Galloway cattle are mid-sized cattle bred for their tender, well-marbled meat. Their meat has a fine texture, as they have never been bred to be working animals. Galloways never have horns, and when crossed with horned cattle generally produce hornless offspring. The quality of Galloway beef (flavor and juiciness) has been written about for many centuries. They were traditionally long-lived, hill cattle that developed in a harsh environment of wind, cold, coarse grasses and little lush pasture. This has lead to Galloways evolving a number of genetic features such as their coat, their meat quality, a low incidence of calving difficulty, an ability to prosper grazing on coarse bushes and grasses and a very high feed-conversion efficiency. The Galloway’s coat is unusual in a number of ways. Unusually for beef cattle, there are three main coat colors: black (often with a reddish tinge), dun (light brown) and silver (gray). Due to the harsh environment in which Galloways evolved, their coat has high insulation properties. This coat has modified the cattle’s fat distribution: it requires less external (selvage) fat for insulation, which allows them to deposit much of their fat as intra-muscular, creating marbling. Marbling fat has a healthy composition of fatty acids and provides meat with flavor and juiciness. Galloway meat is high in protein, minerals and anti-oxidants, while low in cholesterol and saturated fat, and has an exceptionally good Omega 6:3 ratio. Galloways do not need to be fed any grain to naturally achieve high levels of marbling, and in Australia are entirely raised on a diet purely of grass or hay. Galloways are a landrace breed originating in southwest Scotland and are said to one of or the oldest, purest cattle breeds. Many Galloways were exported around the 1840s to North and South America and Australia as ‘Black Polled cattle,’ a name that included both Aberdeen Angus and Galloway cattle. More recent introductions of the breed to Australia originated from the UK and New Zealand between the 1940s and 1960s. Galloways Australia, a breed association, has maintained a ‘closed herd book’ for any Galloway registered with it, meaning that an animal can only be registered as a Galloway if its sire and dam also come from a closed herd book. Thus, Galloways Australia is uniquely attempting to maintain 100% pure genetics for this breed. In Australia, since 1999, a mere 650 Galloways, predominantly females, have been registered, and the Rare Breeds Trust Australia (RBTA) recognizes this variety as a rare breed in Australia. Currently, meat from this cattle breed is available mainly at farmers’ markets or from specialty butchers’ shops known to market Galloway beef. The rise of the dominance of the so-called ‘Angus’ breed has had a profound effect on minor breeds like the Galloway. Angus cattle dominate sale yards: anything that is not Angus receives a lower price. Cattle with ‘different’ characteristics, like Galloways, receive a severely reduced price, resulting in fewer people breeding this variety and a shrinking gene pool. The global emphasis on ‘black cattle’ puts further pressure on the silver and dun cattle that are naturally Galloway.
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