Upon discovering that ‘Mussels feed themselves and come in their own packaging’ Hebridean Mussels Ltd was founded by entrepreneur ‘Jock’ Mackenzie in 1992 for the purposes of cultivating mussels on suspended ropes in West and East Loch Roag. It is now the leading mussel producer on the West Coast of Scotland and exclusive supplier of live mussels to Sainsburys.
Mussels grow in a completely natural way, requiring no feeding or supplements to maintain their health and development. They are a natural low-fat, high-protein seafood and are demonstrably free from any additives.
Scottish rope-grown mussels have been recognised by a leading chef as being the “best in the world” because of their superior size, succulent taste, rich colour and absence of impurities.
Mussels are produced using rope-grown techniques in a natural and environmentally friendly manner. Each spring ‘spat’ ropes are suspended from floating long lines in sea lochs where wild mussel spat (spawn) are present. After drifting in currents for 2 weeks, wild spat attaches to these ropes and feeds on plankton. The spat reach market size in about 30 months.
The other principal method of obtaining mussels in the UK is to dredge mussels from the sea bed, but these mussels frequently contain significant amounts of impurities such as grit and are generally regarded as being inferior to rope grown mussels in appearance, taste and texture.
Hebridean Mussels uses workboats equipped with specialist mussel harvesting equipment. Mussel longlines are lifted by crane from the water and the mussels are then stripped from dropper ropes and delivered in bulk bins to the Shellfish Dispatch Centre at Earshader for primary processing.
Harvesting is carried out all year except during spawning in the warmer summer months. Mussels are harvested and packed the same day then shipped by overnight ferry from Lewis to Ullapool where they are then transported by road to Bellshill, the main seafood distribution hub in Scotland: From here mussels are shipped by road in consolidated loads to the main UK markets.
On Scaliscro we have a small traditional hill farm and run flocks of 300 Blackface ewes, 20 Hebridean Ewes and graze 40 head of Pedigree Highland Cattle. Each autumn young Highland bullocks and heifers are swum across the Isle of Little Bernera for wintering, and then either taken to market or returned to the Scaliscro breeding fold
Many years ago the cattle on Little Bernera went wild and could not be gathered for 2 years even with a posse of 20 herdsman and the best cattle dogs on Lewis. The Strathclyde Army Corps assisted by building a stockade on the island, into which we tempted the cattle with regular feeding. We shut the cattle in using a rope strung across the sound, and all but one of the beasts broke out when we landed. It was a start, so the bullock was quickly taken across to the mainland. To our amazement early next morning we found the rest of the cattle had swam across to join the lone bullock.
We then took all the cattle to market immediately for fear of losing them again. Alas, no butcher would buy them and claimed Highland cattle of this age were too strong for the local palate. All our beef has since been privately butchered and sold locally.
Tel : 01851 672 325 Fax: 01851 672 393 - firstname.lastname@example.org - Scaliscro, Uig, Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides, HS2 9EL