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Cattle Breeds Endemic to the United Kingdom - The Galloway

By Edited Oct 28, 2016 0 0

British Cattle Breeds

The Galloway

The Galloway cattle breed is endemic to Great Britain. The Galloway has exceptional ability to withstand severe weather. According to hair density tests run by a Canadian Government Experiment Station, the Galloway's coat ranks second only to the buffalo. The Galloway has a double coat like that of many dogs. The soft, undercoat acts as insulation trapping in the warmth while the outer guard hairs help run water and snow off keeping the animal drier than would otherwise be the case. Because of such efficient heating, the Galloway needs 20 to 25% less food than other breeds to maintain its weight in cold weather. Not only can they survive harsh winter conditions but they also adapt really well to warmer climates. The tanned winter pelt of a Galloway makes a wonderfully hard-wearing and attractive floor mat. The summer coat is soft and fine. The best Galloways do not have wiry or curly hair although it can be wavy.

Belted Galloway

The Galloway is an ancient breed, taking its name from the Gauls who lived in the southernmost parts of the Scottish lowlands. These coastal regions are damp and cold although the terrain varies from moors and fertile valleys to mountain ranges. They were known as the black cattle of Galloway.

In the early days, cheese and hides were exported courtesy of the Galloway. Later many were pastured in England and sent to Smithfield market when they were fat enough. Scottish highland beef has always had an enthusiastic following. Improvements have been implemented by careful upgrading within the breed rather than through the introduction of foreign blood.

In 1851, a fire destroyed all records and pedigrees of the Galloway. In 1862, a Polled Herd Book of Galloway, Aberdeen and Angus breeds was published. The first Galloways to go to North America were imported to Toronto, Canada by the Graham brothers. This was followed by importations in 1866 by Michigan State College, Lansing. In 1878, the Galloway Cattle Society of Great Britain produced its own volume of pedigrees followed by the formation of the American Galloway Breeders' Association in 1882. The following year, this Association published Volume I of the North American Galloway Herd Book which lists American and Canadian Galloways. In 1973, belted Galloways were imported into Australia from New Zealand.

The original Galloways were not shedded even through the severest winters so they have remained very hardy and will breed and thrive under very harsh conditions. Galloways are excellent foragers. The calves are small when born but very robust. The small size (75 to 80 pounds) makes for an easy birth for the mother. A very rich milk supply ensures a well-grown calf by weaning and maturation is earlier than most breeds. The cows have excellent longevity and produce calves almost to the end of their life. Steers dress out at 600 to 750 pounds straight off grass, thus providing an excellent financial return to producers.

Galloways never have horns and there should be nothing to suggest horns or scurs. The head is short and broad and the forehead wide. There are several points of view as to whether the Galloway was ever horned but the polled gene has been present for so long that Galloway bulls often throw polled calves from horned cows. This is not always the case in the bovine world.

The ears point forward and upwards and are fringed with long hairs. The eyes are large and prominent and the nostrils wide. The neck is of moderate length and the body deep with well-sprung ribs. The chest is also deep and the back is straight. The Galloway has fleshy hindquarters and the tail is moderately thick. The legs are short but solid. In colour, Galloways are generally black or dun. Black Galloways often have a brownish tip to the coat. Dun Galloways range from a silvery colour through to a brown. Belted Galloways have a broad band of white going round the body behind the elbows and shoulders like a giant belt. Some strains carry a recessive gene for red and white. If the animal is white, there is dark pigmentation round the nose, ears, eyes and udder.

Galloway Cattle

Mature bulls weigh about 1,800 pounds and cows around 1,250 pounds. When slaughtered the meat is juicy and tender. The meat to fat ratio is excellent and the meat is well-marbled. Cutting out is usually up to 62%.

Part of the Galloway's attraction is the ability to produce good beef under less than ideal circumstances. It will graze quite rough pastures and still put on condition. Yet another part of the attraction is the lovely white belt of the belted Galloways.

The Belted Galloway has a visual attraction all his own. 'Belties' can be red and white, dun and white or black and white. The belt can be anywhere between the shoulder and the hip. The Belted Galloway has been found to have a high resistance to pink eye. They adapt surprisingly well to hot conditions. They shed their winter coat and have good foraging abilities. Cows are extremely fertile and have been known to produce over one calf per year. There is documented evidence of a cow in Australia having had three consecutive sets of twins. That’s one way to quickly increase a herd!

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