FARMING & CONSERVATION
The current owners are farmers by nature and this is where their true passions lie. Keen to produce good quality, tasty meat, we farm a little differently.
How an animal is reared and fed affects its flavour. Farms supplying standard cuts to the average supermarket need to keep costs very low. Some take young calves from their mothers at an early age and rear on powdered formula. They then fatten them up for 13-16 months on grains, which produces quicker, cheaper, blander meat. Water content (more shrinkage when cooked) also tends to be quite high. At Killean Estate, we keep ‘suckler herds’ where the young stay with their mums. The herds are fed on grass for 24 months which produces a slower matured, higher quality, tastier meat. Studies have shown that meat from grass-fed animals is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Our salty sea air also provides a good quality of grass.
We breed two types of cattle on our land – the native Highland (the ones with the long hair and big horns!) and the infamous Aberdeen Angus. Being native cattle, the highland are slow-growing animals which means that the meat offers better nutritious values and is lower in cholesterol than many other varieties. Reared in the most natural environment possible on the hills and uplands for 36-months, we don't artificially 'push' our animals to achieve carcass weight but allow them to develop naturally. Our animals are never given any unnecessary medicines, artificial growth enhancers or probiotics, producing an excellent modern beef carcass with the lean, well-marbled, flesh that ensures tenderness and succulence with a very distinctive flavour.
The Aberdeen Angus are renowned for quality because it strikes the best balance between fat, lean meat and bone to deliver a dish that balances subtle and delicious flavours (for the fat is seriously edible), with a meal that is naturally high in the antioxidants Omega 3 & 6. From a farming perspective, we also like to rear them because they are good natured, rugged and easy to calve, not to mention being beautiful, big black and glossy (although we do confess to being a bit biased). Our Aberdeen Angus spend 24 months grazing the lowland coastal pastures.
We breed and rear two breeds of lamb on the estate – the texel breed which is famed for its exceptional carcass qualities. A hardy and adaptable breed, it is robust enough to do well on our exposed Scottish hillsides and simply thrives on the lush lowland pasture. The texel produces quality, lean meat. We also farm the native Scottish Blackface on our hillsides, which is a more robust breed and is able to cope with the harsh Atlantic fronts that occasionally blow our way.
CONSERVATION & ESTATE MANAGEMENT
All the farms and estate are managed in conjunction with various environmental bodies to preserve our heritage and maintain natural habitats. We work with Scottish Natural Heritage, the RSPB and the Forestry Commission to preserve natural habitats for birds, mammals and wildflowers as well as cutting back invasive bracken around our historic monuments.
Killean Estate has some of the finest trees in Kintyre and has recently benefitted from an EU subsidy to enable further planting of birch and larch as well as Sitka spruce to bring the woodlands back to their prime and assist the Blackcock to repopulate the area. Our estate staff busily manage the estate on a daily basis to replant the trees etc and ensure they are allowed to grow by careful observation and intervention where necessary. Flowering shrubs are particularly special in early summer and we also have a number of mature tropical planting around the main gardens.
Natural wildlife abounds throughout the estate. Ravens and buzzards nest in the area, woodpeckers are often heard and there are even rare eagles nesting up on the central Kintyre hill-tops leading over to Carradale. Sika and roe deer roam freely around the estate and there are dozens of rabbits with burrows in the sandy coastal dunes. Pheasant, partridge, grouse and other native game birds are found on the estate in great numbers. We are also fortunate to be frequented by seals, swans, otters and countless seabirds on our coastline. We are an active member of the Kintyre goose management scheme which aims to balance agricultural and conservation interests, as well as providing the local Owl Trust with valuable information.