No-one is absolutely certain precisely where the 'Beltie' originated. The most popular belief is that it resulted from crossing the ancient Galloway with the Dutch Belted cow – the Lakenvelder, in the 17th and 18th centuries when trading links between Britain and the Low countries were at their most lucrative. The distinct and ancient Galloway cattle were in Scotland long before that and originated in the old counties of Kirkcudbright and Wigtown area of south west Scotland. While black was the favoured colour, they could also appear as brindle, red, dun, white, brocket faced and eventually as white middled or 'belted.'
The breed's spectacular appearance coupled with its renowned hardiness proved an impressive combination. It quickly began to flourish in the UK. The Belted Galloway is currently experiencing an upsurge in popularity and it's no wonder. One of the most visually distinctive breeds of cattle, its many merits lie not only in its unique appearance and good nature, but also in its hardiness and top quality beef. Originating in the harsh upland climate of the Galloway hills in beautiful south west Scotland, the Beltie is well-equipped to thrive outdoors in any climate. This remarkable animal is slow to mature, which means its beef has a special flavour and texture which is the envy of many other breeds. The cows live far longer than other cattle often well into their twenties, producing more calves and reducing replacement costs.
A small herd of pedigree black Belted Galloway cattle (4 cows with 4 calves, 4 heifers in calf, 2 bulling heifers) arrived at our farm in the summer 2004. It was a significant event in the history of the farm. The aim was to achieve a more sustainable rush management regime using cattle that can cope with coarse vegetation and wet conditions, removing the need for regular cutting. As well as the nature conservation benefits, the Belted Galloways also contribute to the conservation of this rare breed and produce high quality beef.
By the spring of 2010 the Galloways had increased to the point where a reduction was looking necessary (there are maximum stock levels allowed on the farm due to its SSSI status and stipulations from the landlord). We had our first major sale - 19 animals in total, all going to the startup of a new Galloway herd in Cheshire. This left our current herd numbers at 20 cows and followers consisting of 5 young heifers, 14 bulls, 6 new calves and 2 stock bulls.
Our Belties are creating lots of interest not just in the local community but also with anyone passing through the area and seeing them grazing the moorland.
See more photographs in the "Galleries" section.
Big Fernyford Farm, Reapsmoor, Longnor, Buxton, Derbyshire, SK17 0NA
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