Carefully Bred and Cared-For Cattle
In 1980, we started with just 10 cows, and now we have a herd of 130 dairy cattle on Sgriob-Ruadh Farm.
We keep a closed dairy herd. This means we breed all of our own cattle — something that allows us more control over herd breeding and health. It's a very effective way to limit the threats of disease and hereditary issues, ensuring both great quality of life and quality of milk.
They are mixed breed — predominantly Friesian, but with some Norwegian Red, Swiss Brown, Dairy Shorthorn, Meuse Rhine Issel and Jersey.
Our cattle are bred for high protein and hardiness; essential to survive in the island’s tough, wild climate. They are a little hardier and chunkier than the average mainland dairy cow and this massively helps them to handle the Isle of Mull's elements — producing milk that's perfect for cheesemaking.
Scottish cheese made with high quality, unpasteurised milk from hardy island cattle
Fed the Good Stuff, All Year Round
We try to have our cows outside as much as possible, however weather often dictates how much we're able to do so. Once there is enough grass and the fields are sufficiently dry in the spring they head out, returning to their comfortable sheds, with their individual mattress beds, automatic brushes and abundance of warm draff for the colder months.
Even in the summer they enjoy life under cover, with the ever unpredictable west coast weather, so as soon as the rain comes, they are often found waiting at the gate to be let inside again!
During the winter, the cows are largely fed on silage, which we make during the summer months and draff (spent barley grains) from the nearby Tobermory Distillery, as well as hard feeding, ensuring they always have the correct balance of minerals and vitamins in their diet.
A Living, Working Farm
We have a few other farm animals around Sgriob-ruadh, including some rogue peacocks, and curious goats.
Additionally to producing cheese though, we run a small scale pork unit. Our pork is deliciously sweet, with our inquisitive piggies being fed on the broken biscuits from the Island Bakery, and some of our leftover whey from the cheesemaking and spent whey full of yeast from the distilling. We are lucky to have an abattoir on the island which means the animals do not travel far; we then make sausages, dry cure bacon, black pudding, hams and roasting joints at Sgriob-ruadh, selling the product in our own farm shop as well as in a number of shops across the island.