Belties make great suckler cows. They are long lived, fertile and maternal and can produce calves at up to 15 years old. The Belted Galloway is a remarkably hardy animal and is generally out wintered no matter how harsh the conditions are. The breed is generally docile although cows with newborn calves are very protective.
- Cattle similar to the Galloways have been kept in south west Scotland for centuries.
- By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the cattle of Galloway were earning a good reputation and through selective breeding became a polled breed.
- In 1862 the Aberdeen Angus and the Galloway were entered in a polled herdbook but fifteen years later the Galloway had their own herdbook.
- The Belted Galloway is thought to have developed the belt from crossing with the Lakenvelder in the seventeenth century.
- The Belted Galloways were originally part of the main Galloway herdbook but a separate Belted Galloway Society was formed in 1921.
- A stocky breed with a thick, shaggy coat and face giving the Belted Galloway a “teddy bear” appearance.
- The breed is medium sized. Cows weigh around 550kg and bulls 850kg.
- The coat colour is usually black with some dun and some red animals.
- The famous belt is white in colour and runs over the middle of the animal.
Belties can be finished within 24-30 months on forage alone. The beef is known to be well marbled
Extremely hardy and adaptable to a wide range of habitats and environmental conditions, the Belted Galloway has proven value for both conservation and commercial use. A gentle, placid nature and attractive appearance makes the Belted Galloway a very useful animal for grazing sites with public access.
Many hill farmers keep herds of Belted Galloways because their distinctive markings makes them easier to spot on the hill. On Dartmoor, there are stories that some farmers switched to Belted Galloways as their white stripe makes them more visible to motorists at night.
Although most Belties are bred pure due to their distinctive appearance, the Galloway when put to a Whitebred Shorthorn produces the popular Blue Grey and using Belted Galloways to produce a crossbred, upland suckler cow would be similarly effective. The Belted Galloway has a wide pelvis and can be put to a large continental bull to produce a fast growing calf.
Did you know?
Belties have a double coat. This means that as well as the longer outer hairs, they have a soft ‘mossy’ undercoat. This helps them to keep warm and dry. It means that Belties don’t have to grow a thick layer of fat under their skin to keep warm, which makes the beef much better.
The Rare Breeds Survival Trust is the leading national charity working to conserve and protect the United Kingdom's rare native breeds of farm animals from extinction. We rely on the support of our members, grants and donations from the public to raise the £700,000 a year needed to maintain our conservation work with rare UK native breeds of farm animals. Visit www.rbst.org.uk to see how you can help.