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OverviewEscargot has always been linked with French cuisine and not something that you would believe to be associated with the West of Ireland but that is exactly what you’ll find on Steven and Sandra Ryan’s farm in Tuam, Co. Galway. Exclusive Escargot, this unique business rears 400,000/500,000 fresh Irish snails on an annual basis on just 1/4 of an acre of land. Now that’s a great use of limited space!
Meet the Maker
Necessity is the mother of invention and this you might say is how Exclusive Escargot came to be. Steven Ryan trained and worked as a barber before returning to work on the family farm. The income was not enough to comfortably support his family and he began to look at alternatives to adding value and income to his farm. After undertaking some research Steven came across Snail Farming. He spent a year researching and visiting other snail farms around Ireland and slowly but surely what is today Exclusive Escargot, came to be. Both Steven and his wife Sandra work within the business and there is a good balance between the two, as Steven looks to the future and potential of the business, Sandra looks after the day to day operations and business development.
The Exclusive Escargot range are farmed on just 1/4 of an acre of land on the Ryan’s family farm in Tuam, which is amazing when you think of the use of land for more conventional farming. Between 400,000 – 500,000 Irish snails are produced here annually. Snails are largely prolific with them being both male and female in gender, breeding results in both partners laying around 100 baby snails at a time. They reach their maturity between 7 and 8 months. A mature snail will have a slight curve at the bottom of their shell indicating they’ve reached full maturity. Harvesting usually begins in January and takes place over 4 months.
The farm is organised in such a way to shelter and protect the snails. Loose timber planks are laid out in pyramid style on a centre beam. On each side of the pyramid you’ll find rapeseed and flouring bee plants. The snails hibernate during the day on the underside of the planks and come out at night to feed on the plants. Their diet is supplemented by specially formulated feed. The snails are protected from birds and rodents by netting and high metal sheeting located around the perimeter of the farm. The boundaries of
While Steven currently has to send his live snails abroad to be processed as there is not suitable facility in Ireland to do so, he has secured financial investment to set up his own purpose built facility on his land in Tuam. All of the farming, processing and finishing touches will be managed by Steven and his team.
And what a finished result it is. The escargot are stored in natural brine and are ready for cooking or serving for chefs or fans of this delicacy. High in protein, escargot are becoming more and more popular in the Irish market. They can be enjoyed simply with some garlic butter and parsley. Don’t knock it until you try it, you’ll be pleasantly surprised we assure!
Exclusive Escargot are keen to share their passion of snail farming with the public and have set up a wonderful online shop in which you can buy their products but all all the equipment you will need to create your very own snail farm!
Steven has done his due diligence when producing this unique product. Snails are well looked after and given everything they need to survive and thrive in a carefully constructed and comfortable habitat. Steven also runs his farm on just 1/4 of an acre of land, much smaller when you consider conventional farming methods. Through this practice he is promoting a more sustainable agricultural practice.
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