Eggs from our free roaming birds : very special eggs from very special birds - only available from the farm here.
The shop is open every day from 10 am, and obviously eggs are available on our market days. We welcome trade customers for restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and chefs requiring a better quality of egg, produced in extensive husbandry conditions, with birds who have access to fresh clean grazing year around. Please read on to learn about our birds, and why their eggs are SO special.
Our main flock is made up of Black Rock hens. We consider it the Best Egg Laying Breed of chicken for free range pastured units. It is bred from specially selected strains of
Rhode Island Red and Barred Plymouth Rock from a single hatchery in Scotland :- Crosslee Hatchery, Bridge of Weir, who took over the grandparent stocks when Peter Siddons of Muirfield retired.
With the parent birds being both natural breeds, which have been carefully selected for more than half a century, the cross exhibits superb genetic vigour and excellent health record. There has been no recorded salmonella infection in any U.K. flock
Our birds range over permanent pasture. We move the houses regularly to keep them on fresh grazing all the time.
First thing in the morning they are let out of the houses, having had their breakfast. They spend a few hours grazing and chasing bugs. Gradually they go back inside to lay and top up with layers rations which is available ad lib. The feed we use is not organic because here in the Highlands of Scotland it is too expensive to get and it would make the eggs very costly indeed. However we do use a feed that is GM free, has no animal products and has no artificial colourants to the best of our knowledge. It is a 16% protein feed and does not leave a fishy taint to the eggs that other higher protein feeds do. As our birds range properly on good mixed permanent pasture the taste of the egs is improved by the wide range of extra ingredients the birds have in the recipe.
Over the middle of the day they carry on laying, dust bathing, exploring the fields seeking out bugs, grubs and sweet shoots, and on good days sunbathing.
In the afternoon we may feed a small wheat feed outside if the weather requires. This also allows us to encourage them to investigate certain areas of their surroundings and is a valuable feed supplement in the wet cold winter weather. We also collect eggs, top up feed and check all the hens.
The eggs are brought back to the packing room (converted from the old grain room of the mill) where they are trayed and boxed ready for sale. The best way to keep eggs clean is to use clean shavings in the Nest boxes and keep the hens on fresh grazing.
The Black Rock produces a good large brown egg - we keep birds for 2 laying seasons and in the second year we have problems getting the eggs into boxes they are so big !! Unlike some other hybrids they have a low proportion of medium eggs and small ones are rare after the first few months.
In the evening they are shut in at dusk to protect them from predators. In the summer this means staying up very late as the nights are very light here and Black Rocks don't like to miss a minute of ranging time. It is a lovely time - they sing a delightful melody roosting on their perches.
In the autumn we allow the birds to have a full moult and production goes down a bit. This coincides with a drop in numbers of tourists so we let them have a good rest and are rewarded with great laying in their second ( and even third season ). The old layers we sell in the autumn go on to make great backyard pets and can continue to lay for 4 - 5 more years.
Our eggs are all registered Free Range. We can never compete on price with the intensive free range producers; those who have flocks of 500 and more. This is because our birds are kept in small flocks in individual housing that allows us to manage their grazing closely. All of this takes more time, but it means that our birds have a MUCH higher quality of life, and of access to herbs, seeds, bugs and grubs. This lets them make the stunningly delicious eggs that our customers have been travelling miles for, for 20 years.
If you live in North Argyll and are interested in trying our eggs drop in and see us.
The new LORN Producers Market is also here - every First and Third Thursday of the month, this is a wonderful opportunity for you to sample many more of the wonderful products of the area - both food and crafts.
Tim and Jill Bowis
Kintaline Mill Farm,
Benderloch, OBAN Argyll PA37 1QS Scotland
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