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Snail Production

Sonya Begg 2010 Snail Farming Information Service
This visual presentation demonstrates the technique of
establishing a free-range snail farm in Australia.

It explains the value of the biological cycle of breeding
snails as the most ethical and sustainable method of raising
snails and how to purge and process snails to ensure a
high-quality end product.

It provides insight on how to produce better tasting snails
than those raised in overcrowded enclosures by optimising
the welfare and health of snails.

It complements the CODE OF PRACTICE Australian Free-
range Snail Farming and Australian Free-range Snail

Read these documents at www.snailfarming.net Scroll down
to Information.

To emphasise that free-range snail
production is a sustainable farming

To highlight free-range snail farming as
the most acceptable and moral method
of snail production and has a positive
influence on the quality of snails.

To encourage the application of organic
and biodynamic principles to further
enhance the biological cycle of raising

To discourage intensive snail growing and
fattening in overcrowded conditions in
small enclosures or greenhouses
(backyard operations).
Aim of the Code of Practice
Please read
Reason for free-range snail production

The natural physiological
characteristics of snails are
enriched by a free-range

It it promotes
excellent metabolic and
respiratory functions for the
snails plenty of space and
natural air circulation.

To understand the needs of the
physiology, growth, reproduction,
nutrition and snail behavior.

Free-range versus intensive snail production
Improved breeding environment.
No overcrowding problems
Higher reproduction rates.
Lower mortality.
Clean environment, so no excess
slime, faeces or odour.
Optimises the health and welfare
of the snails.
Produces wholesome, consistent
sized, top-quality snails.
Results in a better product.
Fine example of snails
bred in free-range snail
production unit
Optimising welfare and health of snails
Space to roam free prevents
Benefit of natural ventilation, sun
and moon light, rain and the
evening dew.
Allowed to live according to nature,
creating ecological balance
between soil, plants and snails.
Moral and ethical method of
farming snails.
Stress-free environment due to
the natural biological cycle of
breeding snails.
Less human handling.
Produces large numbers of consistent
high-quality snail livestock.

Foraging makes snails more tender
Compare the difference
Snails raised in free-range or open pastures
Snails raised in overcrowded
conditions in small enclosures

Snails suitable for free-range snail production in Australia
In Australia the domestic production of edible snails for the commercial
market is Cantareus aspersus formerly Helix aspersa first described
in Italy by Mller in 1774.
It is a terrestrial snail and is herbivorous. It is known in Australia as the
common brown garden snail (or petit-gris, meaning little grey).
It is one of the most popular snails eaten snail in France, Italy and other
European countries.
Basic biology of the snail
Climatic conditions
C. aspersus adapt well to cooler
regions up to 750m above sea level
and endure frost and snow if given
adequate crop shelter.

Temperate regions of Australia and
New Zealand with yearly temperature
within the range minimum -4C to
maximum 30C.

C. aspersus are induced to aestivate
when drought, heat and extreme cold
slows their metabolic activity.

They are not suitable for breeding in
tropical or desert areas of Australia.
Finished crops are ploughed back into
the ground as green manure crops.

Physical controls are maintained for
unwanted weeds and pests.

Biological control using insectary
plants attract beneficial bugs.

Working with the appropriate rhythmic
influences of the moon for planting,
cultivation, and harvesting snails.

Ecological benefits of natural sun and
moon light, organic soil, rain and the
evening dew.
Benefits of applying organic principles
Applying organic principles is an integral part of a free-range snail farm.
An organic production system sustains the health of soils, ecosystems and
Crops are planted without the use
of synthetic fertilisers.

No chemicals are used in the snail

Crops are rotated to disrupt any
soil-born diseases.

Companion planting is encouraged.

Crops are planted densely to help
prevent weed growth and bird

To follow biodynamic principles, plan the
sowing of seeds to coincide with the fertile
phases of the moon.

Plans for seeding can be formulated by using
lunar phases for sowing seeds so the
connection between the solar system and
natural biological cycles is maximized.

Plant leafy vegetables when the
moon is waxing and root vegetables when
the moon is waning.

Because the lunar phase is said to control
the moisture in the soil, you will find that the
seeds germinate quickly and the plants grow
strong and healthy in a relatively short time.

Planting crops by the moon
Use an astrological calendar as an
easy guide to planting crops.
Improves natural balance and
reduce harmful insect pest
outbreaks. A good bug bed is an
excellent biological method of
controlling aphids, scale, red spider
mite, caterpillar and other pests
without the use of chemicals.

It also provides a natural nectar
source that attracts the beneficial
insects to help control unwanted

Some of the plants in the mix
include annual and perennial
flowers such as marigolds,
alyssum, cosmos, Queen Annes
lace, red clover, dill and caraway.

