Pigs, sheep, Highland cows . . . and Shanti!
It’s not just the wildlife at Eagle Brae that we care deeply about here at Eagle Brae. Did you know that we have some rare livestock breeds too? We have a flock of Hebridean Sheep, a herd of Black Highland Cows and a passel of pedigree Berkshire pigs. All hardy breeds that cope well with the weather here in Scotland.
And, of course, there’s Shanti, our Bernese Mountain Dog. A rare breed all of her very own, who adores welcoming guests when they arrive. So, sit back, relax, and get ready to find out about the incredible animals that call Eagle Brae home . . .
Our passel pedigree of pigs
We have a small group of Berkshire pigs. They are a heritage breed that originated in England. They’re known for their distinctive black coats and white markings. Unlike many modern pig breeds, Berkshires are generally raised on small farms and allowed to roam freely. This means they get plenty of exercise and eat a natural diet, resulting in healthier and more flavourful meat. In fact, Berkshire meat is to pork what wagyu is to beef. Berkshires are also bred in Japan’s Kagoshima Prefecture. The meat from Berkshires is also known by the Japanese term, Kurobota, Japanese for ‘black pig’. Generally, authentic Kurobuta/Berkshire pork must have a pedigree from an established herd in England or Japan.
These pigs are very friendly and have great personalities. They quite often have us smiling to ourselves at their antics. The breed is also the oldest in the UK, with some suggesting that records of its existence stretch right back to mid-17th Century. They were discovered by Oliver Cromwell’s army when stationed in Reading. The soldiers were keen to carry the news of these wonderful hogs of Berkshire to the outside world.
Our rare breed sheep – with four horns!
These sheep are native to the north of Scotland. They have distinctive black wool that is highly prized by hand spinners. And, although many sheep have horns, the Hebridean sheep are one of a handful of breeds that have four!
These sheep are surprisingly adaptable and thrive in a variety of environments. They are well-suited to grazing on rough terrain and can withstand harsh weather conditions. They are adaptable and low maintenance. This makes them an excellent choice for the rugged Scottish landscape and weather conditions. They are believed to be one of the oldest breeds of sheep in the world, with evidence of their existence dating back to the Iron Age. Once a common sight on the Scottish islands, their numbers have dwindled over time as other breeds became more popular.
Fortunately, renewed interest in rare breeds has led many small-scale farmers and small holdings to turn to the 4 Horn Hebridean Black Sheep. In addition to their high-quality wool, they are also valued for their meat, which is lean and flavourful.
More rare breeds with horns
The Highland Coo (cow) is definitely a symbol of Scotland. The big ginger shaggy cow with horns has long vied with the likes of the Loch Ness monster as the most iconic creature in Scotland. But did you know they can be a variety of colours and were originally black instead of ginger? Queen Victoria commented on a trip to the Highlands that she preferred the reddy-brown coloured cows. And so, this resulted in selective breeding to produce more of that colour.
These gentle giants are the oldest registered breed in the world, but that is mostly due to their Herd Book predating all others. They are hardy creatures, originating in Scotland’s Highlands and west coastal islands. They can cope well when they live in areas severe in climate and lashed by the North Atlantic gales. This is because of their unusual double coat. The outer oily hair covers a downy undercoat, giving them double to protection from the elements. It also helps to keep them cool in the summer, and their long fringe helps protect their eyes from flies.
In times gone by, they were kept as house cows because of the high butterfat content of their milk and the high-quality tenderness of their meat. In fact, scientific studies have discovered that Highland beef is significantly lower in cholesterol than other breeds.
Shanti is our beloved Bernese Mountain dog. Eagle Brae would not be the same without her greeting the guests and checking up on our rare breeds. Just like Highland Cows, Bernese Mountain dogs are gentle giants. They are intelligent, eager to please, affectionate and loyal. In the past, farmers would keep Bernese Mountain dogs to guard livestock and fend off predators. Luckily, Shanti only needs to check in with our livestock occasionally and generally doesn’t need to guard them!
We love that we are able to have and care for, such wonderful animals here at Eagle Brae. We spend a lot of our time making sure they are all happy and healthy. Just like we do with every guest that steps foot into our cabins. We’re sure you will see the quality, and feel the joy that makes Eagle Brae what it is when you come to visit! And don’t forget that all of our log cabins are dog-friendly!