What is it?
Galloway beef cattle originated in Scotland in the 17th century. They have thick, dark coats perfect for cool climates and are naturally polled (that is to say hornless), which makes them easier to handle and less harmful to other animals in the herd. Smaller than today’s beef cattle, they have excellent foraging instincts, which makes for well-marbled flesh with deep meaty flavour. Early in the 20th century, cattle breeders developed a line with a thick white belt running around the centre of the animal, which became known as Belted Galloways. Warialda Belted Galloway runs both breeds, and has made the most of the animals’ natural ability to turn pasture into excellent, high-end beef products, working to the tenets of good animal husbandry, animal welfare and progressive butchery.
Who produces it?
Husband and wife farmers Lizette and Allen Snaith started farming Belted Galloways in 1980. They picked the breed because it ticked a whole lot of boxes: “Belted Galloways look good,” says Lizette. “They’re exceptional mothers. They’re quiet in the stockyards and they are very hardy animals.” And, Allen adds, “they also taste really good.” In 2005, the Snaiths started processing their cattle to sell beef at farmers’ markets and to a handful of restaurants.
Where is it?
The cattle are raised on a family farm at Clonbinane in the Great Dividing Range near Kilmore, about 55km north of Melbourne. Some herds are sent to farms in cool-climate regions with fertile soils and good pastures near Healesville, Forrest, Woodend, and the Mornington Peninsula.
How is it different?
Warialda Belted Galloway beef is slaughtered at around three years – much older than the supermarket standard of one year. The animals are hand-selected in the paddock by Allen Snaith when he believes they’re at their prime. Carcasses are then sent to a dry-aging facility in New South Wales for around six weeks to improve flavour and tenderness.
Who’s a fan?
Chef Matt Wilkinson spent a year working on the Clonbinane farm with the Snaiths to learn about farming, and uses the beef at Montalto in Red Hill. “Allen and Lizette have an amazing connection with their animals, and every decision they make is about how to improve the welfare of the animals [in order] to produce the most excellent beef,” he says. “They also work incredibly hard developing new ways to make the most out of every part of the animal. I am a massive fan of their bone marrow and cuts used in slow cooking like oxtail.”
Annie Smithers from Du Fermier in Trentham says she loves everything about Warialda. “Cooking their prime cuts over woodfired coals is a delight. I love their bolar blade and chuck for a boeuf daube with aromatics and red wine. Served with fresh root vegetables and potatoes Lyonnaise, it’s one of life’s little joys.” You’ll also find the beef gracing both the laap diip salad Thi Le serves at Jeow, and in the banh mi made by her team next door at Ca Com.
Where can I buy it?
Get your beef directly from the Snaiths at farmers’ markets at St Kilda, Castlemaine, Lancefield and the Bendigo, or head to their website: wbgbeef.com.au.
By Richard Cornish