Good bug bed Biological control of unwanted plant pests
The best time to plant a good bug bed is in late
winter so its biological control will be successful in
controlling any pests that may appear in the crops
grown for snails in mid-spring and summer.
Plant the good bug bed either inside the
perimeter fence or outside it, as long as its close
to the snail production area.

Minimum space requirements
To ensure viable, commercial snail production, a minimum of 850 square
metres to one hectare is needed to breed around 50,000 snails each season.
This area allows room for crop and snail rotation and fallow areas.
Position of site
North facing, level to slightly undulating land.
Good drainage and protection from prevailing winds.
Preparing the site
Mark out the designated area
and clear land of weeds and
other vegetation.

Determine soil acidity by
conducting a soil test.

Add organic soil conditioner
and composted material if

Include fine grade garden
limestone (calcium carbonate)
if necessary. Soil should be
slightly alkaline at pH level of
around 7.5-8.

Good preparation of the soil during initial establishment will prevent the germination of weed
seeds and give a good base for planting of feed and shelter crops for the snails.
After clearing the land, build the perimeter fence.

The perimeter fence is the most important part of construction. It keeps
burrowing animals, rodents and snakes and other unwanted pests out of the
snail production area.

Producers who have not erected an external fence have reported problems with
rabbits and rodents.

The outside of the galvanized fence must always be completely free of anything
that climbing animals may use as a form of entry.

All posts and other fencing materials should be attached to the inside surface
of the galvanised iron sheets. There must be no holes or gaps so predators
(large and very small) are able to get through.

Once the area is clear of all weeds, the perimeter fence is placed around the
entire area selected for snail production.

Allow enough room for at least one metre of clear pathways on each side of
the perimeter fence.
The perimeter fence
Constructing the perimeter fence
Construct an external fence of corrugated galvanised iron sheeting around the entire
perimeter of the area designated for the snail production unit. Allow for future
internal expansion.

The galvanised sheeting should be at least 85cm in height and buried to a depth
of 30cm.
This fence is
Setting the perimeter fence into the ground
Place the galvanized
iron sheets in the trench
and drive in iron star
posts where the sheets
Use a trenching
machine to dig a trench
30cm deep around the
Attach the galvanized sheets
butt-joined in the corner with
pop-rivets over the right-angled
sections of aluminium so there
are no gaps in the corners.
Use pop-rivets to join the galvanized sheets and then bolt to the star posts.

Use square section 100mm x100mm steel post in the corners.

Pop-rivet right-angled sections of aluminum to the 100mm x 100mm posts.

Allow enough room for at least one metre of clear pathways on each side of the perimeter fence.

Corners of the perimeter fence
Butt the gal-iron panels closely to steel posts in each corner and seal
behind with silicone (see arrow) so there are absolutely no gaps (even small
ones) to be seen.
Adding a predator-free gate to perimeter fence
Make two vertical cuts with tin snips
into the middle of one of the
galvanised iron panels of the
perimeter fence wide enough to
allow a rotary hoe to enter.

The cuts are made from the top edge
to just above ground level, so that
this panel can be folded down to
make a ramp. (see next page).

Place two flat aluminium strips 75mm
wide and 2mm thick each side of the
cut panel on the inside of the fence
so that half the strip is pop-riveted
to the fixed panel and the other half
bolted to the opening panel.

The strips are necessary to
cover the cuts so mice and other
small predators cannot get through.

1 2
Panel folds outwards to make a
ramp on outside of fence
Aluminium strips bolted to fixed
and cut sides of panel on inside
of fence, so there are no gaps
To access the free-range area, the bolts on the opening panel only are undone,
leaving the aluminium strip attached to the fixed panel.

The panel is folded downwards to the ground that forms a temporary ramp for the
rotary hoe to be wheeled into the free-range area.

The ramp should never be left down for any length of time, even when operating
machinery in the free-range area, to prevent predators or other animals entering.

Perimeter fence outside surface Perimeter fence inside surface

Gate access details
Perimeter fence option
Kangaroos are rarely a problem but if they are, a cyclone wire
extension can be added above the galvanized iron fence.

As an extra precaution, the addition of an electric out-rigger wire is

Crops may offer a tempting meal for kangaroos and rabbits.

The outside of the galvanized area of
the perimeter fence should be
completely clear of any materials to
prevent climbing predators
Out-rigger hot wire attached to cyclone

Cyclone netting above galvanised fence

Once the perimeter fence is in
place start constructing the
internal fields.
Internal fields or paddocks for
housing are fenced with open
weave shade cloth or wind break
material to provide adequate air
circulation and ventilation for
essential respiration of the snails.
The number of internal fields in
this project is 10 to maximise the
space and take advantage of
north/south layout.

