A Beginner's Guide to Snail Farming
Snail farming, or heliciculture, has a variety of benefits. Whether you are raising snails to help with your garden or to eat, there proper ways of taking care of your snails in order to ensure that you get the best possible quality.
There are several species of snails that are edible and some people participate in snail farming in order to produce these types of snails. Some popular edible snails include the French "petit gris", the Roman snail, the "vineyard snail", the Spanish "cabretes", the wood snail", and the "escargo turc."
In order to lay eggs, snails need soil that is at least 2 inches deep. Millipedes, ants, earwigs, and other pests should be kept out of the soil. It is also preferable that the soil be moist without being too wet. You might find that your snails have difficult reproducing in clay soils, too, since the soil tends to be hard. It is best to have soil that is at least 20% organic material and kept around 70 F.
When it comes to snail farming, you will probably find that some snails grow more quickly than other snails, even under the same conditions. If you are breeding snails, then you should make sure that you use biggest and healthiest snails to breed and sell the small ones.
Some things that can inhibit snail growth include irregular feedings, temperature, moisture, stress, and population density. Snails are actually pretty sensitive when it comes to vibration, light, noise, and unsanitary conditions.
Snail farming can be done outdoors but the temperature and environment will need to be regulated. Some people have good luck in using greenhouses or tunnel houses. Other times, people will breed & hatch snails inside and after about 6 weeks remove the snails and place them outside in pens so that they are able to mature.
It is important that the snails have moist environments. Make sure that rainwater doesn't gather in the snails' home and that it doesn't get too dry, wither. Snails do breathe and require air and can drown if it gets too wet.
Snails also like to dig in the soil and ingest it, as well as regular food. Make sure that the soil is being changed regularly so that it doesn’t become unsanitary for the snails. A good example of a good mixture of soil includes a combination of compost, CaCO3 at pH7, clay, and peat. You also want a soil that is rich in magnesium and calcium in order to encourage growth.
When building your snail enclosure, it should be long and thin. You should be able to access it on all sides. Ensure that you cover it with netting or screens so that other animals cannot get inside. A drainage pipe can be placed inside the pen so that the snails have a place to hide.
Common foods that snails eat and that you might want to include in your snail farming endeavor are apples, artichokes, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, ripe cherries, citrus, kale, lettuce, potatoes, and tomatoes. When feeding your snails cooked foods, such as cooked potatoes, remove the uneaten food so that it doesn't rot or get damaged.