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The Belted Galloway is a traditional Scottish breed of beef cattle. It derives from the Galloway cattle of the Galloway region of south-western Scotland. It is 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 which distinguishes the breed from the native black Galloway cattle – is often surmised to be the result of cross-breeding with the similarly-coloured Dutch Lakenvelder breed.

Belted Galloway
A belted galloway with a large white stripe down the middle of the cattle.
A Belted Galloway in pasture
Conservation statusWatched
  • Beltie
  • Oreo Cow[1]
  • Panda Cow
Country of originScotland
  • Male: 770-850 kg
  • Female: 450-675 kg
CoatBlack with large white stripe around middle
Horn statusPolled

Belted Galloways are primarily raised for their quality marbled beef, although they are sometimes milked or kept for ornament.


Breed historyEdit

The origin of the white belt is unknown, but generally presumed to have come from cross-breeding with Dutch Lakenvelder cattle.[2] 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.[3][4]

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."[5]


Several Belted Galloways

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.[6] 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.[7]

The dun colour is caused by a mutation in the PMEL gene, the same mutation that causes dun and silver dun in Highland cattle.[8] 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.[9] Belted Galloways are generally of a quiet temperament, but still maintain a maternal instinct and protect calves against perceived threats.[6][10]

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.[4]


The Belted Galloway is listed by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy as a "recovering" breed ,[11] 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.[12] About 18,390 cattle were registered in the US in 2015.[13]

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.[14]



  1. ^ Dun is a light brown colour caused by the dun gene


  1. ^ Belted Galloways: The "Oreo-Cookie" Cow
  2. ^ Oklahoma State University breed profile
  3. ^ "Belted Galloway Society - History". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Belted Galloway Cattle". The Cattle Site. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  5. ^ "History and Attributes of Belted Galloway Cattle". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  6. ^ a b "Rare Breeds Survival Trust — Belted Galloway". Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived from the original on 27 December 2016. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Belted Galloway Society - Registration Criteria". Belted Galloway Society. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  8. ^ Schmutz, S. M. and Dreger, D. L. 2013. Interaction of MC1R and SILV alleles on solid coat colors in Highland Cattle. Animal Genetics 44:9-13.
  9. ^ "Belted Galloway Breed Information". Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  10. ^ "Britannic Rare Breeds — Belted Galloway". Archived from the original on 12 September 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  11. ^ "American Livestock Conservancy — Belted Galloway". Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  12. ^ "Livestock Conservancy - Parameters for Classification". Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Belted Galloway Society - Newsletter" (PDF). April 2015. p. 4. Retrieved 25 August 2015.
  14. ^ "That is Farming - Belted Galloway Facts". Retrieved 25 August 2015.