The Produce Index: Warialda Belted Galloway Beef

Published on 29 June 2020

This heritage-breed Victorian beef used to be exclusive to farmers’ markets. Now you can get it online.

What
Entirely grass-fed beef produced from Belted Galloway cattle, a Scottish heritage breed. Belted Galloways are known for the distinctive white band – the belt – around their middle and have a thick, shaggy coat that repels water and makes them well-suited to all kinds of weather.

Where
The original Warialda farm consists of 60 acres in Clonbinane, about 80 kilometres north of Melbourne. Purchased in 1980 by Allen Snaith, the property is now one of several parcels of land used for Warialda Beef. As the business expanded into commercial beef production in the early 2000s, more land was purchased to make room for the cattle that today number 260 head.

Who
Allen and Lizette Snaith are the husband-and-wife team behind Warialda. Allen started out with 10 Belted Galloways to keep the grass under control at Clonbinane while he was still living in Melbourne. The couple initially ate whatever beef they produced or gave it away to friends, and were more interested in entering the cattle at agricultural shows. It wasn’t until they were asked to bring some beef to an open day at Fernleigh Farms in the early 2000s that they ever considered selling their meat to the public.

Why it’s different
It’s legal and quite common for cattle marketed as “grass-fed” to be finished (or fattened) on grain before they’re sold. The Snaiths have always raised 100 per cent grass-fed beef.

Grass-fed meat is often less marbled than grain-fed, but it’s rich in its own way, according to Lizette. “The meat is – not chewier – it’s denser,” she says. Tender’s not everything, she says; flavour is the thing. “People at farmers’ markets often tell us they use half as much of our mince because it’s so much richer.”

You’ll encounter some lesser-known cuts in the Warialda range, from pope’s eye steak to girello. The Belted Galloways are a slow-maturing breed, so the Snaiths’ cattle are processed a year or two older and up to 50 per cent heavier than typical commercial beef. This means better-developed muscles that offer more options when butchering, allowing the couple to put to good use their butchery qualifications they received from NMIT.

The Snaiths believe strongly in using every part of the carcass, taking the time with trickier cuts such as banjo steaks (which come from the blade). They turn less popular cuts into pastrami and other smallgoods.

Who’s a fan
Melbourne cafés Common Galaxia and Pope Joan have used Warialda smallgoods for many years; Pope Joan’s perennially popular Reuben is anchored by the pastrami.

“Pastrami is the heart and soul of any decent Reuben,” says David Mackintosh, co-owner of Pope Joan, “and the flavour and texture of Warialda's is unbeatable,”

Buy
The Snaiths launched an online store at the start of the lockdown, uncertain of the short-term future of farmers’ markets. You can find their products on the Open Food Network platform. Warialda is also gradually returning to select markets, with Lancefield and Bendigo first back on their schedule.

Order meat online between Wednesday and Sunday each week at openfoodnetwork.org. Visit Lancefield Farmers’ Market, fourth Saturday of the month, 9am-1pm, Lancefield Park, Chauncey St, Lancefield, or Bendigo Farmers’ Market, second Saturday of the month 2pm-4.30pm, Bendigo Pony Club, cnr Breen St and Belle Vue Rd, Bendigo.

Find out more: wbgbeefcom.au, @warialdabeef

By Emma Breheny

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