Tuesday, February 14, 2012

White Galloway Cattle and Color Patterns

Whisperings Jasper, A White Galloway Bull
Semen Available, Suncrest Stud, New Zealand
Last week I wrote about the Riggit Galloway, which generally is a line-backed bovine, having a white stripe from tail to nape and being color-sided - what we call linebacked.   The origins of the seedstock for the new Riggit Galloway breed came largely from White Galloway herds where the riggit marked calves were born that are of course not desirable in a White Galloway herd, just as they aren't desirable in a British White herd.  At the same time they are keen on retaining those color points, and at one web site we are told:

"It has been shown by years of breeding White Galloway bulls to White Galloway cows that the distinctive black colour points do disappear. However the use of a Black Galloway bull on a well marked or mismarked White Galloway cow does nearly always produce a well marked White Galloway calf. Over the years mating a Black Galloway bull to a White Galloway cow produces a 50:50 chance of a black or white calf." (Belted Galloway Cattle Society)
Lifestyle Danika, White Galloway Cow
Pinzridge Stud, New Zealand
There is a lengthy discussion entitled 'Inheritance of Colour in the Cattle Breed White Galloway' at the Suncrest Stud web site.  It seems they have taken the initiative to develop a project aimed at unravelling the various alleles which contribute to the variations in color that result from White Galloway breedings, with the goal of course to find the path to consistent breeding results as to White Galloway color and markings.

"Despite the fact that the mode of inheritance of colours and markings in White Galloways up to now is mostly unclear, it is attempted to fix rules, e.g. for registering animals in herdbooks, according to their colour. The basic rules of inheritance suggest that matings of animals with “perfect” colours and markings will yield the highest probability of obtaining offspring with the same colours. However, it is also quite clear that this strategy is not always successful and also it has to be decided what to do with animals with “perfect” colours and markings that are offspring from parents that not at all show these “perfect” characteristics. Hence, there is a specific demand for further research in the White Galloway breed." (Suncrest Stud News Page)

"Confusion exists whether the breed White Galloway indeed is a breed or just a phenotype. This may lead to even more confusion whether an animal with perfect colour and markings can be registered as a White Galloway even if its parents are not “perfect” or vice versa, i.e. the question of whether a White Galloway with offspring in different colour and markings can still be a registered White Galloway. The answers to all these questions are yet unknown. However, preliminary data points to assume that the White Galloway phenotype is indeed the result of a distinct genotype. The objective of the project is to scientifically solve the “WGA-mystery”, i.e. to unravel the mechanisms of colour inheritance in White Galloways."  (Suncrest Stud News Page)
Pinzridge Endevour with Hadley at Gore 2011
Pinzridge Stud, New Zealand

If you search for images of White Galloway and really give a good look, you'll notice that the breed is quite short legged and with very nice body depth and quite consistently meaty thick bovines.  The calf photos show youngsters that one might wonder if they were indeed of a miniature variation, they are so small and deeply built and just plain cute.  But of course they grow up to be very thick and stocky moderate framed beef animals that pack a lot of volume. 

Here is the often repeated description of the basic characteristics of the breed:

"Bulls weigh from 1,700 pounds (770kg) to 2,300 pounds (1045kg) with the average being 1,800 pounds (820kg). Cows weigh from 1,000 pounds (450kg) to 1,500 pounds (675kg) with the average being 1,250 pounds (565kg). Calves generally weight from 40 pounds to 60 pounds. Galloways are generally of a quiet temperament, but still maintain a strong maternal instinct and will protect a calf against perceived threats."
But at Pinzridge Stud we are told " . . .  Galloways are medium in size, with cows weighing about 1,000 pounds and bulls about 1,600 pounds."  For certain, many of the images you can find of White Galloways have them looking about 1000 to 1200 lbs, but it is always hard to judge a photo.  And what about all that hair in some of the images?  The Galloway puts on a second layer of longish hair in cold climates, yet will shed this layer and slick off in warm climates.  I was surprised to learn this, and long ago I had nixed them as a possibility in East Texas because of the thick coat of hair.

White Galloway Cow, Available for Purchase at Pinzridge Stud in New Zealand
Here's an old photo of two Elvis sired young calves in a cold winter.  The bull calf on the left put on quite a shaggy coat of hair.  I've noticed some do and some don't - just never stopped to consider the genetics of the reason.  I've had some freshly born with much longer hair than normal in the winter time as well, but again never took note, just thought they looked warm and cute!

Next week I'll post some photos of the newborns from this past week.  It has been interesting to see who got spots from whom this go around, and it has been down right disappointing to have had only one heifer born of these first five calves of the season,  The past couple of years I've been quite lucky in the rate of heifers born to bulls -- I'm afraid that luck has quite run out for spring 2012!