Belted Galloway

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Belted Galloway
a black cow with a broad white stripe round its middle
Bull close to Bishopstone, near Salisbury
Conservation status
Other names
  • Beltie
  • Sheeted Galloway
  • White-middled Galloway
Country of originScotland
  • Male:
    750–1000 kg[4]: 129 
  • Female:
    450–600 kg[4]: 129 
Coatblack with broad white stripe around middle
Horn statuspolled
Cow in Belgium
Bull in Denmark

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, and was established as a separate breed in 1921. 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 black Galloway cattle, is often surmised to be the result of cross-breeding with the similarly-coloured Dutch Lakenvelder breed.

The cattle are reared principally for beef; they may also be kept for ornament or for conservation grazing or vegetation management.


The Belted Galloway derives from the traditional Galloway cattle of the Galloway region of south-western Scotland, which in turn form part of a broader group of traditional Scottish cattle including the Aberdeen Angus and Highland breeds.[4]: 129  Galloways are most often black, but other colours occur; the white-belted or white-middled Galloway was one of them. The origin of the white belt is unknown; it is thought to have resulted from some cross-breeding with Dutch Lakenvelder cattle in the seventeenth century.[4]: 129 

From 1852, both Aberdeen Angus and Galloways could be registered in a herd-book for polled cattle. A separate Galloway herd-book was established in 1878. In 1921 a group of breeders set up the Dun and Belted Galloway Association, which – as the name suggests – registered both belted and dun-coloured Galloway cattle; its first herd-book was published in 1922. In 1951 registration of non-belted dun cattle was discontinued, and the society changed its name to the Belted Galloway Society.[4]: 129  It also maintains herd-books for the Red Galloway and the White Galloway.[4]: 129 

In the twentieth century the Belted Galloway was exported to many countries including Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States. Breed societies were started in New Zealand in 1948, in the USA in 1951, and in Australia in 1975.[4]: 129 

Like other breeds, the Belted Galloway suffered heavily during the epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease in the British Isles in 2001, and a substantial part of the total population was lost. By 2007, numbers had recovered to the point where it could be removed from the endangered native breed watchlist of the Rare Breeds Survival Trust;[4]: 129  in the same year the global breed population was listed by the FAO as "not at risk".[1]: 143  In 2012, there were approximately 3500 registered breeding cows in the United Kingdom.[4]: 129 

In 2022 it was listed by the American Livestock Conservancy as "watch";[3] in 2015 the total number in the United States was reported to be 1468.[5]


The cattle are always belted, with a broad white belt completely encircling the body between the shoulder and the hind legs. For bulls, no white is permitted anywhere else on the animal; cows with some limited white markings on the lower legs can be registered in an appendix of the herd-book. The rest of the coat is normally black, but can also be dun or – more rarely – red.[4]: 129  The dun colour is caused by a mutation in the PMEL gene, the same mutation that causes dun and silver dun in Highland cattle.[6]: 9  The coat is double: a long coarse outer coat gives protection from rain, and a fine soft undercoat keeps the animal warm; the cattle do not need to develop thick subcutaneous fat for warmth in winter, and the meat tends to leanness as a result.[7]

Body weights may depend on both on climatic conditions and on the type of forage available. They are usually in the range 450–600 kg for cows, and 750–1000 kg for bulls.[4]: 129  Belted Galloways are generally of a quiet temperament, but cows have a strong maternal instinct and protect calves against perceived threats.[7] At least one person has been trampled by a herd of these cattle.[8]

The Belted Galloway is well adapted to harsh climatic conditions, hill terrain and rough grazing on coarse grasses;[4]: 129  it is normal for the cattle to be kept out throughout the winter, regardless of the weather.[7]


The Belted Galloway is reared mainly for beef; it may also be used for vegetation management, otherwise known as conservation grazing.[9]: 35  Cattle reared on forage alone may take up to four years to be ready for slaughter; beef from such cattle may have higher-than-usual levels of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids.[4]: 129 

An old strain is listed as the "Original Belted Galloway Cattle" in the Ark of Taste of the Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity.[10]


  1. ^ a b Barbara Rischkowsky, Dafydd Pilling (editors) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Archived 23 June 2020.
  2. ^ Cattle watchlist. Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived 3 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b Belted Galloway Cattle. The Livestock Conservancy. Archived 28 November 2022.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
  5. ^ Breed data sheet: Belted Galloway / United States of America (Cattle). Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed February 2023.
  6. ^ Sheila M. Schmutz, Dayna L. Dreger (2013). Interaction of MC1R and SILV alleles on solid coat colors in Highland Cattle. Animal Genetics. 44 (1): 9–13. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2052.2012.02361.x.
  7. ^ a b c Belted Galloway. Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived 27 December 2016.
  8. ^ [s.n.] (20 September 2019). Woman trampled to death by cattle at Linchmere Common, inquest hears. BBC News. Accessed February 2023.
  9. ^ Marleen Felius (1995). Cattle Breeds: An Encyclopedia. Doetinchem, Netherlands: Misset. ISBN 9789054390176.
  10. ^ Original Belted Galloway Cattle. Bra, Cuneo: Fondazione Slow Food per la Biodiversità Onlus/Slow Food Foundation for Biodiversity. Accessed May 2019.