Belted Galloways: Rugged but gentle |

Belted Galloways: Rugged but gentle

Courtesy photoThis Belted Galloway cow is in her everyday clothes, enjoying the sunshine on a cold winter day.

The Belted Galloway come in an array of stunning colors like black, red or dun, with a white band around the middle, giving them the appearance of a fluffy, cream filled cookie. Their long, luxurious hair protects them from the elements, while the color sets them apart from their more conservatively dressed Galloway cousins.

The breed originated in Scotland, where the harsh climate of cold, wind and humidity developed the cattle into the hearty breed seen today. Area Beltie breeder, Gayle Cerullo of Newell, SD, was introduced to the breed on a trip to Scotland.

“I met Lady Flora Stewart on that trip, and just fell in love with the belteds that she had,” says Cerullo.

Cerullo has had Galloways for about 14 years, though she and her former husband had Highlanders before that. “The horns on the Highlanders were a bit much for me, so he got me some Galloways. They were a lot better for me to handle,” laughs Cerullo.

She has served on the board of the American Galloway Breeders Association for six years, four years on the Belted Galloway Society board, and has been showing for about seven years. She started showing at the county fair level to get some experience, but has since gotten more involved and this year competed at the big shows, such as the North American International Livestock Exposition (N.A.I.L.E.) in Louisville, KY, Agribition at the Canadian Western, Regina, Saskatchewan, and Northern International Livestock Exposition (N.I.L.E.), Billings, MT, and the Denver Stock Show.

Success has been found at the shows, as Cerullo’s cow/calf pair, Olivia and bull calf, Julius, won third in class, plus Julius won second in the Bull Calf class, at Louisville. At Agribition in Canada, Olivia won second as Senior Female, Senior Female Reserve Champion Pair, and Julius won first in Bull Calf and third place Bull overall. The N.I.L.E. show garnered Grand Champion Female and Grand Champion Bull honors. At Denver this past week, Julius won the Belted Bull Calf class and placed third overall in the Galloway Bull Calf Championship.

“I really like the showing. It’s given me an opportunity to meet so many really nice people,” says Cerullo. “Also, I’ve gotten to work with the kids that show the Galloways as well.”

The showing and being involved with the Galloway breed even lead to her move to South Dakota. She’s lived mostly in Washington state’s Whidbey Island area, then a life change, brought about by circumstances beyond her control, left her needing to find a place to go that would accommodate her livestock.

“Another Galloway breeder, who I had known through the association for many years, invited me to come and stay so I could keep my cattle and other stock,” Cerullo explains, adding with a grin, “So I packed up my three favorite cows and a calf, six sheep, my horse and dog, and moved. The dog and pony show came to South Dakota!”

The climate is much colder and windier compared to the more temperate western Washington she is used to, but she is adapting. The cows don’t seem to notice the weather much, but the hair sheep, horse and the dog have shivered a bit more, according to Gayle.

When asked what she liked best about the Belted Galloway, she said that they are even tempered, good mothers, and tough. She also cited their feed efficiency, easy calving, and longevity. The cows will produce well into their teens and even past 20 when taken care of. The bulls are sound and fertile past 10 years in many cases.

“My bull calf Julius’ grand-dam is still in production, and his sire is still breeding at nine years old,” says Cerullo.

The Belted Galloway is not a common breed and hard to come by. Gayle bought her first Belties at a sale in Maine and has since added some from other states and Canada.

“I probably won’t add any to my little bunch now, and more than likely will sell some and keep just what I want to show,” says Cerullo. “I’ve sold Julius but am going to show him a little more, then collect semen from him before he goes to his new home.”

Cerullo says that Olivia, the cow she is currently showing, is the culmination of 15 years of breeding and the ideal that she is striving for. Because of that, she is planning to have her flushed and the embryos implanted into recipient cows in May and June. She currently doesn’t own a bull due to space constraints, and will A. I. her and the other cows. She explains, “I know they do a lot better natural cover, but this lets me bring genetics in from Scotland and here in the U.S. that otherwise wouldn’t be available to me. That also allows me to continue showing.”

Feed efficiency being one of the important attributes of the breed has led to there being specific classes at shows for grass fed cattle. The show calf, Julius, has been run on grass with no grain, being supplemented with beet pulp, alfalfa pellets and cubes, and grass hay. Julius is second generation grass fed beef.

Cerullo explains further, “The Belted Galloway Society has been doing a lot of genetic testing comparing grass/organic to grain fed animals. They’re finding out that the Galloway are lower in triglycerides and higher in Omega 3 fatty acids if they are grass fed, making them a very healthy beef.” She continues, “USDA has tested as well, and have found that the Galloway is lower in the harmful fats than the average beef, and are also high in the gene for tenderness on the Igenity rating system.”

The Belted Galloways stand out for more reasons than just their color, and Gayle Cerullo will continue raising, showing, promoting and loving them, because she really believes in the breed and wants others to know just how wonderful they are.

So if you see some long haired black cows with white belly bands, standing out in the cold and wind, apparently unaffected by either, you just might be looking at Gayle’s Belties. It sure might do to take a closer look, as these tough cattle will thrive in the harshest climate and wean a fat calf with little help from anyone, just like they’ve done for centuries.

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