Welfare at Loch Duart begins in our two hatcheries and continues on our sea sites in Eddrachillies Bay which we farm in rotation. Our system involves extended fallowing to allow for natural cleansing and regeneration, using a tailored strategy based on site conditions. In any three year period each site is fallowed from five to twelve months to ensure industry leading sea bed quality results.
We have adopted a total husbandry approach which maximises the health and welfare of the fish and minimises environmental impact. This involves maintaining significantly lower stocking densities than current industry standards and specifications – 98.5% water and 1.5% fish means that our fish are active, lean and healthy. This gives Loch Duart salmon the space to grow naturally – and more space for each fish allows them to stay active and healthy.
The Loch Duart feeding regime mimics the irregular feeding of fish in the natural environment. This allows periods of rest and reduces feed waste. The natural diet of a salmon is fish and we believe that this must be the major part of the diet. Our bespoke diet is based on sustainably caught Icelandic fish , usually capelin by-product, and is certified as coming from sources which are fished within safe biological limits. We do not use growth promoters, antibiotics or anti-foulants. To keep our nets clean, Loch Duart salmon are swum to a new enclosure about every six weeks, allowing the nets to wind dry to remove marine growth.
The security of the enclosures and containment are also important at Loch Duart. High mooring specifications and nets which are replaced every two cycles minimise escapes and deter predators.
In short, we are doing everything that can be done for the welfare of the fish and to preserve the environment – but this has consequences and our production level is roughly half the full capacity of the Loch Duart sites which would be possible under more intensive regimes.
Over 17 years ago Loch Duart was instrumental in bringing the RSPCA Freedom Food approval system into salmon farming. This approval scheme now covers about 70% of Scottish farmed salmon production. At Loch Duart, we are committed to improving the welfare of the fish in our care and believe low-volume high-quality production is the future for the salmon industry.