Great Grassfed Heritage Cattle Breeds
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The Galloway is a Scottish breed first developed in southwest Scotland and refined in the 1700s and early 1800s. Interestingly, the Galloway is related to another famous Scottish beef breed — the Aberdeen Angus. For a short time, the herd books for these two breeds were maintained together, but since 1877, the breeds have diverged. The Angus has been solely developed for beef production with an emphasis on grain-finishing, whereas Galloway breeders selected an animal that could produce excellent beef on the poor forage found on subsistence farms in the Scottish countryside.
The Galloway was first imported to the United States in the 1850s. The breed’s initial popularity rivaled that of the Angus, but in the late 1800s, the Galloway began to disappear.
Today, the Galloway’s global population is less than 10,000 animals, but farmers interested in grassfed cattle are jumping on the Galloway bandwagon. Galloway cattle are renowned for their high-quality, tasty beef. The breed has a long body conformation, which increases the production of high-priced cuts of meat. Its innate grazing and browsing abilities produce an exceptional beef with little input needed from the farmer. Averaging 1,200 pounds for cows and 1,800 to 2,000 pounds for bulls, the Galloway is a medium-sized breed that adapts to both warm and cold climates. The breed has an exceptionally heavy winter coat that it sheds in warmer months or in hotter climates. The breed’s coat is so warm, in fact, that it was used in the early 1900s in place of buffalo robes.
Most Galloways are black, but red, dun and white also occur. Breeders further describe Galloways as easy calvers; they are rugged, mild-mannered, and able to flourish on grasses and weeds that other breeds would avoid to the point of starvation. The Galloway is sure to steer you in the right direction when it comes to grass-based beef production.
Interested in grass-based dairying, eh? The Canadienne, or French Canadienne, just might be the breed for your small farm or homestead. The Canadienne hails from Canada, as you might guess, and is considered one of the oldest cattle breeds developed in North America. The breed’s development began in the early 1600s when French settlers brought Norman and Breton cattle to what is now Canada. This foundation stock was isolated for more than a century, adapting to the rugged conditions and harsh climate of the Canadian landscape. The result was a hardy breed that produced well on poor forage and in challenging environments.
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