In 1994 we became interested in the Galloway breed to add to our crossbred herd. We live in the Big Horn Mountains and the breed intrigued us with their host of attributes all of which sounded as a perfect fit for our cattle operation. In 1995 we bought 28 cow calf pairs and a show winning bull from Canada. Right off we were very impressed with the Galloway breed. Easy calving cows that were excellent mothers. All kept their condition in winter with their nice winter coat (just right for Wyoming winters) The plants they ate in our pastures with grass, weeds and very large brush batches is absolutely amazing. All was perfect and the percentage of Galloway cattle quickly grew in the herd.
Two years into using Galloway we processed our first steer. This is where the surprise came to light. The meat was alright, but was not the high quality marbling carcass that the Galloway was known for. We changed bulls with another nice looking show winning bull, but this time from the U.S. The next steer faired really no better for quality. But we had grown to love the other attributes for our Galloway cows. We decided that maybe we just were not experts at finishing steers. In 2000 we sent all of the steers and feeder heifers to a feedlot to have the experts finish them and see how things went.
Hmm not good! The Galloway breed has a reputation for quality meat over several hundred years, but something was not right with this group. We searched for known quality carcass bulls. The search was hard as not many herds had solid carcass data. Finally we got our hands on semen from the 1960’s for Certified Meat Sires. The next group of feeders looked like this….
AI’ed with same semen.
Ah headed in the right direction. And not too bad considering that many of the dams were the original crossbred Angus/Charlois crosses.
Now I am a slow learner and could not resist buying a very handsome bull from a well known breeder. Here’s what happened
Wow! From 2001 until 2007 we used nothing but progeny from three Certified Meat Sires. Clarance’s Dream, Pete’s Top Gain and Lottie’s Voyager. 2007 we added an Australian bull that had progeny winning carcass contest in Australia.
During this time we sold fed steers to Grass Finished internet companies. We sold to grass finishing outfits and currently sell to a finishing company that sells fed animals with no hormones antibiotics and no GMO feed. We use to gather a group of Galloways for shipping to these customers, but they have started to request just our feeders as they have figured out that they are the ones that best work for them.
Here are my thoughts on the Galloway breed after 21 years of experience. The Galloway is a great breed. Everything that is claimed on the American Galloway Association web page is totally true except the carcass claim. Animals need to be constantly judged for all their qualities and if you don’t test you don’t know. The show industry has done a disservice to all breeds. Show winning bulls are widely used with no knowledge of carcass quality. One can easily research on the internet to find that carcass quality is a major concern for consumer, but is hard for feeders to supply. The USDA even lowered the standards for Prime and Choice carcasses, but it helps very little.
Our goal is to sell cattle that excel in all Galloway attributes with a heavy focus on carcass quality. The total package not just a pretty face.