Any number of fences can be
constructed according to the
allocated area.
Internal fencing (snail fields)
NB: All internal fences can be erected at once or if time is an issue, construct only the first
field for the breeders (reproduction field) and finish the rest later in the season (optional).
Plan to join the mesh at the end of field so it can be
opened easily to allow rotary hoeing.
Setting out the internal fences

As a guide, you need three
growing fields for each
reproduction field.

Leave one metre of space
between the perimeter
fence and one metre of
space between all the
netting fields.

Place iron posts a
minimum of 2 metres apart.
Growing field
Good bug bed
Constructing the internal fences
Have a top pocket and two downward facing
flaps sewn into the mesh by the shade cloth supplier
while it is still in the roll. (The flaps help prevent
snails going over the side).

Incorporate the pocket and flap at the top and thread
pocket with fencing wire so it can be attached to iron

Flaps should measure 20cm and are sewn in as
pleats 40cm of material is allowed for each pleat.

Dig a trench around the perimeter of each field.

Place iron posts a minimum of 2 metres apart to
support the mesh. Attach mesh to posts with
twitching wire.

Roll up and bury the remainder of mesh material into
the trench so the completed fence stands at least
70cm high. (You need to be able to climb over the
Second flap
top pocket
and top flap
Details of internal fencing mesh
Flap 2
Pocket for wire
Flap 1
Remainder of material
buried into the trench
Buy good quality open-weave
windbreak or shade cloth mesh
with ultra violet block out.
It can be purchased in rolls
measuring 1.8m x 50m.
Cheaper quality mesh is
subject to stretching and
damage from the elements.
Use green or cream coloured
mesh (black attracts heat).
If using shade cloth buy
minimum density usually
around 30-50%. Its not
shade that is required but
good air circulation.
Ask the manufacturer of shade
cloth products to sew the flaps in
as pleats.
Keep the pathways around
the outside and inside of the
perimeter fence and in
between internal fields clear
of any weeds or vegetation.

Remove the weeds by hand
or if necessary, spray the
weeds with an organic

Some snails manage to climb
out of the netting enclosures
but they will usually return by
daylight because of their
territorial nature.

However, if there is a clump
of vegetation they are
inclined to go only as far as
the weeds rather than back to
their field.
Water requirements for snail production
Yes, we
like lots of
Snails love rain and need
water for hydration.

The soil needs to be kept
moist for egg laying and

Sufficient water is needed to
grow crops successfully.

Water keeps the snails active
(eating, breeding, growing).
An irrigation system is recommended for
watering plants and to encourage night-time
activity of the snails.

Overhead sprinklers, providing light misting,
are more suitable than heavy watering to
prevent the soil from becoming saturated.

Incorporate the irrigation system in the early
stage of establishment, either before or after
erecting the internal fences.

A filter should be attached to the irrigation
system if water is sourced from a dam.
Snails require protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals including extra
calcium for shell development.

All snails need ad lib access to naturally-grown food, moisture and
the advantage of the evening dew.

Plants such as forage brassicas (cabbage family), hybrid turnip, plantain,
dandelion, wild turnip, clover and silver beet contain necessary nutriments
and are ideal for planting inside fields as a food source and habitat.

Along with growing suitable plants for food, dry organic animal foods such
crushed corn, bran, oats, full-fat soy mixture is an added supplement if
necessary, and can be given to snails bred for human consumption as
long as the formula does not contain antibiotics or any added chemicals.
Food for free-range snails
Suitable food and shelter crops for free-range snails
White clover (Trifolium repens) (only newly hatched snails)

Strawberry clover (Trifolium fragiferum)
(only newly hatched snails)

Forage rape (Brassica napus)

Forage brassica hybrids (Brassica campestris spp)

Plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

White Radish (Raphanus sativus longipinnatus) (root only)

Wild Turnip (Brassica rapa spp. Silvestris)

Purple-top Turnip (Brassica rapa)

White clover (Trifolium repens)

Strawberry clover (Trifolium

Chickory (Cichorium intybus)

Silverbeet (Beta vulgaris)

Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)

The most accepted plants by free-range snails
Forage brassica
Leafy turnip
Cabbage and other plants from
the Brassica family
Red or white clover

During times of low feed or high
density of juvenile snails,
supplementary crops can be
grown outside the snail production
Green waste leaves such as
lettuce and cabbage can be
sourced from local (preferably
organic) fruit and vegetable

Purchase second-grade carrots
(horse carrots) in 20kg bags as an
additional supplement. Carrots are
especially useful after snails come
out of hibernation and at the start
of the breeding season.
Supplementary food with fresh vegetables
A mix of grains such as maize, soybean,
crushed corn and oats with the addition of
calcium carbonate (fine grade garden lime)
can be sprinkled onto concrete pavers
measuring around 40cm x 40cm.

