Rumour has it that the reason hill farmers favour Belted Galloway cattle is because their distinctive white belly stripe makes them easy to pick out at a distance. But ranger and stockman Matt Stanway reckons there’s a lot more to Belties than that.
‘For several years I’ve worked with Belties in and around the Cotswolds, and in my opinion they are a breed apart.’
Each year, a bull is introduced to the cows, and in due course plenty of ‘humbug’ calves appear. Previous champs have included Felix and Figaro, but this year it's the turn of 18-month-old Wally.
So over the summer look out for this strapping young man around the Ebworth estate. It could be a case of ‘Where’s Wally?” Belties love it tough. Managed by the Trust, this Cotswold herd is employed by local farmers and nature reserves to improve rough land and encourage wildlife.
" Belties can tough it out in all conditions and graze on grasses many animals wouldn’t touch. In doing so they can transform a landscape for the good of both wildlife and people. And they also have a certain style!"
They’re a real success story, and the cattle are not only highly attractive but gentle with it.
These are animals with good guts and a healthy appetite, which in in turn makes for excellent, award-winning beef. Matt and his team have won awards for their meat and are rightly proud of their cattle.
Better than any machine
As Matt says, ‘Belties are the best tool for the job, whatever the weather – no machine could ever match what they do. I have enormous respect for them.
‘With these cattle on board our grasslands have shifted from grass to herbs. Marjoram and thyme, vetches and rare orchids are now popping up, and with these come masses of butterflies and beetles. It's a win-win situation.’