Snail Breeding Method

Helix Aspersa Müller reproduction, breeding, drying/preparation for cooking. Find out more about the necessary steps to move from one stage to the next.

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Breeding Method

A full year’s process for the best possible results.

Reproduction

Snail reproduction takes place in a specially designed reproduction chamber where it is possible to maintain specific temperature and relative humidity levels. In this chamber the whole process of reproduction can be monitored: copulation, egg laying, incubation and attending to the hatchlings until they are transferred to the farm.

In total, the period of reproduction lasts about 60 days. Pregnancy last about 15 days and the eggs incubation period is about 30 days depending on temperature.

Using a reproduction chamber allows us to:

  • minimize the mortality of the newborn
  • control the exact population to be placed in a batch
  • standardize the time for the fattening of the snails per batch or per farm
  • facilitate harvesting by enabling the sorting of snails according to size
  • adhere to the fattening period of maximum 150 days

Fattening

Fattening occurs in a specially constructed breeding area, we use specially designed greenhouses with wooden structures acting as nests. This design simulates the natural environment of the snail.

The fattening period is the longest phase of the whole breeding procedure. It lasts for 110-150 days depending on the following parameters:

  • temperature: desired average daily temperature of 18-20 οC
  • humidity: ideal relative humidity within the netted enclosure of 85%
  • photoperiod: ideally 10+ hours per day
  • Food type: special snail aliment is a necessary pre-requisite
  • Nest type: high quality wooden nest is recommended
  • Batch density: avoid overpopulation
  • Climatic conditions of the region: affect the net breeding time

The choice of farming season is based on the climate of the area and determines the total time needed for the snail to reach marketable size. There are three periods in which fattening can take place:

MaySeptember
This period is recommended only for regions, which have cold winters and very mild summers, without heat waves, and with an average daily temperature of about 25˚C. Breeding lasts for around 155 days and the snails do not go through the phase of hibernation or summer estivation.

MarchNovember
This is the most difficult period for breeding and is recommended for regions, which have warm summers, without heat waves, but where the remainder of the year is mild. In this case the snails go into estivation around the end of June and will then wake up again around the end of August, during this period they will not eat and therefore they will not grow. Fattening lasts for 150 full breeding days.

September – May
This is the most common period for breeding snails in most regions of Greece where snail farms have been established. In this case the snails grow from September until the beginning of December. With the onset of winter the snails hibernate, and will continue their growth from March until May.  The total breeding period will not surpass 150 days and is always susceptible to changes in the weather.

Drying

The process of drying is the final stage before the snails are ready for the market. This provides two important benefits:

  • The supply of «clean» snails
  • The ability to store live snails for up to 5 months

In order to be able to supply live snails, we first need to ensure that they are dormant and that they have formed a sturdy and durable epiphragm across the mouth of the shell. This is achieved by establishing drought conditions during the process of drying. In this way, before the snails are cooked, they will have eliminated all of their faeces and will be clean and edible therefore avoiding the alternative procedure with flour and salt that housewives used to carry out in the past. The fact that the snails are dormant means that they do not suffer a violent death, something which is clearly evident from their soft, smooth flesh.