Place the pavers flush in the ground
randomly in the enclosures for
supplementary feeding of cereal grains.

The pavers need to be flush to the level
surface of the ground to prevent snails
snails gathering on the sides or
underneath the pavers.

The pavers can be easily removed later.
Supplementary feeding with grain
Never use wooden boards, polystyrene boxes or rocks in free-range
snail fields as it encourages snails to congregate. This results in
overcrowding and shell rasping and other problems.
Open one end of the field and lay
netting flat on the ground to allow
a rotary hoe or other equipment
to enter.

Prepare the soil by rotary hoeing
and rake over to prepare a seed

Plant seed in rills at 30cm row
spacing. (Rill seeding takes a little
more time than broadcasting but
germination is better).

Use the end of a broom handle to
make rills and sprinkle the seeds
quite heavily into the furrows.

Cover with a thin layer of soil and
then water gently.
Preparing the seed bed for snail food crops
Planting the seeds
Planting seeds rather
than seedlings is more
economical for large
areas that need to be
planted densely.

Rotate crops for each
planting so the same
plants are not planted in
the same area of soil.

Each field can have two
different crops planted
that can be rotated the
following year
e.g. brassica on one side,
spinach on the other side
then rotated at the next

Plant seeds densely
Selective and controlled breeding of free-range snails
Selective breeding

Like any animal raising activity,
genetics in snail reproduction plays a
major role in homogeneous
appearance and consistency in size.

Selective breeding is based on the
choice of parents with desirable traits
to produce improved progeny size
first, then colour of shell or flesh.

Selective breeding may not be a long-
term panacea due to possible genetic
throwbacks, so its important to focus
on the traits that you are looking for in
a snail and this is where controlled
breeding comes in.
Controlled breeding

The traits you desire in your
snails must be conserved and
the undesirable ones

This is done by repeatedly
selecting the best snails from
each generation to be the
parents of the next. Any mature
snails that are undersize must be

Close monitoring for undesirable
traits (usually after about three
four years) may require an
injection of a different strain to
reduce any recessive genes that
may occur.

Fact: The colour of the flesh of snails is
most influenced by genetics, not by the
food it is given.
Selecting initial breeding stock
Sourcing breeding stock
Initial breeding stock can be sourced from
suburban gardens to create a genetic base.
Select only healthy-looking snails measuring
30-32mm that display even growth patterns.
Big snails breed bigger snails so its
important that only large snails are kept for
initial breeding. Discard undersize snails.
The progeny of this initial breeding stock
judged to have the best growth rates and
size are chosen for the next batch of
The Biological cycle of
breeding snails
The biological cycle starts with
the snails first selected for the
initial breeding program.
These are the snails that will
form the foundation for a solid
genetic base.
It begins at conception and
finishes when adulthood is
reached and the snails starts
to produce their own progeny.
When the progeny reach
adulthood, the cycle begins again.
Snails must complete their
biological cycle including winter
hibernation, to ensure high
fecundity and fertility.
Make sure the snails
selected for breeding
have a hard edge on
the lips of their shells
to indicate maturity.
Mating begins in spring but
can continue through to
autumn if environmental
conditions are met.

Snails usually mate during the night
and can take four to fourteen hours
to complete.

Around six to ten days after mating,
the snail makes a hole in the soil
where it lays its eggs in batches of
any number from around 30-100
eggs at a time.

It then covers the hole with a
mixture of soil and mucus before
leaving to rest.

C.aspersus is an hermaphrodite and each
individual snail possesses both male and
female reproductive organs.

During mating, mutual fertilisation takes
place and one or both snails will usually lay
Soil needs to be friable for efficient oviposition

The eggs are round and measure approximately 3mm in diameter. They are pearly
white in colour and have a rubbery texture.

The eggs usually hatch within three weeks of being laid and the newly hatched baby
snails are exact replicas of the adult snails.

The frequency of egg laying is subject to temperature, humidity and soil conditions.
Its estimated snails can lay several times during the breeding season under favorable
environmental conditions let your snails breed at their own pace.

Oviposition egg laying
Maximum on ground stocking density
Free-range is about the maximum population size of the species that the environment (soil
space) can sustain indefinitely.

The freedom of enough ground area allows the snails to avoid each others slime trails and
enjoy uncongested living space.

Over-slimed ground and excess faeces can modify snail behaviour by putting out chemical
signals like pheromones detrimental to reproduction and growth rates in terrestrial snails.

