Snail Farming is in its infancy in South-Africa and boasts huge potential, with our sunny South-African climate and open stretches of land making organic, free range and ‘close-to-nature’ farming a pleasure.
Affordable methodology allows the harvesting and processing of a full spectrum of high-quality snail products available for competitive export.
My Snail adventure began around March 2019 when I harvested just over 300 indigenous garden snails, known at the time as Helix aspersa muller, lovingly collected from two of my friend’s gardens as well as a stranger’s veggie garden, saving them from certain death.
Of all terrestrial mollusks, this species may well be what most people are familiar with. It was classified and is widely known under the scientific name Helix aspersa for over two centuries, but the prevailing classification now places them in the genus Cornu.
I could not find any helpful information to guide me on any aspect of snail farming in South-Africa. There was only limited mention of snail farming methods abroad and mainly up in Africa where they only breed the Giant African snail, in built-up boxes and buckets.
I needed to develop ‘best practice’ snail farming for South-Africa. This is where my 300 hand-picked Helix aspersa mullers come in. Other than my own ego, I had nothing to lose.
For a little over a year, and with the help of my father, a retired building contractor and my incredibly supportive husband as sponsor, we tried and tested various housing methods for the snails. We built, assembled, broke down and tried again. It was frustrating and we paid a lot of school fees – or should I say my poor husband did.
We made our own supplementary feed, as we could see it was needed . We visited nurseries to scout for plants the snails would favor and planted vegetable gardens. I learned how to deal with everything that treated my snail house as a full a-la-carte buffet in a 5-star restaurant.
• My 300 snails grew to uncountable thousands, and I finally found a recipe that worked for me! Just over a year later I was ready to finally brave taking on my first Cornu aspersum maximus (Helix aspersa Maximus) snails and implement it all on a bigger scale.
Then the world got locked down!
As badly as lockdown affected us all, it did allow my husband and I the time and focus to set up the infrastructure which I had by then designed and knew would work for me.
I could only obtain Corna Aspersum eggs during full lockdown, and it was also all my dwindling budget allowed for during a lockdown with no income.
We took our snail feed to the next level as the feed available on the market produced copious amounts of faeces that simply made snail farming unmanageable.
The animal feed industry was able to fully operate during lockdown and this allowed us to develop what we would consider the perfect feed. So, in the lab of my niece, a very enthusiastic Animal Feed and Quality developer with a degree in HBSC. Agri Animal Science as well as her Masters Degree in Agri Animal Science Physiology & Product Quality, and with lots of trials at the Snail House, our own brand of feed took shape and was ready for our new flock in November of 2020. It was a massive success! Not only did the snails love it and showed better growth, but faeces were dramatically reduced by more than 90%. My snails enjoyed far better food absorption and spent a fraction of the time feeding to obtain it. Happy snails, happy farmer.
By then I had a fully functional snail farm with 12,500 Cornu aspersum maximus breeders grown from egg and ready to produce the next generation with the best feed available on the South African market. The Snail House was born.
Other than exporting a select range of snail products, The Snail House aims to have a Proudly South-African range of Farm Fresh Deli Snail Products available for the local market to purchase directly from the farm. We hope you will enjoy shopping with us.