The Galloway is naturally hornless, and instead of horns has a bone knob at the top of its skull called the poll. This breed's shaggy coat has both a thick, woolly undercoat for warmth and stiffer guard hairs that help shed water, making them well adapted to harsher climates.
The Galloway breed comes from the cattle native to an entire region of Scotland, and originally there was much variation within this breed, including many different colours and patterns. The original Galloway herdbook only registered black cattle, but the recessive gene for red colour persisted in the population, and eventually dun Galloways were also allowed into the herdbook. As a result, although black is still the most common colour for Galloways, they can also be red and several shades of dun.
There are several varieties of the Galloway maintained as consistent strains or breeds.
- The Belted Galloway features a wide white stripe around its midriff, and is often affectionately referred to as a ‘Beltie’. It was created by crossing Galloways with Belted Dutch cattle, a dairy breed. Belted Galloways are often smaller than Galloways, and often have more of a dairy or aesthetic focus than Galloways.
- The White Galloway is mostly white, with dark points: ears, feet, and around the eyes. They may also have colour on their poll, tail, or udder. The genetics for this colour pattern were introduced from an unknown source, and has happened at least three times - once each in Britain, the USA, and Canada.
- The Riggit Galloway has a colour-sided or finch-backed (riggit) pattern, with a white stripe along the line of the back.
Galloways have a thick double-layered coat that is wavy or curly. This thick coat of hair insulates their bodies so well that they have a minimal outer layer of fat on their bodies, which would otherwise create waste at slaughter.[full citation needed] This coat sheds out in the summer months and in warmer climates. A 1997 study by the U.S. Belted Galloway Society looked at the weights and sizes of a sample of Belted Galloways in all regions of the United States, finding mature bulls to weigh 730–860 kilograms (1,600–1,900 lb), mature cows 410–570 kilograms (900–1,250 lb), and calf birth weight to be about 33 kilograms (72 lb).
- Trow-Smith, Robert (1959), A History of British Livestock Husbandry 1700–1900, Routledge and Kegan Paul, pp 112–113.
- Riggit Galloway Society
- "Bison: the Amazing Animal, section Saved from Extinction". Kansas State Historical Society. Retrieved September 4, 2010.
- Oklahoma State University page on the Galloway
- U.S. Belted Galloway Society: Breed Surveys & Data
- Galloway Cattle Society of New Zealand
- American Galloway Breeders Association
- The Galloway Cattle Society of Great Britain and Ireland
- Australian Galloway Association
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