Peter Monaghan, a small rural farmer from Maghera, Co. Cavan, was in search of an additional income source to supplement his revenue. Recognizing that his small suckler farm alone would not generate a viable income, Monaghan explored various enterprises before settling on an unconventional choice – a snail farm.
Passionate about working the land, Monaghan saw the potential in snail farming, especially considering the relatively low initial investment and the evident gap in the market. After extensive research, Inis Escargot was established in 2015. The farm now breeds, fattens, finishes, and exports snails directly from its premises, raising approximately three million snails annually, with the majority being exported.
Operating a snail farm is a seven-day-a-week commitment, similar to milking. Monaghan emphasizes the importance of being present every evening to feed, manage, and pick the snails. Inis Escargot has become one of Ireland’s largest snail farms, leading the way in terms of knowledge and experience, having perfected a farming method that proves successful.
In addition to breeding and selling snails, Inis Escargot also offers training courses for aspiring snail farmers. Monaghan, who also manages a small beef herd, provides on-farm and virtual training courses, sharing tried and tested methods he has perfected over the years. The aim is to help individuals transition into snail farming, either on a full- or part-time basis, gradually moving away from their existing jobs.
Starting up gradually is recommended to maintain low risk, both financially and physically. The training includes ongoing support, with the goal of creating a community network of successful snail farmers across the country. Monaghan believes that snail farming can yield a substantial amount of product from a small piece of land, making Ireland an ideal location for this type of business.
Inis Escargot is one of only 30 snail farms in Ireland, but the popularity of snail farming is on the rise. The snail growing season begins in January, with infant snails fed forage rape and a high-cost calcium powder mix. While the idea of consuming snails may not be appetizing to some, escargot offers several notable benefits. It is an excellent source of protein and is rich in iron and other minerals, making it beneficial for those struggling to maintain a healthy diet.
Currently, Spain is the largest grower of snails. However, with the severe rise in temperatures caused by climate change, Ireland is increasingly seen as a more favorable geographical location for the snail farming industry.