Skip to content

Galloway Beef

Sourced from Greg Stuart’s Presentation to the 2007 NZ Galloway Conference

Galloway beef consistently achieves more desirable results in carcass quality determinants such as fat depth, meat colour and pH assuring a tastier and tenderer product.

The Galloway family of cattle, Solids, Belteds and Whites, is a minority breed family in New Zealand. The solid colour Galloway is one of the oldest British beef breeds or even world breeds. Their evolution makes them unique in that Galloways and their successor breeds have a double hair coat, a long hair outer coat and a soft, mohair like inner coat. The only other animal with a similar coat and incidentally similar meat is the bison however there is no genetic relationship. The relationship is in the environment they evolved in.

That coat and that Scottish environment became the basis for other unique changes that express themselves in Galloway meat. Fat serves two major purposes in most animals; it provides insulation and it provides an energy reserve for hard times, for calving or for a bull ranging for cows. The Galloway evolved some of its insulation on the outside, its coat, so less external fat is required for insulation on the inside, that is, less external white fat. However the need for energy reserves still requires to be fulfilled, that requirement is fulfilled by putting marbling into the meat and by having “black” fat within the meat. These fats have a very different chemical composition to external white fat; they contain far less saturated fats.

The Galloway’s evolution didn’t stop there. Again their environment was one of alpine type low protein foraging including mosses and lichen, woody stems and coarse grasses. They adapted to the naturally low protein environment and by a lucky for us combination produced high quality meat from poor quality feed. It is important to note that Galloways have always been meat producing animals - never draft animals requiring higher levels of nutrition, producing coarser textured meat.

The Galloway characteristics allow us to produce high quality meat with minimal supplementation and without “grazing out” the better species of grasses.
US Department of Agriculture, USDA, testing found Galloways had the lowest incidence of calving difficulties of any US breed and the highest weaning percentage.  It was also found that a 25mm thicker coat such as a Galloways reduces an animal’s winter feed requirements by 20-25%.

Further research by the USDA showed that of the six British breeds raised in the US, the Galloway was:

  • first (lowest) in fat thickness
  • first (lowest) in kidney, pelvic and heart fat
  • first (highest) in percent retail product (69.7%)
  • first (lowest) in percent of fat trim
  • second in rib eye area
  • second in dressing percentage (61.2%)

New Zealand Government testing published in the New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research found Galloways, when they were represented in the trials, had the highest mean dressing out percentage and mean eye muscle area.

The USDA’s Meat Animal Research Centre at Clay Centre, Nebraska analysed the beef from 12 US raised breeds, it ranked Galloway 1st for flavour, 2nd for tenderness and 2nd for juiciness.

Another US trial undertaken by the US Government’s National Livestock and Meat Board in cooperation with Texas A&M University ranked Galloway 1st for flavour and 1st for juiciness, tenderness was still second.

Modern testing is confirming what the Romans found when they tried to conquer the Scottish Galloway area. They liked eating the plundered local cattle. More recently, in 1573 it was written “In Galloway are large oxen whose flesh is tender, sweet and juicy.” One form of testing that the Romans couldn’t do has been carried out at the Lipid Analytical Laboratories, University of Guelph, Canada. Galloway beef was compared with randomly selected commercial supermarket beef. The results found Galloway to be low in saturated fat as well as total fat average and indicated high ratios of Omega 6 to Omega 3 – the beneficial lineolic and linolenic acids. Galloway beef has been proven to be as healthy for the heart and brain as both chicken and fish. All beef in the study had been lot feed a high grain diet so the result is not confusing grass fed and grain fed beef.

Testing at the Mols Institute in Denmark found that Galloways were the least specific grazers of any breed of cattle. They ate all the available herbage evenly not just the lusher grasses or legumes.

In Australia the results are astounding.
- 2000 – National Steer Comp. – Champion Carcase - Pure Bred
- 2001 – Royal Sydney – Grand Champion Carcase
- 2002 – Royal Sydney – Taste Test Grand and Reserve Grand Champions
- 2003 – Royal Sydney – Taste Test Grand and Reserve Grand Champions
- Royal Melb. – Reserve Champion Carcase
- 2004 – Royal Sydney – Reserve Champion Carcase
- 2005 – Royal Sydney – Taste Test Class Winner (equal)
- 2006 – Royal Sydney – Middleweight Champion Carcase,
- 2007 – Royal Sydney - Lightweight Champion Carcase and Taste Test Class Winner, a Belted Galloway
No other breed can match these results.

These findings and results can now be reinforced by GeneSTAR testing undertaken by Genetic Solutions. Testing of both Galloway males and females is showing marbling up to 3 stars, bear in mind that Wagyu average at 4.2 stars, Tenderness between 6 and 8 stars and Feed Efficiency also between 6 and 8 stars, the current maximum star rating for each category is 8 stars. Each star represents a genetic marker that has been isolated as being associated with the characteristic. These are typical results from our Galloways. Galloway beef is in a very unusual situation. We have an independently proven product of exceptional quality.

Over time this Galloway Meat should be able to be marketed to gain a premium. However the breeder or finisher must remain vigilant that they are turning off well finished cattle as the Galloway’s hair can mask the visual signs of their finish. Turning off poorly finished cattle can quickly turn off the market. That turn off can take years to overcome should it occur.

People are becoming more health conscious. This is a major marketing advantage for the future.

Cattle that finish off grass will soon be a major positive in New Zealand. Ethanol will largely be produced from grain, grain will become much more expensive globally, feed lot costs will sky rocket swinging the feed equation back to grass finishing cattle, European cattle, in general, require high energy/grain diets to finish.

Being non-specific grazers reduces pasture replacement costs and reinforces the benefits of rotational grazing.