Galloways win over couple

Kate MatthewsCountryman

It’s not that often you come across Belted Galloways in the Great Southern, but when you do, you can’t help but admire their striking double coat of black and white.

When Ross Rainbird and his wife Janice decided to set up a home-away-from-home in Mt Barker, where Ross grew up, buying into the Scottish breed was an easy decision.

“The choice was grapes, sheep or cattle and originally when we brought the property, we were going to plant grapes,” Ross said.

“Thank god we didn’t. Sheep, we were told, spend five years trying to die on you and cattle are easier to look after,” Ross said.

The decision was made to run Belted Galloway’s because of their striking appearance.

Ten years on Ross, who runs Imtrade Australia, an agricultural chemical company, said the focus was now on Angus but they still kept a few Belted Galloways for old times’ sake.

The naturally polled and distinctive breed is also a point of interest for locals and tourists travelling past.

“They are a nice friendly breed and are quite productive except the market doesn’t like them — the meat’s not striped,” Ross laughed.

“Usually the Belted Galloway makes 20 to 30 cents a kilogram less than the Angus which is probably because no one really understands the breed.

“I guess feedlotters don’t quite know how they grow out and we are too small ourselves to make a market.”

Breed traits include longevity until 17 to 20 years of age, adaptable to various climates, high fertility calving up to twice in a year, ease of calving and excellent mothering.

The beef is tender and has a low fat content of 2 per cent.

“It’s quite tasty beef,” Ross said, “and we’ve got a menu from the Rockpool restaurant in Melbourne where they have Belted Galloways.

“I think they are more popular in the eastern states where there are more hobby farms.”

Running cattle was been a steep learning curve for Ross, who grew up as a ‘townie’ but said it had been “great fun” at the same time.

“It’s been a slow process,” he said. We’ve had to regenerate our pastures and fertilise and add lime.

“For the first couple of years we only ran 12 cows.”

Today, Ross has 80 Angus breeders plus 12 Belted Galloway cows and calves.

He uses genetics from Ardcairne Angus and breeds his own Belted Galloway bulls.

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