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Annual Beltie Magazines
The Belted Galloway Society has produced full-color, 36- to 44-page magazines annually since 2004. An extracts from one of the publications is accessible below. Obtain copies of the most recent printed edition by sending a request with your snail mail address to the Executive Director at Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The udder end of the cow
When starting a Beltie herd from scratch you're likely to receive lots of advice on bull selection. And rightly so! since the bull's influence will affect all of your calves.
But careful consideration to selection of your foundation cows is just as important. Bulls will come and go, but your cows will probably be with you for quite a long while. Good cows wisely chosen can present you with a dozen or more calves, as Belted Galloways are a long-lived breed. It is not unusual for 16- and 18-year-olds to deliver healthy calves.
So, what shall you look for?
The breeding age heifer or cow will usually weigh between 800 and 1200 lbs., with a hip height of 44 to 54 inches. Her length from shoulder to tailhead will probably exceed her height by an inch or two.
Look for the well-balanced female with a deep barrel, but with a "feminine" appearance – that is, a clean jowl and brisket area and a smooth topline.
White should not appear anywhere other than the belt, except females are permitted to have "minor white below the dewclaws."
One of the easiest things to check is milk production. Don't expect the lactating Belted Galloway to exhibit the huge, pendulous udder evident in dairy breeds. The Beltie's udder should be neatly tucked up under her flank, with a smooth transition from belly to udder. The teats should be uniform in size and placement.
If your prospective purchase has had one or more calves look into their rates of gain, preferably 2 lbs. per day, more or less, from birth until weaning. If your prospect is a first-calf heifer you won't notice much if any udder development until just before she delivers, but you can check into her dam's record, as milking ability is a highly heritable trait.
If she has had calves, ask about her mothering skills. Or, if she's a heifer, check into her dam's maternal traits. Look for the cow that protects and nurtures her calf. The dam that has rejected a calf is a poor bet for future mothering.
You'll want your cow to stand square on good legs. Flaws such as cow hocks and sickle hocks should be avoided. She's going to be carrying quite a bit of weight around during her producing years, so good underpinning is a must. Observe the heifer's pelvic width to be sure it's adequate for passage of her calves.
Familiarize yourself with the Belted Galloway Society's registration procedures and carefully check the cow's papers before making your purchase.
The registration number on a purebred's certificate will have 4 or 5 digits followed by B, D or R to signify Black, Dun or Red.
If the female was upbred from the Appendix, characters such as BGXX will follow the color code to signify that four generations back the base cow was unregistered. If the female has white on a foot, a W will be appended.
Hence, 00000B indicates a black purebred, and 00000D,BGCH,W is a dun female with white on a foot and a Charolais ancestor four generations back.
The Appendix animal's number will begin with an A and will indicate the percentage of Belted Galloway blood as well as identification of mismarking, if any. The Appendix female is usually priced at approximately 2/3 the value of a comparable purebred.
Before you make your first purchase obtain the Guide to Selection pamphlets from the Society's Executive Director, then visit as many herds as you can. Study up! Ask questions! The effort will pay off if you find you still like your first purchases five years later.
Cows for all seasons!
[Winter photo courtesy of John Fisher, IA;
Summer photo from Kathi Jurkowski, IL..]