Snails raised in overcrowded enclosures produce fewer clutches of eggs or yield fewer eggs per
clutch resulting in inferior adult snails.

If you follow the on ground stocking density recommendations, there will be no over-crowding
problems as often is the case in intensive or greenhouse snail farming units.

To avoid any unwanted traits that may result in decreased size and fertility from continuous line-
breeding, a number of snails from another free-range breeder source can be introduced around
every three to five years.

Stocking density
Breeding snails 20 per sq m (Reproduction field)
Juvenile snails 140 per sq m (Growing fields)
Adult snails 80 per sq m (Holding fields)
Factors that influence the growth of snails

Population density


Temperature and moisture

Breeding technology.


Many factors greatly influence reproduction and the growth of snails
Snails suffer stress as they are sensitive to noise and vibration, unhygienic and
overcrowded conditions, irregular feeding and human handling.

This schedule is a guide only. Planting of crops, reproduction and growing differ
according to the climate and can be delayed if unsuitable climatic conditions prevail.

It usually takes around six to eight weeks for crops to grow to suitable size for
introducing or transferring snails
April to July
Clear land and prepare soil.

Erect perimeter fence.

Construct internal fences.

Work up soil with addition of
garden lime (calcium carbonate) to
prepare seed bed in preparation
for planting.

Plant out field 1 for reproduction.

Plant good bug bed.
Schedule for managing free-range snail production
October (mid)
When crops are around 25-30cm
high introduce breeding stock.

Dont introduce new snails if it is
raining and put off irrigating or
watering on the first day/evening
watering encourages them to

Monitor enclosures for any escapees
and return them to the field.

The newly introduced snails should
only take a few days to settle in and
then the fields will become their

Place snails into the plants growing
in the middle of the fields.
Schedule for managing free-range snail production ...contd
Brassica crop about 35-30cm and introducing
breeding snails.
Only 20 breeding
snails to the
square metre
Plant out fields 2, 3 and 4 for
growing out baby snails when they

Breeding snails should be mating
and starting to lay eggs.

Hatchlings and baby snails should
be visible. Leave to grow until big
enough to transfer (about the size
of a five-cent piece).

At the end of January/early
February, transfer and distribute
baby snails that have hatched in
field 1 to fields 2, 3 and 4 for
Allow baby snails to grow
through March and April.

Towards the end of February and
when all the juvenile snails have
been transferred, harvest any
mature snails for purging and
cooking. Allow juvenile snails to
continue growing.

Supply supplementary food for
juvenile snails if necessary.

. Clear all snails and old crops
from out field 1 and cover with
weed matting.

Early in the month plant out fields
5, 6 and 7 for snails that will be
Schedule for managing free-range snail production ...contd
The second season of production follows the pattern of the first year and for the
following years to come. Remember to rotate crops and snails.
Harvest any juvenile snails that
have reached maturity for purging
and cooking.

Keep the largest snails for next
years breeders.

Transfer snails kept for breeding
next year to field 5 for over

Transfer other remaining snails to
fields 6 and 7. This is where the
snails will remain for winter
hibernation until transfer in spring
for final growing out.
At beginning of June, clear out all
empty fields and cover with weed
matting and leave fallow until
ready to plant again.

Cover the fallow fields with weed
matting to help deter weeds from

Snails are in winter hibernation.

Cover the hibernating snails with

Carry out field maintenance.
Schedule for managing free-range snail production ...contd
Winter hibernation
Cover the snail fields with enviro-cloth
(frost guard). It keeps the temperature
of the soil up to approximately 7C

Cover the fallow fields with weed

When the temperature drops below
around 5-6C, snails start to close off
the opening of their shells.
The cover is called an epiphragm
and becomes hard and calcareous.
Snail in hibernation Enviro-cloth cover Weed cloth cover
Snails stay in hibernation until spring and is an important part of the biological cycle.
Maintenance management during snail season
Keep pathways clear of weeds.
Check internal fences for holes or weeds growing at the base.
Return any snails that have climbed to top of internal fences.
Check irrigation and spray nozzles. Flush filters.
Monitor perimeter
fence for holes that
may indicate intrusion
of frogs or mice.
Trim crops that start to
go to seed to encourage
new growth.
Remove any dead or
decaying leaves from
Snail predators
Predatory snail, Strangesta
capillacea. The whorl and
shell of this cannibalistic snail
is flatter than C. aspersus.

It has a definite hole for its
umbilicus found on the
underside of the shell.
Lizards, especially blue-tongue lizards.
Rodents (rats and mice).

Frogs (some varieties).



Currawongs, butcherbirds, chicken
hawks, owls and other birds.

Beetles and centipedes.

