Galloway Cattle

What Makes a Galloway a Galloway

Galloways are recognized as one of the oldest beef breeds, originally from the Scottish highlands and imported to North America starting in the last half of the 19th century.  Galloways, being a classic British breed of cattle, are historically a smaller framed breed and birth smaller calves.  Mature cows generally weigh from 950 – 1,250 lbs and give birth to calves with an average birth weight of 70-80 lbs.  Mature bulls range in weight from 1,700 to 2,100 lbs, with an average weight being 1,800.

They are most recognizable by their heavy double layer winter hair coat.  The outer coat is course and primarily used to shed wind and rain while protecting the insulating properties of the inner layer (kind of like a Gore-Tex Jacket.)  The inner coat is more of an insulating wooly type of hair that stays dry keeps the animal warm in all weather conditions.

Galloways are known for being very docile and easy to handle.  William Youatt, an English vet and researcher, has been quoted as saying “Galloway cattle are generally very docile…This is a most valuable point about them in every respect. It is rare to find even a bull furious or troublesome.”  This does not mean they will not protect the herd from perceived threats.  Galloways are very courageous and if annoyed by dogs or wild animals, they will act in concert, by forming a crescent and jointly attacking.

Why Galloways Make Good Beef

The Galloway, unrivaled as a grazing breed, utilizes coarse grasses and browse frequently shunned by other breeds. Furthermore, their ability to produce a high quality beef product directly from grass, has true economic value in that it is not necessary to feed grains to ‘finish’ them. A properly grass fattened Galloway steer can produce the ideal 600-750 pound carcass.

The Galloway is a maternal breed. The cows are easy calvers, while the calves themselves are hardy, vigorous and have a ‘will to live’ that gets them up and nursing quickly. The Galloway is long-lived, with many cows producing regularly into their teens and beyond. This trait alone can determine much of the economics and efficiency of any cattle operation.

Due to the breed’s naturally dense, insulating hair coat the Galloway does not layer on excessive outside fat, which would only end up on the butcher’s floor at slaughter time. Results of a multi-breed research project conducted by a Canadian Government Experiment Station, reveal that the Galloway ranks second only to the Buffalo in hair density tests. The robust, hardy nature of the Galloway has never been disputed. Though considered a breed for northern climates, the Galloway has been found to acclimate amazingly well to warmer regions.

The claim that Galloway beef is juicy, tender, and flavorful has been substantiated in recent USDA tests of Galloway bloodlines, when compared with eleven other breeds. Results of the Cycle IV Germ Plasm Evaluation (GPE) Program at the USDA Meat Animal Research Center (MARC), Clay Center, Nebraska, showed the Galloway bloodlines placing at the top of the chart for flavor, juiciness and tenderness.

The American Galloway Breeders’ Association attuned to industry needs, offers an Appendix Registry system in addition to and kept separately from their purebred registry program. Additionally, the AGBA sponsors a National Show and Sale, hold annually in conjunction with their Convention, the third week of October, in Billings, Montana. Additionally, the AGBA arranges for ultrasound measurements for carcass traits, as well as measurements for frame size, pelvic capacity and scrotal circumference.

Galloway Related Articles

Having a Cow About Steak Quality: Mass output and U.S. rules have diminished flavor; what aficionados should demand
By MARK SCHATZKER, Published in the Wall Street Journal

The Galloway – Labor Saving and Efficient
Published in the Cascade Cattleman, Nov/Dec 2010

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