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Saturday 23 September 2017

Belted Galloway society to establish Irish branch

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

Enthusiastic breeders of the eye-catching Belted Galloway cattle are to set up an Irish base for the Belted Galloway Cattle Society to promote the breed in this country.

The distinctively marked black and white cattle are believed to be the result of a cross between the ancient Scottish Galloway breed and a Dutch Belted cow, the Lakenvelder, in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Originating in the harsh upland climate of the Galloway hills in southwest Scotland, the "Beltie" is well equipped to thrive outdoors in any climate. The beef from this slow-maturing breed has a special flavour due its diet of upland grasses. The cows also live longer than other breeds, with cows producing calves often well into their twenties, reducing replacement costs.

When cattle were driven from their native Galloway and Dumfries to Norfolk Fairs, drovers always liked to have a Beltie in the bunch, so that in the dusk they could pick out which way the cattle were heading.

Here in Ireland there are approximately 15 registered breeders of Belted Galloways, with herds located all across the country from Antrim to Kerry and from the Burren to Wicklow.

One of the most notable herds is that of Lady Chryss O'Reilly, located at Castlemartin Stud in Co Kildare.

First founded in 1992 when Lady O'Reilly introduced four Belted Galloway heifers from her stud in France, the herd has since grown to 20 breeding females and two stock bulls -- Castlemartin Ben and Barwise Moghul.

Castlemartin farm manager Des Dunne was elected on to the council for the Belted Galloway Cattle Society two years ago.

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Mr Dunne and fellow Belted Galloway enthusiast Dessie Henry hosted a successful information day for cattle breeders at Castlemartin Stud on Saturday. Over 60 suckler farmers gathered to hear from the Belted Galloway Cattle Society chairperson Liz Wilkinson and Joe Condren from Omega Beef Direct and Organics With Altitude.

The day was a success, helping to showcase the Belted Galloway breed to suckler producers, promote the advantages of the upland breed on marginal land and create an Irish Belted Galloway club.

For more information on the Belted Galloway breed and how to get involved in the Irish club, go to www.beltedgalloways.co.uk or contact Des Dunne on 087 264 7594

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