Carnivorous snails (shown here).

Dealing with snail predators
Birds threat from birds is unusual if crops are planted densely. Snails are nocturnal and
retreat into the crops during the day, so are not visible to birds.
Carnivorous snails make sure there are no carnivorous snails among the collected
snails you introduce as initial breeding stock.
Frogs remove by hand and relocate.
Mice trap and remove. Using baits is not recommended.
Lizards are never a problem if the perimeter fence has been constructed as described.

Staphylinid beetles known for
feeding on larvae and slug and
snail eggs. They are sometimes
confused with earwigs but do not
have pincers. Remove by hand
and destroy.
Carabids members of this beetle
family are fast-moving predators and
are usually recognized by their prominent
mandibles, large round eyes, slender,
simple antennae and pungent odor. If
seen remove by hand and destroy.
Harvesting snails
The best time for harvesting is at dawn
and dusk, especially after rain or water
Pick up snails by hand and place in
collection bucket, ready for transfer to
purging shed or growing fields.
Make sure the shell edge is hard on the snails you pick up.
Use a measuring guide for snails
ready for the market because its
easy to become snail blind and
sizing can become quite confusing.

Throw out some fresh or grain
supplementary feed. The snails will
gather together and can be easily
picked up and transferred to other
fields or to the purging bins.

Pick snails off the sides of the netting
fences after rain or watering.

Fill a bucket with snails and count
them as you go. Next time just fill
the bucket to the same level and
you will know approximately how
many snails you are harvesting or

Tips for harvesting snails
Measuring guide

Cut notch 30mm wide from piece of wood.
Snail should fit snugly in cut out area. If
any space between ends of notch and
snail, then its not big enough. If its too big
to fit its a bonus.
This snail has not reached maturity
because the lip of its shell is still soft.
It should be left to mature before
Big is better
Mature snails are ready to harvest for the

They should measure 30mm absolute
mimimum measured across the base of
the shell.

Snails ready for harvesting should have a
hard lip (or edge) of shell.
Soft lip
Hard lip
Purging is the removal of
any soil and grit from the
digestive system of the snails.

It is the first step in preparing
snails for sale.

Snails are purged to make sure
they are perfectly clean and
safe for human consumption.

The snails should remain
whole. It is not necessary to
trim any part of the snail

Purging snails what its all about
This photo shows how snails should look after
purging and processing. Perfectly clean and plump.
They are ready to use in recipe of choice.
Visceral mass
Dont trim
Process your own snails
to ensure quality control
Where to build the purging pod
The purging area can be built utilizing the whole area of a shed or built as separate
pod within an existing shed.
The irrigation shown in the purging buckets was
found to be superfluous.

Only a hose with adjustable spray is necessary
to wash the buckets and rinse the snails at the
same time.

Where to build the purging pod
Please note irrigation cost saving
Snails are purged in clean containers without soil.
Here the evaporative cooler is placed on a stand in front of
small window at opposite end to stable door that also
provides air circulation.
The cooler is modified with a float valve and attached to
mains water flow and the temperature controller is placed
Temperature sensor from
temperature controller
Inside the purging pod
Refrigerated air
conditioning is not
suitable as it dries out
the atmosphere.
Install a tap and hose inside the purging pod for washing out bins and floors.
Purging bins
To accommodate the snails during the
purging process use 25 litre white
plastic bins.

These bins are easy to clean and
efficient management of snails is

Drill several holes in the bottom edge
of the bins for water and waste

Cut a hole in the lid of the bins to
leave a square hole. Cover with wire
mesh (about 10mm) and secure with
heavy duty staples on the inside of the

Attach a flexible security cord to the
side of the rim of the bins to keep the lid
in place. (When large numbers of snails
congregate together on the lid, it can
easily come off).
Mount the purging bins on timber frames.

Use household guttering along the rear and attached to the wall, to support the
bottom edge of the bucket and for drainage from the buckets.

The timber frame is used to support the bucket while it rests on the guttering.

The guttering is sloped to the water outlet.

Allow at least a 15 slope between the front timber edge and the guttering at the
back to allow for drainage in the bucket.

The framework holding the purging bins should hold them in a secure position to
prevent the containers from rolling around. Otherwise add chocks on either side
of the buckets to keep them secure.
Constructing the framework for bins
Images next page
Framework for bins
Slope the frames and guttering towards the
drainage outlet
Guttering on back wall.
Chock for bin support
Drainage to outside or collection bin
Slope the bin 15 towards the guttering for drainage.
There should be no pooling of water in the bin.
The purging process
Collect snails from fields and transfer to
clean containers in a cool shed with
plenty of air circulation.

Water must be available for misting,
cleaning and evaporative cooling (if
necessary) to maintain temperature
around 16-18C.
The snails are fed a purging mix of
organic unprocessed bran and/or wheat
germ for two days.

They must continue to be purged for
seven days to rid their digestive systems
of dirt and grit.

Hygiene in the purging pod
Hygiene in the purging pod is vitally important to maintain a clean environment for
providing food for human consumption.
Remove any dead and
dying snails.

Snails found on their
back are dead or dying.

If there is a bad smell in the
purging pod it usually
indicates dead snails.
Hose out bins to
remove faeces, uneaten
food and any dead snails.

Thoroughly wash and
scrub bins before new
batches of snails are
To make sure mice and
other unwanted pests
are not attracted to the
purging pod, keep the
floor clean and contain
all cereal food in a
covered bin.
Harvested snails need to be purged for a total of seven days before processing. The
best time to for purging process is late in the afternoon, just before dusk if possible.
How to safely purge snails day-by-day

Place harvested snails in bins and
spray with water only (anytime of the day)

DAY 2 and 3
Remove snails carefully from each bin to the
lid on shelf below. The snails will leave a lot of
greasy, dark faeces so wash the bins well.

Sprinkle purging bran on floor of bins replace
snails, mist lightly with water, replace lid

Day 4
Remove snails from each bin to the lid on
shelf below. Wash out bins thoroughly. Return
snails and mist with water. No purging bran.

Day 5 and 6
Leave snails alone without food or water.
Day 7
Pack snails in lots of 50 into mesh bags and
hang in a cool area with plenty of air

How to safely purge snails day-by-day contd
Keep in and out date chart for
purging snails.
Shelf life from day of processing is nine days for fresh snails packed in
spring water and refrigerated at 4 degrees.
Day 8
Cook the the snails in the bags of the
morning of the eighth day.

At the end of processing, pack into
sterilised jars and they are ready to sell.

The reason for processing snails for the market
Because of diverse multicultural influences on
Australian cuisine today, many chefs request
live snails.
Sometimes those who request live snails may
feed them on unknown herbs or other food, to
keep them longer.
Therefore the guarantee of the healthy,
properly purged and contaminant-free snails
is compromised and the grower no longer
has control of the health of the snails.
You could be putting your business at risk.
To ensure optimum quality and a safe, clean
productprocess your snails!
Uncooked snails MUST NEVER
be eaten.EVER
Raw, uncooked snails can cause serious
health risks.
The purged snails are
cooked and shelled.

They are soaked in a
mix of half salt and half
vinegar to remove

Then they are rinsed,
scraped and packed
with spring water into
sterilised jars.

Processing snails is a specialised part of producing a top-
quality fresh snail product. Cutting corners in this process
will result in inferior snails.
About the preparation of processing snails for sale
The finished product should look like the snails in the images shown here.

Clean kitchen with smooth work benches
Floors that can be effectively cleaned
Processing area (kitchen) must be free of pests and vermin
Exhaust fan
Stainless steel sink
Separate sink nearby for hand washing
Fire extinguisher
Stainless steel saucepans
Stainless steel or glass bowls
Small-pronged fork for snail extraction
Sieve for draining snails
Paring knife for slime extraction
Latex gloves used for food handling
Glass jars for packing
Food processing equipment
For processing 80 dozen snails a days work for one person
Refer to food handling practices
according to Australian and
New Zealand Food Standards.

Standard 3.2.3 Food Premises
and Equipment (Australia only)
Snails that appear thin or flattened in the
centre are inferior and should not be sold.
See images on next page.

Trim only the snout if it has not retracted
after cooking. No other trimming is
Make slurry of half salt and half vinegar
to cover the snails and soak for around
two hours.
Then thoroughly rinse at least three times in
cold water.

Carefully scrape off any remaining
slime around the lip of the snail with
small paring knife.

Transfer snails to clean bowl with half
water, half white wine and leave
overnight in the refrigerator. (The wine
helps to neutralise the salt).

The following morning, rinse the snails
and pack into glass jars containing
spring water.
How to process snails
Add 1/4 cup white vinegar and 2
tablespoons salt to 4.5 litres of water in
a 5 litre saucepan. Boil.

Drop a bag of 50 snails into the rapidly
boiling water.

To cook the snails, boil rapidly for five
minutes, making sure the water does
not go off the boil.

The same water can be used for two or three
batches (depending on slime). Always have
another one or two saucepans ready for the
next batches.

Drain snails and place in a bowl of cold

Use a small, two-pronged fork such as
a cocktail or fondue fork for shelling the

Insert the fork and twist and pull the
snail out of the shell in one movement.
The whole snail is removed in one
piece not stretched or broken.

