Black cattle with a distinctive white belt, the “Beltie” hails from beautiful South West Scotland where they are perfectly suited to the harsh upland climate of the Galloway hills turning a variety of rough hill pasture and herbs into the finest quality beef.
The breed’s spectacular appearance coupled, its renowned hardiness and fine eating quality of the beef, proved an impressive combination so that it quickly began to flourish in the UK in the 17th and 18th century, with many prominent families taking a long term interest in its development.
Our Belted Galloway Beef is born, bred and reared by Jon Watson at Yew Tree Farm, Cumbria where they freely roam the Lakeland Fells around “The Old Man of Coniston”.
Yew Tree farm once the home of Beatrix Potter experiences extremes of temperature throughout the year, but Jon explains that the Beltie is well-equipped to thrive outdoors in any climate.
They are a hardy breed with a double layer of hair. The long coarse outer layer of hair is for unbeatable protection from rain and wind. The underneath thick soft insulating layer of hair doesn’t get wet, so is therefore good for energy efficiency.
Their double coat of hair means they don’t require the backfat most other breeds require. Their meat is therefore leaner than many native breeds but equally succulent.
In the summer Jon’s Beltie’s can stay cool in many of the Lakeland tarns, and their tough skin acts as a barrier to biting insects.
‘Belties’ are small and sturdy and have remarkable foraging abilities, negotiating even the most inaccessible areas to find food. They graze differently to sheep and therefore are superb for managing certain habitats with sensitive plant species – they are an important part of conservation and improving biodiversity.
At Yew Tree Farm Jon tells us that he “is using his Belted Galloways to manage areas of Heath that has been smothered by bracken. The cows will help break up the thick leaf litter, trample the bracken and allow the heather plants to re-establish. Heather moorland is a diverse habitat supporting a wide range of important species.”
As with many Heritage breeds who are reared naturally, Jon’s Belted Galloway cows live far longer than intensively reared cattle, often well into their teens and twenties happily producing calves throughout. This demonstrates how healthy naturally and traditionally reared livestock clearly are.
The Belted Galloway is currently experiencing an upsurge in popularity and with good reason. This remarkable animal is slow to mature, with an ability to thrive particularly well on grass and preserved grass.
Jon’s Beltie’s graze on fell pastures of wild grasses, herbs and plants and home-grown hay in the winter, giving his Belted Galloway beef a special flavour and texture.
Lakeland’s Michelin Starred Chef Simon Rogan has described Jon’s Belted Galloway beef from Yew Tree Farm as “a real find for his restaurants… amazing flavours that just can’t be beaten.”
The Belted Galloway takes longer to mature than commercial breeds and has a smaller frame. Due to its mixed diet and long life the meat is not only beautifully marbled for the very best rich flavour and texture but is high in beneficial Omega 3 fat.
The Belted Galloway Breed Society reports on research which has been carried out in the last decade by scientists who have proved that important fatty acids are present in grass fed meat, and their many benefits in protecting against modern illnesses.
You can buy our Belted Galloway Beef here: