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Beltie-Briefs Newsletter

November 16, 2020


Belted Galloways: An Original in  Faux World

Ellen Sims

I strongly believe that the Belted Galloway breed’s time has come again! As more and more people recognize what this breed brings to the table (no pun intended). If we promote and breed for the finest qualities within the breed so that they are maintained, we will be highly successful. People are caring more and more about what they eat and how it is sourced. They are realizing that good health and long active life does not come with a magic pill. Belted Galloway breeders and owners have or are getting the message. GLBGA members, let’s share our stories and what we are doing on a large or small scale to enhance and raise awareness of the outstanding characteristics of this breed!

H.C. Sims Farms raises, observes, and sells Belted Galloway cattle, genetics, and beef. We have a large herd. Our vision goes in the face of current management practices. Feedlots, quick turnover, genetic engineering and additives are not what I looked for in this breed. I have always looked to Belted Galloways because of their inherent qualities. You have all read about them.

Docile: I would say calm and confidant. Don’t separate or corner one. Don’t get between a cow and new calf. Being docile in stressful situations is not guaranteed!

Beautiful: Like Marilyn Monroe. Lawn Ornaments! PLEASE GET REAL! For years, people haven’t looked beyond the belt. The real value isn’t just the pretty coat, but all of the other factors people are waking up to today. Faux nothing, they are the real thing!

Naturally good genetics: Yes, that is true. Some say 1,000 years of natural selection. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean every animal is like that today. The weak or inferior in the wild die off, that does not happen often in a farm situation. To preserve the fine natural qualities of the breed, buyers and breeders must be knowledgeable and selective.

Perfectly marked Belties are the only good Belties: With a history as old as theirs, so far I haven’t hear a good explanation for a mismark. In a show ring or a breeders herd, I would prefer not having them. However, their form can be exceptional! Can a mismark have a perfect calf ? Oh, yes! I would steer the bulls, however. The mismarked animals are just as good for beef production, so there is a definite place for them. Some shows now have a category for them.

Longevity: The cattle business seems to function on quick turnover. At H.C. Sims Farms, we are testing health, productivity, and quality over the long haul. How long do these bulls live and remain productive? How about the cows? Can the cows have healthy births and raise healthy calves at 10 or 20? I’ve heard that they can. Some of you may have proof you need to share with GLBGA members through the newsletter. I know they have them in UK by report. We are testing that out for ourselves. What if a cow skips a breeding season? Well, if you get 18 out of 20 years worth of calves what do you think she cost you?

Healthy cattle: Yes, they are as a whole. However, the buyer must be aware of the questions they need to ask and the answers they receive. If you are unfamiliar with a seller’s terminology, ask what they mean. BSE, exposed to a bull verses breed checked, 2 testicles exposed for a bull, steered, Vet checked, health certificate and many more things are fair game to ask and get answers for. Many customers are new to the breed and new to cattle. We want them to stay in the breed and help to increase our numbers and spread the word about how great Belted Galloways are; not how they were misled.

These cattle take care of themselves! I can buy them, put them in a rough pasture, and they will take care of themselves: No, they need proper forage. Vet checks for things like pinkeye, birthing assistance, and general observation. They are animals to be valued and cared for!

Nutritious, naturally lean beef: Yes, depending on how they are feed. H.C.Sims Farms sells pasture raised and lightly grain fed Belted Galloway beef. I like the taste and texture. We will soon have some grass-fed and grass-finish beef for sale as well. Our newest effort is Special Reserve 36- pastured aged in the tradition of our Kentucky heritage (Aged like fine bourbon). I love it and so do our customers! Other Beltie beef producers are working at shortening the time to harvesting. This is all great for the breed. If GLBGA provides a forum for breeders large and small to share their observations and report their findings, it can only help this breed and it’s owners to be successful and flourish.

They mature more slowly: Yes they do! They are not a good choice for a feedlot situation. However, they can mature and grow beautifully on grass. They have a luxury that many of us lack time! I think that many of have found out that the high stress life style is not great for us. Why would it be good for what we eat? I sound like a real health nut! Yes, one who loves a good Belted Galloway steak!

