Snail farm

by admin on 01/11/2016

Snail on a cabbage leaf

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In a place called Ciocciolo di Capalbio on a property owned by 4 brothers, one of the owners has started raising snails of the race Helix Aspera since May 2016. Being new to raising snails, the family first went to a course at the International Snail Breeding Institute of Cherasco, Piemonte, Italy.

The field on which the snails are raised is divided into several rectangular shapes and all of them are surrounded by nets with a very small net size. In addition, there is a net below ground in order to prevent the snails from digging tunnels below the fences. Moreover, there are also a net on the top of each fence in order to both prevent the snails from scaling the fences and escaping and as a means of hindering birds from taking them.

As the average temperature gets lower in autumn, the snails dig small burrows below ground, in which they stay lethargic from November to March when spring arrives. The owners have planted chicory and cabbage inside the fences such that the snails can eat whenever they like, but in order to supplement their diet, the owners have planted sunflowers and chili pepper, both of which are eaten with relish by these terrestrial molluscs.

When the snails become lethargic, the owners will cut down all the plants inside the fences such that they protrude 5 cm maximum above the ground. Additionally, the owners told had already started preparing an adjacent field to which the snails will be transferred in March 2017 where they can eat fresh plants.

The first harvest of the snails will be done manually in June 2017 when their shells will have become rather hard. Since the mortality of the snails is quite high, the owners will try to compensate the loss by means of the increased request for another product from the snails: slime. In fact, the slime of these animals is used both for cosmetics and medicinal purposes.

The International Snail Breeding Institute of Cherasco has made a machine, which extracts the slime of the snails without hurting them. Thus, before the snails are sold, their slime will be extracted, giving this family an additional income.

There is also a radio interview with the institute here.


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