Hold the snail in your left hand
(as shown here) and the fork in
your right hand.

Insert the fork in the retracted
foot of the snail, twist fork
carefully in an anti-clockwise
direction while rotating your
hand the opposite way, pulling
the snail out of the shell in one

Dont push the fork all the way
through to the shell.

The whole snail is removed in
one piece not stretched or
This takes practice - do dummy runs before tackling your snails for market.
Extracting the snail from the shell
These directions are for a right-handed person.
Quality control
The snail on the left is seriously inferior and should never be sold.
The other snail is a perfect example of a snails produced in free-range snail production.
Check processed snails
for quality. They must be clean,
plump and no sign of slime.
Wizened body, slime
Full body, plump, clean
Preparing the soil

Building the fences

Planting crops

Selecting snails for reproduction

Maintenance of fields


Supplementary feeding

Maintenance of paths

Trimming crops

Rotating crops

Clearing out used fields

Transferring snails

Harvesting snails

Purging snails

Processing snails

Packing and labelling

Invoicing and accounting

Marketing snails

Packing and delivery of snails

The jobs in a free-range snail farm

Production fields
$17,974 (based on production 50,000 snails)

Purging shed (and associated costs) $9,780.

Snails are seasonal and there is no income for the first year while establishing the
breeding program.

Achievable return for establishment investment
Sell 60 dozen snails a week at $12.50 per dozen for 20 weeks = $15,000
Sell 100 dozen snails a week at $12.50 per dozen for 20 weeks = $25,000
Two years after initial establishment, overheads are minimal and you will have a good
understanding of snail behaviour and production management. Snails and markets
can be increased and profits are boosted.
Figures estimated over two-year establishment period using new materials.

Establishment costs can be reduced by utilising second-hand materials and
using resources that may already be available.
Marketing snails
Sonya Begg
Orange NSW

March 2010

This document outlines the importance of marketing and strategic planning to provide
a focused approach for snail products and services to reach the appropriate target market.

Complimentary download from website

Development consent from your local Council may be
necessary. Check with the Health and Building Department.

Preparation of snails must be conducted under the
regulatory system of the Food Standards Australia and
New Zealand (FSANZ).

Laws and rules relating to food processing differ in each local
government council and from state to state so its necessary to
check the FSANZ website for the most current information.

A commercial business requires an Australian Business
Number (ABN) and business name registered with the
Department of Fair Trading.

Construct the external fence first as its the most expensive
component. Build the area as large as practicable for future
Start with four internal fields. It doesnt matter if the
whole area is not under snails for the first couple of years.
Before the snail season starts you need only to construct
one reproduction field and three growing fields.
Use second-hand materials to reduce set-up costs.

Hints for saving money when setting up
Advice is extended to people with a weakened immune system or who have a
history of respiratory or lung disease who are considering working with a
combination of soil and snails.

The use of potting mix and organic soil has been associated with legionnaires
disease, a respiratory infection which, in susceptible individuals such as the elderly
and those with particular respiratory conditions, can prove dangerous to humans.

Most infections are acquired by inhalation or from open wounds on the skin and
people on chronic steroid therapy, those with cancer, organ or bone marrow
transplants, or HIV/AIDS are at risk of contracting these infections.

Refer to Department of Employment and Workplace Relations for information
regarding Occupational Health and Safety in the workplace.

Health safety
Use mask and gloves when working in organic soil.
If you are serious about farming snails commercially in
Australia, free-range or open pasture snail farming offers many
benefits compared to intensive snail farming methods because
its sustainable.

After more than 26 years of research , development and
practical snail farming using many different snail farming
systems, I can without hesitation, recommend free-range snail
farming as the most viable and moral method of snail

Today, people care about how the snails they eat are raised, as
much as how they taste.

The best texture and flavour comes only from snails that have
raised in open pastures of living vegetables and forage crops.

Free-range snail farming is raising snails as nature intended
and its sustainable and an accepted, agricultural farming
practice. Add some passion and you have a recipe for success.

Footnote: Sonya Begg passed away peacefully at Orange, NSW 31 May 2012.

Sonya Begg
Orange NSW
Snail Farming Information Service

Code of Practice

Marketing Strategies

Free-range Snail Farming in Australia

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand

Good Bug Bed

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All rights reserved. No part of this presentation may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording,
circulated or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the copyright

All intellectual property is owned by Sonya Begg, Orange NSW Australia.

Modification or use of any of the content for any purpose is illegal. Requests to
use photos, quotations or extracts from this presentation should be addressed
to the author.

The information contained in this document is based on knowledge and
understanding at the time of writing. It does not warrant or assume any legal
liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any
information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed.