Snail Farming: Learn About Heliciculture

02 July, 2020
Heliciculture, either as a 'hobbie' or a business activity, doesn't require a big investment for the profitability that can be taken out of it. In fact, the breeding of these small terrestrial molluscs happens within a relatively short season. However, it is necessary to know what procedures are to be followed in order to get it right.
 

Snail farming (heliciculture) has become popular in recent years as an extra income alternative and also as a hobby. This activity requires simple care, a low initial investment, and can be developed in medium-sized areas.

The simplicity of it makes this activity accessible to small agricultural producers or urban entrepreneurs that are interested in starting a new company. Today, we’re going to learn a little more about snail farming and its fundamental requirements.

Pros and cons of snail farming

As mentioned before, snail farming offers a number of advantages for its producers. In addition to being able to start with a minimum initial investment, putting money into this industry is economical for the profits it generates.

If the whole operation is carried out well, the activity means guaranteed profit, as the snail market in many places in the world has little supply and high demand.

Another advantage of this business is that the snail breeding season is relatively short. It starts at the beginning of spring and ends in October. Therefore, this means that the producer can do it alongside other lucrative activities and make additional profits.

The snail’s adaptability skills

We must also highlight the snail’s ability to adapt to different climates and their ease in reproducing. A healthy snail, being successfully fertilized, can lay more than 100 eggs per breeding season.

A photo of a boy inspired by snail breeding.
 

Regarding the disadvantages, if the entrepreneur doesn’t have enough space for breeding, he or she will have to invest in buying or renting a place. This would of course increase their initial investment, which in principle would be pastures to feed snails and provide them with water.

Possible markets and snail use

As we can see, considering America and Europe, we can already find a very attractive opportunity for snail entrepreneurs as it’s a widespread market.

To take an example from Europe, about 80% of snails consumed in Spain come from countries such as Morocco, for instance. It allows us to presume that future Spanish producers will have the ease of marketing 100% of their products in the local market.

Snail meat has been highly valued for European cuisine for its flavor, nutritious properties, and its low price. In countries such as France, snail pate is considered a sophisticated food worthy of the best delicatessen stores.

Other uses besides meat

In addition to meat, snail eggs are also consumed and valued as white caviar. For the entrepreneur, this means that he or she will also be able to market eggs that haven’t been successfully fertilized (about 10% of the eggs per season). As a result, we have a double business possibility and almost no waste at all.

Beyond the culinary arts, snail slime is a product appreciated by the international cosmetic industry. Its beneficial properties for skin regeneration and hydration caused its market value to rise.

 

Basic materials you need to start with snail farming

  • An aquarium or terrarium, with a grid top
  • Land, suitable for gardens and crops (fertile land)
  • Rocks with a composition that is rich in calcium carbonate
  • Water
  • Good quality feed and grass to feed them
A picture of lined-up snails.

In some cases, it will also be necessary to have a good heating system. Snails are native to warm climates, characterized by high humidity springs and summers with warm temperatures.

If the environment’s climate is too cold, snails will enter hibernation and stop reproducing. This, in turn, means a loss for the business. To produce the ideal environment for snails we can opt for some hollow bricks, which will serve them as a refuge.

Finally, in addition to their commercial feed, we can also offer our snails raw vegetables such as green leaves. It’s a good idea to provide variety in their basic diet.

Some tips for successful heliciculture

Experienced breeders recommend starting off with a small space, between 1,600 and 3,200 square feet. In addition, it’s also important to dedicate one to two years to studying and obtaining extensive knowledge about this activity. Lack of practice and ignorance are among the main causes of failure in all businesses.

 

Ideally, start by buying adult breeding snails. As a result, we can guarantee you’ll have fertile and healthy specimens to start breeding with.

You can also choose to buy young snails, which will take between three or four months to achieve optimal development. There are also a considerable number of entrepreneurs who collect wild snails to maintain their heliciculture business.

In sum, it’s essential to be consistent and patient in order to achieve success in snail farming. From the third year on, it’s quite likely that the producer will guarantee a comprehensive return on its investment. In order to do so, he or she will have to produce more than one tonne of snails.

Is snail breeding a business you would invest in?