Swaledales are certainly more numerous but the passion of any farmer who keeps Belties is pretty intense.
Belted Galloways are fine looking and instantly recognisable with their thick white belt around their midriff, contrasting with their (usually) black bodies. Some people call them Oreo cows!
Handsome as they are, this isn't really why they're so prized. Their contribution to biodiversity is celebrated. They can thrive on lower quality upland pastures, adapting to whatever is available. As they graze they break up the sward, which in turn creates a habitat for many species. One farmer told me their cowpats alone can support over two hundred different species of insect!
Their rugged constitution means Belties can lead a good natural outdoor life, grazing on the hills all year round. They have a lovely thick curly coat, perfect to protect them from any harsh Dales weather, keeping them warm and deflecting moisture. I love that the long hair around their ears is said to prevent frostbite! They mature slowly, can live longer than many other breeds, make good mothers and have a good immune system.
They are naturally 'polled' so don't have any horns and have a docile nature, making them easier to handle. It's said that when cattle were driven long distances to markets, using the old drovers' routes, the Scottish drovers liked to have at least one Belted Galloway in their herd so they could see where their cattle were in the dark!
If you'd like to learn more about Belties, and perhaps stay where they're a much loved part of the farm, take a look at the accommodation run by the Heseltine family at Hill Top Farm by Malham or stay with Christine at her bed and breakfast In Nidderdale.