There have been many myths produced over the years about the family of breeds we call Galloway. It is universally accepted that there are three main Galloway types; the Galloway, a solid colour polled animal that may be black, red or dun including silver, the polled Belted Galloway having a distinctive white belt while the rest of the animal may be black, red or dun including silver, and the White Galloway, a mainly white animal with points of black, red, dun including silver and some variations on these colours. The other “breed” that could be considered is the Miniature Galloway which can have all of the above colours and colour patterns but has a restricted height range mandated.
There is universal agreement that the Galloway is an ancient breed native to the Galloway district of South West Scotland, known since the 1600’s. It is one of the oldest beef breeds known. They are solid colour, hardy, polled and long haired and have always been a beef breed not used as draught animals or milkers. Their superb meat has been recorded over hundreds of years. Some say it most probably traces its origin back to the cattle the Norsemen bought in when they invaded the coastal districts of Scotland.
Galloways were first registered, with the Aberdeen Angus, in the Polled Herd-Book from 1862- 1877 when a separate Herd-Book was established. Today the home of the Galloways is in Castle Douglas, where the Galloway Cattle Society is. Galloways were first imported into New Zealand in 1947 from Scotland. They were very popular for some time, but today there are only a few herds in New Zealand.
Likewise, there is agreement that the Belted Galloway was developed in the 16-1700s in the Galloway district from Galloway cattle and an unidentified outside belted source that predated available records. It is generally thought that that unknown source is the Dutch Lakenvelder which gave the Belted Galloway the belted colour pattern and its milking characteristics. The milking characteristic was used for centuries in Scottish dairies. In addition to selection for different production characteristics, the Belted Galloway has always been subjected to a degree of selection pressure for the aesthetics of its colour pattern. Strong selection for an aesthetic characteristic can be detrimental to other characteristics such as carcase quality. Any genetic exchange between Galloways and Belted Galloways has been one way for a very long time, well over two hundred years. That Belted Galloway breeders have used Galloway genetics in the pedigree Belted Galloway population is a matter of record. However, Galloway breeders have not used Belted Galloway genetics and there is no record of Belted Galloway in the pedigree Galloway population. The Galloway has been distinct from the Belted Galloway for a longer period of time than the total breed history of many other livestock types. Virtually all Registries maintain Belted Galloways within a separate section of their Herd Book.
White Galloways are a recent addition to the Galloway family. They are an attractive and beneficial cousin but they do contain genetics that are not Galloway and they have little recorded history. All the White Galloways in New Zealand, Australia, the USA and virtually all in Canada trace to Montana, USA not Galloway, Scotland. The population could have started as early as 1912. The Bishir family’s oral tradition is that a ‘white park’ colour patterned female was purchased and bred to a black Galloway, her white park colour patterned, polled, long haired Galloway cross descendants were kept. No records or ancestry documentation were kept until after Jim Airth, Walking A Ranches, purchased a long haired, polled, white park patterned female in 1966 from the Bishir’s son-in-law. White Gallo- ways were first registered in USA in 1970, UK 1981, Canada 1990 and with the NZ Galloway Cattle society in 1994.