Good income on small ground: Newbie winner on savvy switch to snails

Steven Ryan from Tuam, Co. Galway, has been selected as the winner of the 2019 ‘Newbie’ new farm entrant competition.

Steven diversified the farm business in 2014, setting up a snail farm alongside the family’s beef and sheep farm.

The farm is now producing 4,000kg of snails for the export market annually.

Speaking after the award, Steven was keen to highlight the potential of snail farming as another income stream on farms providing “a good income from a small piece of ground”.

There is also flexibility to work around busy periods such as calving, lambing, harvest, etc.

Steven feels that snail farming in Ireland has great potential and is heavily involved in plans to develop a processing facility in Ireland giving farmers a home market for their product.

“We started out using Google and YouTube for information and through trial and error developed a system that suits the Irish climate.”

John Moriarty, Newbie project advisor with Teagasc, said: “Those considering entering agriculture or diversifying their business can learn a huge amount from Steven’s story.

Steven has identified an enterprise that complemented the existing enterprises while maintaining a quality work-life balance.

“The award includes €500 towards training or an international farm visit, costs associated with the making of a farm video, a plaque for display on-farm, and the opportunity to attend a Newbie conference with other national winners from across Europe,” the advisor added.


The Newbie Network is an EU Horizon 2020 funded project with 10 European partners.

Newbie offers a platform by bringing together new entrants, successors, advisors, researchers, important regional and national actors and relevant stakeholders in national networks, with the aim of enabling new entrants to successfully establish a sustainable farm business in Europe.

New entrants are defined in the Newbie network as anyone who starts a new farm business, or becomes involved in an existing farm business at any stage of their lives.

New entrants across sectors and regions face common barriers such as: access to land; capital; knowledge; and labour.

The Newbie Network will identify and highlight new business models that overcome some of the barriers faced by new-entrants through 90 case studies and a video library available to new entrants across Europe.