Belted Galloways ("Belties") are an ancient breed that originated in Scandinavia and travelled to Scotland with the Vikings. As a result the traditional collective noun for Belties is a 'fold' (a Nordic term) rather than a herd and many are named for Nordic warriors and deities. However our cows are named by the children, hence 'Mine', 'Yours' and 'Itchy', 'Fluffy', 'Snowbell', 'Snowbilly' and 'Darth Vader' (now in the freezer).
Belties can be black, red or dun in colour and are distinguished by a wide white 'belt' around their middles. They have an unusual double-layer fur coat that protects them from cold winters - it's not unusual to see Belties happily grazing with a foot of snow on their backs.
Belted Galloway is considered to be one of the finest breeds of beef due to the texture and taste benefits of a slower growth breed, excellent mineral and fat content and low waste.
Belted Galloways respond well to low intensity extensive production methods, and with their long shaggy winter coats they are generally hardier, longer lived, and more efficient at converting their grass diet into top quality meat than their modern counterparts.
Our fold feeds on a natural diet of grass in summer and hay or haylage (hay harvested before drying and kept in dark plastic bags to breakdown before feeding) in the winter, and nothing else - no additives, no growth promoters, no in-feed antibiotics, and definitely no concentrated cereal rations that are routinely fed elsewhere.
Our cattle live outside all the year, and although they have access to a shelter during severe weather, they rarely seem to use it.During the summer the cows and calves roam free on the New Forest as the farm enjoys the ancient right to 'depasture'. We monitor the herd regularly and bring them in from the Forest in mid-November when Hugh believes that he simply whistles and they will come running back to him!
Calves are left with their mothers until, or just before, the arrival of the next generation. Since the herd forages outside all year round in family groups it allows the animals' natural instincts and behavioural patterns to be fully expressed.