Agri Hour

Looking to farm something different this year? Try snails, if you have the patience

───   ELSABÉ RICHARD 05:30 Tue, 11 Jan 2022

Looking to farm something different this year? Try snails, if you have the patience | News Article
Image: Helix SA Snail Farm (Facebook)

There are numerous options to choose from when it comes to agriculture and farming. One option is farming with snails. However, this type of farming requires a patient farmer who understands the challenges that may come with this type of farming.

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Annie Roux, from Helix SA Snail Farm in Centurion, Gauteng, shares that snail farming has been in South Africa for the past eight years but has only been in commercial farms for the past two years.

She emphasises that snail farming is not a get-rich-quick scheme and that it is based on numbers. This means that the more snails, the better the income.

Snails can only be harvested every nine months and breeders need to be replaced on an annual basis.

“We work on a natural mortality rate for babies around 30% and our current selling price is R1.00 a [mature] snail,” says Roux.

There are numerous risks involved too. “Snails unfortunately are on the bottom of the food chain, so everything wants to eat it… It is very important to control that. Hygiene obviously is of vital importance as snails do tend to get nematodes, viruses, and bacteria.

“Our biggest enemy so far this year has been uncontrollable weather conditions where you have 35 to 36 degrees and then overnight it starts raining and then it gets to 18 to 20 degrees.

“And then the biggest, biggest problem that snail farmers experience is overpopulation. It has to be controlled to 250 snails per square meter.”

Roux explains that if snails are overpopulated it will result in dwarfism.



Demand for snails in SA 

There are currently two offset markets in SA. Roux says the first offset market is for human consumption with a yearly shortage of about 200 tons.

The second offset market for snails is the cosmetic and animal food manufacturing industry. Roux says with this market, there is a shortage of about 150 tons a year.

Adding to that, the export market is in excess of 400 tons a year. “Currently we can’t look at the export market because we can’t even supply enough to the local markets.”


Feed

She explains that snails only eat at night as they are nocturnal. By taking hands with an animal food specialist about two years ago, Roux was able to develop specialised food for snails which is a total protein-based dry food that contains all the necessary proteins, calcium, vitamins, and minerals.


Snails can be farmed in three ways

  • Indoor farming. By making use of this type of farming means that you will be able to have control over the environment. This means that you can control the humidity, how dark or light it is inside as well as the temperature.
  • Outdoor farming. When making use of this option, snails can be kept in a shade net house under wooden pallets.
  • Outdoors under a shade net house with a curtain method.

“All three the above have been proven successful,” confirms Roux.


If you would like to learn more about farming with snails or would like to buy premium snail food, visit www.helixsasnailfarm.co.za or Helix SA Snail Farm on Facebook.



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