The Belted Galloway (colloquially known as an "Oreo Cow") is a heritage breed of beef cattle originating from Galloway cattle that originated from Galloway on the west side of southern Scotland. They are adapted to living on the poor upland pastures and windswept moorlands of the region. The exact origin of the breed is unclear, although the white belt for which they are named and that distinguishes the breed from the native black Galloway cattle is often surmised to be the result of cross breeding with Dutch Lakenvelder belted cattle.
A Belted Galloway in pasture
|Country of origin||Scotland|
The origin of the white belt is unknown, but generally presumed to have come from cross breeding with Lakenvelder (Dutch Belted) cattle. A Polled Herd Book was started in 1852 which registered both Aberdeen-Angus and Galloways. Galloway breeders acquired their own herd book in 1878. The Dun[note 1] and Belted Galloway Association was formed in Scotland in 1921, and in 1951, the name of the organisation was changed to the Belted Galloway Society and dun cattle were no longer registered. It also keeps and records pedigrees for Belted Galloways and oversees the registration of White and Red Galloways.
Currently in the UK, a thriving breeding programme is overseen and guided by the Belted Galloway Cattle Society. Belted Galloways were first brought to the United States by Mrs. McLean of East Kortright, New York. The "American Belted Galloway Breeders Society" was formed in the United States on 1 July 1951 by Harry A. Prock of Whitemarsh, Pennsylvania, Gordon Green of Quebec, Canada, and Charles C. Wells of East Lansing, Michigan. It is now known as "The US Belted Galloway Society Inc."
Galloway cattle are naturally polled (without horns). The most visible characteristics are its long hair coat and the broad white belt that completely encircles its body, which gives the nickname of Oreo, after the cookie. Its coarse outer coat helps shed the rain, and its soft undercoat provides insulation and waterproofing, enabling the breed to spend winter outside. Black Belteds are the most prominent, but Dun and Red Belteds are also recognised by breed societies, the latter being comparatively rare and sought after. A female Belted Galloway cannot be registered in the Herd Book if it has white above the dewclaw other than the belt, but can be registered in the Appendix. A bull can only be registered in the Herd Book if it has no other white than the belt.
The dun colour is caused by a mutation in the PMEL gene, the same mutation that causes dun and silver dun in Highland cattle. The black and red coat colours are caused by the same alleles of the MC1R gene, ED for black and e/e for red, as in most other breeds of cattle.
Bulls weigh from 1,700 to 2,300 pounds (770 to 1,040 kg), with the average being around 1,800 pounds (820 kg). Cows weigh from 1,000 to 1,500 pounds (450 to 680 kg), with the average being around 1,250 pounds (570 kg). Calves generally weigh around 70 pounds (32 kg) at birth. Belted Galloways are generally of a quiet temperament, but still maintain a maternal instinct and protect calves against perceived threats.
They are well-suited for rough grazing land and will use coarse grasses other breeds would shun. They are able to maintain a good condition on less than ideal pasture, and produce high-quality beef on grass alone.
The Belted Galloway is listed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy as a "recovering" breed , which means there are more than 2,500 annual registrations in the United States and a global population greater than 10,000, but they were once on the "watch" list. About 18,390 cattle were registered in the US in 2015.
In the UK in 2007, they were formally removed from the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's watch list, having recovered sufficiently from the devastation of the foot and mouth crisis of the early 2000s, to have exceeded 1500 registered breeding females.
- Belted Galloways: The "Oreo-Cookie" Cow
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Belted Galloway.|
- Southwest Belted Galloway Association
- Belted Galloway Cow Video - Gwynnbrook Farm
- Belted Galloway Society of the United States of America
- Australian Belted Galloway Association
- Galloway Cattle & Beef Marketing Association (Australia)
- Galloway Cattle Society of New Zealand
- Canadian Galloway Association
- Coat Colours of the Belted Galloway