SEAWEED CULTIVATION

In 2021 the estate developed a small-scale seaweed cultivation site along the west side of Eilean Coltair. The cultivated species Saccharina latissima is abundant on shorelines across Scotland but with the development of this site Kilchoan Estate is protecting naturally occurring kelp forests, contributing to the rising demand for seaweed as a raw product and enriching the marine habitat. It supports local economies around Argyll as the demand for seaweed increases globally due to its usage in a broad range of industries. It can be used in various forms, replacing less sustainable products in pharmaceutical, agricultural, and packaging industries. The Kilchoan Estate set-up consists of 2 x 60 meter longlines connected by a zig-zag method. The total growing area is 360 linear meters and can produce up to 3.5 tonnes of sugar kelp per year.

HIGHLAND CATTLE

Apart from being an iconic native breed, Highland cattle perform an important role in conservation, restoration and habitat management. They are extremely hardy and can live in the harshest conditions, browsing on rough, otherwise unproductive uplands making them ideally suited to the land, climate and habitats of Kilchoan.

Their browsing habits and light weight make them ideal for grazing Sites of Special Scientific Interest, establishing hay meadows, opening forest floors and regenerating heather moorland. They are broad-spectrum browsing herbivores which means their diet is not confined solely to grasses.

The Kilchoan Fold of Highland Cattle was founded in 2015 when the owner selected the foundation stock of breeding heifers from the Cladich Fold.  Kilchoan’s foundation fold was built on four very different but old bloodlines. Lady Jane Campbell can trace her breeding back to the well-established Lady Whites of Balmoral; Lucilla Mor has Auchnacraig breeding from Mull; Princess Mairi 3rd is descended from the renowned Douneside bloodlines and finally Ellitt, who can trace her ancestors back to the Pennygown Fold, again from Mull.

Whilst the cachet of “bred from past prize winners” is an excellent start, we intend to build on this and breed Highland cattle that are equally pleasing to the eye here at Kilchoan. It is our intention to have cattle that are of the West Coast type with a good top line, a good gait and in the females, a sweet face.

BEEHIVES

The estate houses and manages a number of colonies of pure Scottish black bee who produce a crop of honey each year whilst pollinating plants within the gardens and wider estate. The Scottish black bee (Apis mellifera subsp. mellifera) is well suited to the cooler maritime climates of the west coast and is a truly native bee sub-species.

Bees off all types are threatened globally by environmental degradation, habitat loss, hybridisation, pests and diseases. By housing these colonies we aim to contribute to the preservation of these hard-working charismatic insects.

We are currently lucky enough to remain free of Varroa destructor, a non-native parasitic mite which can cause significant harm to colonies and often requires chemical control. Although in the area, none have been found in our colonies as yet.

We aim to promote careful decision making when managing hives in order to maximise the well-being of the colonies and limit the spread of pests and diseases. We make sure they are well housed, protected from the weather and select our apiary sites wisely. We view our relationship with the bees as a two-way arrangement and only ever remove honey when we are certain the colony has surplus, allowing them to over winter on their own honey. The honeybee is a species emblematic of the work at Kilchoan; many individuals collaborating with a common goal for the benefit of all.