snail breeding, do not flatter yourself that this is all simple and straightforward. Be patient, look for new approaches and be professional. If you are interested in the topic – see our step-by-step guide.