Cattle - Belted Galloways
As a member of the Rare Breeds Trust for several years, Glenthompson Pastoral Company breeds and fattens both Belted Galloway cattle and Wessex Saddleback pigs. Passionate about the black-and-white Belted Galloway breed, E A Mann embarked upon cultivating a substantial herd, which now supplies the rare breed beef to wholesalers represented at various farmers markets and within upmarket restaurants and boutique hotels throughout Victoria.
The GPC Belted Galloway bloodlines originated from both the Yeaburn Stud, of Peter and Jenny Kudelka, and the Cumbria Stud, of Stan and Lorna Robinson. In more recent years, the Grimshaw’s herd from Tyrendarra in Western Victoria, has additionally been incorporated into the GPC herd, providing for increased genetic diversity, a paramount priority for the ongoing health of rare breed stock.
GPC currently has a 500 strong herd, joining 150 cows and heifers this year. Through breeding, buying and growing-out, the company aims to provide 100 bullocks to market per annum. The successful market uptake of the specialty beef has been such that despite the comparatively high output of Belted Galloway beef from GPC, this supply typically and perhaps favourably leaves a shortfall in terms of meeting all market demands. In addition to supplying farmers markets and boutique restaurants, GPC provides Belted Galloway beef to a prominent American restaurant chain who themselves aim to source exclusively grass-fed and grown beef. This relationship aligns with the GPC philosophy of animal husbandry based upon the firmly trusted belief that all stock benefit from a system of low-stress, grass-fed and free-range livestock management. Decades of experience have proven the stock to be happier and subsequently the produce to be better as a result of such management.
Over the past 20 years GPC has placed significant emphasis upon building the herd to a sufficiently substantial size in order to allow for selective breeding in favour of the characteristics of size, milking ability, conformation, temperament and aesthetic markings. Ultimately, the aim is to run 200 high quality breeders.
Through experience GPC has found the Belted Galloway breed to be hardy cattle, well suited to the Western District climatic cycles being exposed to cold winters and hot summers. Initially thought to be one of the smaller beef cattle breeds, GPC has focussed upon selecting for bigger cows in order to increase the genetic propensity for breeding larger Belted Galloway beef cattle. In addition, the breeding program has focussed upon selecting for a good temperament in the cattle to enable ease of handling. The breed forages well, consuming the tall grasses that are excessively long and lacking in sufficient nutrition to meet the needs of the sheep. The fertility of the breed has proven to be reliable and it has additionally been beneficial for GPC operations that the herd’s management and maintenance needs are essentially minimal.
On the properties where the Belted Galloway breed are situated, supplementary feeding is not required and the cattle have consistently been found to prosper on the pastures whether running with sheep or not. Maintaining a herd of limited size additionally suits the GPC approach of light stocking rates. Since having established the herd GPC has found other breeders tend to abide by similar environmental and animal husbandry practices. E A Mann has found the cattle breed to be enjoyable and amusing to work with, fondly recalling an occasion when a small herd of steers evaded mustering on a hot day by evacuating themselves to the centre of a large dam, on mass. In situations such as these, owners can only laugh at the cheek of the breed. The passion for, and enjoyment found in, the Belted Galloway cattle suggest that they may well be the most universally adored breed by their owners.
The GPC Belted Galloway herd was initially established as the result of the passion of E A Mann. Over time, knowledge of the breed has been amassed and the enterprise has grown and developed into a significant commercial venture. Looking to the future, GPC aims to continue to share and develop their knowledge and understanding of the rare breed, as well as contributing to the ongoing prosperity and growth of the Belted Galloway cattle industry within Australia.