Guidelines for Selecting


This selection guide is intended to assist cattle breeders and buyers in selecting quality Belted Galloways. Its use in competitive show situations is also encouraged as a guide for judges. This guide is not intended as a basis for registration, as the Belted Galloway Society already has well-established criteria for breed registration. Statistical information is provided as a benchmark only. Few, if any individual animals will match all the characteristics listed.

Visual Characteristics Coloration: Cattle can be black, red or dun in color. A complete belt should encircle the midsection of the body, between the front and rear legs. However, the shape of the belt should not be a factor in judging. It is preferred that no other white be visible, though females that exhibit white above the hooves, that does not extend above the dewclaws, can be registered in the Herd Book. Black coated cattle commonly exhibit a brownish tinge to the outer coat, which is acceptable. Skin and Hair Coat: Skin should be moderately thick. Hair coat should have two layers, a short undercoat covered by a long shaggy coat that protects the animal. Belted Galloways do not require large amounts of back fat for winter warmth, which results in relatively lower winter feed requirements. Hard, wiry hair with no undercoat is objectionable. Clipping and grooming hair for competitive shows is an acceptable practice. Size: Cattle should be moderate in size, with both excessive and diminished sizes being objectionable. Balance and conformation should be considered before mature weight. Head: The head should be broad with the poll low and flat (especially bulls). The nostrils should be wide and the eyes large and prominent. The ears should be moderate in length, broad and pointing forward and upward, with a fringe of long hair. The breed is polled, with no evidence of horn or scur development. Neck: The neck should be proportionate in length and well attached, fitting smoothly onto the shoulders. Mature bulls may develop some cresting, but this should not be excessive. Cresting is objectionable in cows. Cows are preferred to be free of excessive or loose skin under their throats and should be slender about their necks. Forequarters: The forequarters should exhibit meatiness across the forearm. Shoulders should be moderately sloped, refined and blend smoothly into the rest of the body. The brisket should be moderately well developed, but more so in bulls. The dewlap should be trim and nearly free of loose skin.

Body: The body should be long sided with a strong and straight top line and underline. The rib cage should be deep and well sprung, into a round chest, not compressed side to side. The rump should be level and the hindquarters should be well muscled. The tail head should blend smoothly into the rump. The animal should appear balanced and proportionally developed throughout. Hindquarters: The hindquarters should exhibit meatiness by having good length from hooks to pin bone, from the hook bone to hock and pin bone to stifle. Hindquarter muscling and width should carry well below the stifle.

What to Look for in a Desirable Female

Females: Should appear feminine, coarseness of head, neck and shoulders is objectionable. Females should display good width of pelvis to facilitate ease in calving. This pelvis width development should be obvious when viewed from the rear. The udder should display only four developed teats of even size and symmetrical placement. In heifers, teats should be small and not overly fat. Mature cows should exhibit sufficient udder development to facilitate milk production, but the udder should not be pendulous or loosely attached to the body. Heifers should attain two-thirds of mature size before breeding. Example: If an animal’s expected mature weight is 1000 lbs., then she should be bred at 650 lbs. or over.

Evaluating the Udder

It is difficult to determine what a heifer’s udder will look like at maturity, but there are indicators that will provide you with some clues. Teat size and placement are important, as are the overall balance and symmetry of the udder. Problems evident in a heifer’s udder will be magnified after calving, so it’s important to be critical to avoid having to cull an unproductive or unsound udder post calving.

What to Look for in a Desirable Male

Males: Should appear masculine. Older bulls may naturally shift weight development forward as they age, but should not appear weighted excessively in the neck and shoulders. Preputial sheath should be trim and fit close to the abdomen. Pendulous, poorly attached sheaths should be discouraged. There should be no evidence of swelling, injury or asymmetry of the penis. Testicles should be large and nearly symmetrically developed. Scrotum should be of large circumference, should display a definite neck and should show compartmentalization between sides (see diagram). Scrotal circumference should be at least 32 centimeters, preferably 34 centimeters at one year of age. There is strong correlation between scrotal circumference and the fertility of the bull’s daughters (as measured by earliness of puberty). Bulls should have a deep, barrel-like chest, with a long body, a deep, wide loin muscle and be thick and muscular. He should have a strong libido (sex drive) and seek out and breed cows in heat.

Scrotal Shape and Circumference

A normal scrotum (Figure 1, center) is pear-shaped with an obvious neck, and should have a minimal circumference of 32-34 cm at one year of age. Straight sided or v-shaped scrotums are undesirable.
Weights: The weight of cattle will vary from region to region, with genetics, environment, and management practices being major factors in determining the outcome. The following data represents a majority of animals, however, excellent animals can be found outside these ranges. Heifer calves at birth range from 60-70 lbs. Mature cows range from 1000-1400 lbs. Bull calves range from 70-80 lbs. Mature bulls range from 1600-2000 lbs.

Legs and Feet

The legs should have strong pasterns. Hooves should be shaped well, not long or cracked, without corns between the toes. Both fore and rear legs should display foot placement that distributes weight evenly or on all aspects of the hooves. The feet should strike the ground evenly when walking, with the front hooves directed straight forward and the rear hooves directed slightly outward. To determine length of stride, an ideal animal’s back foot will land in the same track where their front foot took off: livestock judges refer to this as “covering their tracks.” Leg bones should be moderately short, providing sufficient support to bear the animal’s weight. Leg length should be moderately short in keeping with the traditional appearance of the breed.

Viewed from the side, hind legs should not be overly straight (post legs), or too angular (sickle hocked). Viewed from the front and rear, legs should be set far enough apart to allow sufficient heart, lung and body capacity. Viewed from the rear, hind legs should be nearly parallel from hocks to hooves, with a little set to the hind legs — they should not be too straight. (See drawings for desired conformation.)

Other Desirable Breed Characteristics

Disposition/Behavior: Belted Galloways should be of a calm and quiet disposition. They should not exhibit panic when approached, which can be determined by ears perking, excessively alert eyes, and constant defecation. They should not exhibit aggressive behavior toward humans, even when penned.

Maternal Characteristics: Cows should calve easily without assistance. They should exhibit immediate care of the newborn calf, and neither abandon nor surrender the calf. Protection of the calf in moderation is desirable, excessive protectiveness is helpful when cattle are in the “wild” but not within confined arrangement, as it may be dangerous. Cows should rebreat 90 days after calving.

Milk Production: Cows should produce sufficient milk for rapid development of calf. Udder and teats should appear symmetrical and healthy during lactation.

Foraging Characteristics: Cattle should feed aggressively on available pasture and utilize not only grass but also appropriate non-grass species when available.

Meatiness: Cows should produce offspring with finished carcass weights of 60-62% of their live weights. Carcass weights should be Choice or better.

Hardiness: Cattle should require minimal health care throughout life, be resistant to parasites and be able to “survive” on limited nutrients. They should adapt to environments of marked heat or cold with minimal stress, weight loss, or interruption of reproduction. They should remain active and vigorous well into their teens.

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