As I said above, I strongly believe that the Belted Galloway breed’s time has come again! Many of the things I have mentioned are not news to long time breeders and cattlemen. They are new to many of our customers starting out with Belties. Some think sale barn cheap Belties are the same as show or top breeding stock. They become discouraged and leave the breed when they get more information or run into problems. They don’t ask the breeder the right questions, are disillusioned and leave the breed. We need to do the best job we can to create a great Beltie experience for these new buyers. It doesn’t matter if they want to show with their kids, have a small farm upon retirement, create a beef business, or just have a few to keep their fields clean; it is our duty as breeders to know our customer and make their experience a great one! Belted Galloway breeders and owners have or are getting the message. These customers are embracing the Belted Galloway breed because they care about their own health, their family, and their life style. They see the story and the qualities of this breed as the perfect match with their
goals. It is our job to help make their experience a good one as best we can. Belted Galloway cattle deserve to maintain their originality. They are the Real Deal!

GLBGA members, let’s share our stories and what we are doing on a large or small scale to enhance and raise awareness of the outstanding characteristics of this breed within our group and with our new customers. The opportunity is NOW!



Ellen Sims - H.C. Sims Farm

Our farm is now in the fourth generation. I am Ellen Sims, ( second generation) and many
ask why the farm isn’t named for me. Where is he? Well, here is the story. H. C. Sims Farms was original founded by and later named for a man of vision. A man, who grew up and was educated in the school of hard knocks. He had major successes and failures, both of which were in part caused by outside forces such as World Wars, Economic Depression, accidents, and inventions. He rolled with the punches, but never felt he couldn’t learn from failures and in some cases turn them into amazing successes. He never got too old to dream or learn! When my brother and I were born, he bought a farm for us to grow up on. A place where he said you could see and feel the hand of God everyday. A place where a child could explore, learn about the joy of work well done, the love of the animals surrounding us, and get to know who we were and who we wanted to be. He wanted us to be strong, resilient individuals; who could pursue our dreams and withstand the ill winds that sometimes blow without defeat. He asked me to make him one promise when I was 18; to keep the farm. I did! I am Ellen Sims, the torchbearer of his vision! I am doing all I can to insure that strength, resilience, and individuality is sustained in Howard Clark Sims III, Rebecca Sims Illig, ( the third generation) and their children: the fourth generation. I surprised a lot of people when I bought a Belted Galloway bull when I didn’t have any cows. Why? I saw the bull with the qualities I was looking for and didn’t want him to get away. Yes, I do things my way! I value my successes and learn from my mistakes! That bull wasn’t one of the mistakes. He is still with me and I see him everyday! He has created champions both male and female. From his start, we have had many other Champions and their genetics along side his have given us great joy. We sell breeding stock from all of our varied bloodlines. We sell semen from our many bulls. Some of those bulls were Champions and some were never shown, but have produced Champions. We have sold semen and breeding stock to people who have been highly successful with them in the show ring, and have sold stock to those who are successfully building their own small herds. We are happy for them. Our newest endeavor is our beef store! We are having another great adventure! But, it is not quite what we expected! A dark cloud called Covid-19 has caused a few frustrations. Early on, they targeted my age group as most likely to be unable to survive the virus. I decided if it was going to kill me; I was going to look darn good in my casket! So I started on a journey using this time to read about and implement habits to improve my health and mobility. I needed to think out of the box! I knew I needed to eat my vegetables and less meat and fast food. Cut out the sweets! And I did! Boy, does that get old fast for someone who grew up on a farm and loves beef. Then, I started seeing a change in medical opinions. Fish were being questioned and for the first time on the limited list due to farm raised practices (China),and contamination ( in the oceans) endangering their benefits. Meat was described as store -bought, feedlot, and even faux. Several no red meat Drs. are now saying smaller portions of meat are acceptable if pasture raised, grass-fed, locally sourced etc! Belted Galloways, this is made for you. Covid-19 has awakened the public to their food supply and the supply chain. How about that! Well, a new definition of our customer, what they need, and how to facilitate their purchases is needed. Clark Sims is my partner in Belties in the Bluegrass LLC. We are developing a more interactive online persona to make shopping safe and convenient for our customers. Rebecca Illig was to serve Belted Galloway beef in the restaurant. We  look forward to that as governmental restrictions ease in the future. Our family has resilience. I sincerely hope that what H.C. Sims founded and I have nurtured will be here along with our Belted Galloway Cattle for many generations to come. Yes, I’m wearing my Beltie mask for now!

Be safe and well! I look forward to meeting you soon at GLBGA events!


Herd this at the fence...

Illinois farm dog ranks among nation’s top 10

Sensing, herding, alerting and protecting represent many attributes of an outstanding farm dog. In the case of Rayne, a 6-year-old border collie owned by Farm Bureau members Julie and Terry Willis of Belvidere, preventing probably comes to mind first when they think of their dog. 

“Well, Rayne is really the boss, she helps us every day,” said Julie Willis. “As soon as we open the door, she’s out there ahead of us, she pretty much can predict which way we go or which direction she thinks we should go.”

