Islay Estate Farming
When Nigel and Donald McKerrell gave up farming, there farms at Gartbreck and Ronnachmore – just to the southwest of Bowmore – came back in hand.
Islay Estates have been working the ground, repairing the fences and thereby increasing the productivity of the land. A small amount of malting barley is grown and is sold to Bruichladdich Distillery for the production of uniquely Islay whisky.
We have a flock of sheep that consists of Blackfaces and Scotch Mules. Most of the lambs from these sheep are sold through United Auctions, with a small number being sold on to Bridgend Hotel to be enjoyed by visitors and locals alike.
We have a small herd of Pedigree Luing cows and heifers that were reared on Oronsay so are well acclimatised to west coast weather. They are currently grazing at Gartbreck and Ronnachmore and the oldest of them are in calve to the Luing bull.
As well as the livestock that graze on the farm we have a very large number of Greenland, Barnacle and Whitefront geese that migrate to Islay at the end of September and stay until April. In addition to this, there are Greylag geese that are increasing in number and are present throughout the year; they generally roost on the mosses during the summer and spend time out at sea but they come into the crops just before harvest time and can destroy a field of barley very quickly.
Farming is increasingly becoming a mixture of food production and environmental management.