Probably one of the most visually distinctive native breeds that Scotland has to offer, the “beltie” as it is fondly known originates from the beutiful Galloway Hills in the South West of Scotland. This breed is believed to have originated in the 17th century when the Galloway may have been crossed with the Dutch Belted Cow when trade between the countries was lucrative. Easily identifiable by the complete white belts across the centre of the animal it was common folklore that the farmers used to get up early every morning to paint their bellies white so that they could see them at night. Belties are well regarded for producing top quality beef with a notable texture and flavour, owing to the fact that they are slow to mature. The breeding cows can live well into their twenties and produce several calves during their lifetime.
in the twentieth century the breed was exported to many countries all over the world such as Australia, France, Canada Brazil and the USA. In this countries the breed is mainly reared for beef; though it may also be used for vegetation management also known as conservation grazing. Consevation grazing is the use of livestock where the primary objective is to manage the site for wildlife, it can be grassland, woodland, wetland or scrub. Though why is the belted galloway used in conservation grazing when any other cattle can do it? Due to the hardy and thrifty nature of this native breed (much like many native breeds) they are the best types of animals for conservation grazing.
Much like other breeds, the Belted Galloway suffered a heavy toll on its population during the epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease in the British isles of 2001. This lead to a substantial part of the total population was lost. Though by 2007, the numbers of this breed had recovered to a point where it could be removed from the endangered native breed watch list of the Rare Breed Survival Trust.