Original Belted Galloway Cattle

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There is written evidence that there were Belted Galloways in Wigtownshire as as far back as 400 years ago. Miss Flora Stuart, President of the Belted Galloway Society for 20 years and owner of Mochrum Estate, was devoted to Belties and on her death in 2004, bequeathed her land and cattle to her cousin Mr David Bertie, fellow rare breed enthusiast. On the Estate they still breed from the original stock, which is all that is left of that bloodline. They trace back their heritage to 1890, which pre-dates the Galloway Herd Book, started in 1921. There are now just 75 breeding cows left from the original herd, and without this herd they would be in danger of extinction from cross-breeding.
Belties, as they are affectionately known, are long-lived, polled (i.e. without horns), fertile and maternal, producing calves at up to 15 years old. To ensure winter warmth, the Beltie has a double coat of curly hair rather than the layer of backfat most other breeds require, and they shed their coats in warmer weather. Belties are medium sized, with cows weighing around 550kg and bulls 850kg. They thrive on winter rations and rough grazing, perfectly suited to turning rough hill pasture into the finest quality meat. They are adapted for the upland Galloway district, a rugged and hilly coastal region where hardiness is necessary for survival. They are prized for their excellent meat, which is finely marbled and flavoursome due to the foraged herbs.

Similar cattle have been raised in southwestern Scotland for centuries and breeds were developed through selective breeding in the 17th century. Not all were black and white, some were Dun (brown) and white Belties. The shaggy coat and face give the Belted Galloway a “teddy bear” appearance. Originally they were a family cow, used for both meat and milk. In the past, drovers always liked to have a ‘Beltie’ in front so they could see where the cattle were heading in the dark. Nowadays, a few discerning chefs and farmers are keeping the breed going.

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Territory

StateUnited Kingdom
Region

Scottish Lowlands

Other info

Categories

Breeds and animal husbandry

Nominated by:Wendy Barrie & Bosse Dahlgren
Arca del GustoThe traditional products, local breeds, and know-how collected by the Ark of Taste belong to the communities that have preserved them over time. They have been shared and described here thanks to the efforts of the network that Slow Food has developed around the world, with the objective of preserving them and raising awareness. The text from these descriptions may be used, without modifications and citing the source, for non-commercial purposes in line with the Slow Food philosophy.