The dog has been selected as one of the top 10 finalists in the American Farm Bureau Federation’s (AFBF) Farm Dog of the Year contest. The organization features Rayne and other dogs on its Facebook page as part an opportunity for users to vote for a “People’s Choice Pup.”

The Willis family farms in Boone County, growing soybeans, corn and hay, with 44 “belties,” or Belted Galloway cows and calves, and two herd bulls. It’s the two bulls that Rayne keeps a particular eye on as an injured paw led to a serious wound two years ago that almost cost the dog her life.

“The two bulls were standing there nicely waiting to go into the pasture, and then all of a sudden, crashed heads,” said Willis. “She thought they were close enough to me because they were spinning around, and she jumped in. Lo and behold, there was a big yipe and she went rolling.”

One of the 1,500-pound bull’s hooves stomped Rayne’s front, right paw, slicing it open. Willis doused the wound with cold water and rushed the dog within 30 minutes to their veterinarian. The border collie spent two weeks under care of the local vet, but her condition worsened.

“She had to go for a week in Madison (Wis.), the infection got so bad,” said Willis. “They didn’t know if she’d even be able to keep her leg.”

The dog ended up losing part of her paw, but doctors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Veterinary Hospital turned Rayne’s infection around. After a week there, the dog eventually returned to the northern Illinois farm with a hefty cast on the paw and leg. The dog eventually resumed her full schedule of watching, sensing, herding and alerting, which didn’t surprise Rayne’s trainer, Lori Swanson.

“They have to have a little bit of fearless quality in them,” said Swanson. “Rayne jumped in when Julie was being threatened by the bulls with no thought for her own safety at all. She was there to help when she needed to.”

Swanson believes Rayne represents “a natural” when it comes to having the instinct and work ethic to serve in many capacities. In addition to her farm work, Rayne has trained with Willis and Swanson to compete in scent competitions and also serve as a therapy dog.

“She was a natural for a therapy dog just because of her overall demeanor, she’s so quiet and gentle,” said Swanson. “For nose work, she’s also a natural because she’s got her nose everywhere, and I suspect that’s one of the reason’s she makes such a good farm dog.”

Rayne represents the second border collie that has been part of the Willis family, obtained as a puppy after the first dog passed away. Julie Willis believes the dog has exceeded their expectations.

“I think the role of dogs, and the role of this dog is to be there,” said Willis. “We all know farming is challenging at the best of times, and at the worst of times, when they are right there, you don’t need words. You need fur.”

To learn about Rayne and see the other nine AFBF Farm Dog of the Year finalists, and to participate in the “People’s Choice Pup” component of the contest, go to this section of the organization’s Facebook page.
Direct Marketing
 Marketing Galloway Beef
H.C. Sims Farms has long been breeding Belted Galloway cattle, but some of you have have noticed our new Website, Facebook , and Instagram pages called Belties in the Bluegrass LLC. Belties in the Bluegrass is a beef business involving Clark Sims and Me. That is why there is a new name for this enterprise. Our farm store is open and our web presence is almost finished. We are excited about all of the new possibilities it opens for us and Belted Galloway beef promotion.


As I speak to Beltie owners and potential owners, many what to know about getting into the marketing of beef. This is a new adventure for us and we have found many resources on the internet for advice. I am sure there are many more than I am mentioning here. I know several people who have benefited from Charlotte Smith on Youtube. If you go there, you will find many ideas and links to her seminars online as well as the free Youtube ones. She makes a lot of sense and is easy to follow and very step by step.

Another system is Seven Sons Farm. Seven Sons has great information and help for online sales and shipping systems. It is a little pricey for the small farm with limited beef quantity for sale. If your dreams are bigger, this may be the sight for you.

Another site is Barn2Door. It is less costly and can develop with you. If you have the time you can develop all of your own systems or find someone local to help. More and more people, potential customers, are developing an interest in the source of their food and their food supply chain. Pasture raised, grass-fed, and local are being advertised. Knowing and meeting the needs of your customer is critical in the long run. Getting your message out not just during an emergency, but for the long haul is important.

I would love to see a regular part of our newsletter devoted to questions and experiences people have as they go along this journey. It would be valuable to all of the GLBGA membership
and I would love to see a listing on GLBGA’s website of farms that sell Belted Galloway Beef so that potential customers can find us. Please send me feedback at I’ll be
glad to contact you and see if there is demand for this among the membership.
Copyright © 2020 Great Lakes Belted Galloway Association, All rights reserved.

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