A rare breed chick at Dumfries House
A rare breed chick at Dumfries House

Little newborn rarebreeds spring to life

The education farm at Dumfries House estate has welcomed the first of its 2019 new rare breeds arrivals.

The first chicks from the prized Scots Grey and Scots Dumpy breeds of hen arrived last week, joining the British Landrace piglets that arrived in mid-February.

Last year saw the birth of 18 Shetland Geese, 28 Black-laced White Turkeys, 45 Shetland Ducks, and 48 rare-breed hens at Valentin’s Education Farm on Dumfries House estate.

Denise Richardson-Rowell, education farm manager, attributes the high yield to the organic feed and free range conditions enjoyed by animals on the estate.

She said: ‘We pride ourselves on providing good nutrition for the animals. Their organic feed, alongside the big paddocks and free-range conditions they enjoy, is likely to make a positive impact on their ability to remain fertile and reproduce.

A rare breed chick at Dumfries House

‘At present, we have five incubators full of Scots Grey and Scots Dumpy eggs just waiting to hatch. We had some magical moments last year when the chicks arrived when school pupils were visiting the education farm so they got to see it all happening first-hand.

‘There’s certainly plenty of demand from smallholders and breeders for our rare breeds – indeed, there’s a waiting list for some – which is good news for the preservation of these endangered species.’

The Kauffman Education Gardens, where thousands of school children each year learn about the skills involved in cultivating and cooking vegetables, and the commercial Home Farm, a quarter-of-a-mile away on the 2000-acre property, have both been declared organic, realising a
major element of HRH The Prince of Wales’s vision for the East Ayrshire site he saved for the nation in 2007.

The Prince saved Dumfries House in order to use it to help people engage in learning experiences that promote confidence and personal development, as well as offer training in real-life skills to open up future employment opportunities.

John Rowell and Denise Richardson-Rowell

Valentin’s Education Farm contains 10 different rare breeds of animal and each month welcomes hundreds of school children, who learn about animal husbandry, the provenance of food and by-products of farm animals. The farm is home to rare breeds that include Castlemilk Moorit sheep, British Landrace and Tamworth pigs, Shetland geese, Scotch Grey and Scotch Dumpy chickens, Pied Crollwitzer turkeys, and three breeds of cattle – Beef Shorthorn, Whitebred Shorthorn, and Vaynol.

More than 8000 school pupils last year participated in education programmes run by The Prince’s Foundation at Dumfries House.

The Prince’s Foundation is now the second-largest employer in East Ayrshire with more than 260 full-time and part-time staff across the house, estate and education and training programmes.

Requests for more information on education at Dumfries House can be directed to education@dumfries-house.org.uk