WA nurse branches into snail farming as a career change

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Jane Goff was looking for a change when she came across the idea of snail farming.

A nurse by trade, she liked the idea of a job that was a little bit different and would allow her to work outside.

“A friend of mine said she saw something on TV about snail farming,” Ms Goff said.

“I thought she was joking, but I actually looked into it and realised that snail farming, or heliciculture as it’s called, is actually a real thing.

“I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll give that a go’.”

Ms Goff decided she wanted to import snails from Europe to make sure they were safe to consume and were all at the same age and stage of the breeding cycle.

“I want to do this on quite a big, commercially viable scale, so in order to do that I wanted to import breeding stock,” she said.

“It’s not actually a special breed, it’s the common garden snail you find in your backyard, but because no-one’s ever imported edible snails into Australia I’ve had to amend the live import list.

“So, that’s taken me quite some time, just over two years, but we’ve got the approvals through and only one more little bit of red tape to get through and then we should be ready to go.”

Vertical farming on the menu

Rather than fill her paddocks with snails, Ms Goff wants to keep her ecological footprint small and establish a vertical snail farming operation.

“So, normally what you might be able to grow in, say, five acres [.4 hectare], if you go up instead of out, you should be able to do the same in about 1,000 square metres,” she said.

“They’ll be contained in a big greenhouse because, as you can imagine, the neighbours probably don’t want my stock wandering over visiting their garden.

“They’ll be housed in rows of grass and, believe it or not, there is actually specialised electric fencing specifically designed for snails.”

While escargot is increasing in popularity throughout Australia, Ms Goff plans to send most of her stock out to the global market.

“I will do local sales, but I’m actually looking at a global export market,” she said.

“I’ll be selling by the tonne, probably around 2 million snails per year.”

It was when she attended a snail farming course in Europe in 2018 that Ms Goff took the opportunity to try escargot.

“It kind of reminded me of the texture of calamari, I thought,” she said.

“I had them barbecued — I really liked it.”

By Ellie Honeybone (Original ABC Article)