THE RIGGIT Galloway cattle society celebrated its 10th year anniversary last week and to mark the occasion held a four day jamboree, including a special trip to the Isle of Bute to commemorate the late honourable Miss Flora Stuart, a staunch supporter of the breed.

Other highlights included a morning visit to the home farm at Dumfries House to view rare breed cattle and sheep, as well as a number of Galloway herd visits and delectable meals, kindly put on by the host farms. The final visit was hosted by one of the society founders, Ann Bell, to view the famous Clifton herd of Belted Galloways in Dumfries.

Riggits, the occasional and unpredictable love child of the white Galloway, continue to mystify breeders with their unexpected arrivals; however, they are now becoming a much loved and welcome addition to Galloway herds. Recognisable by the white stripe running down their spine, unlike their close ancestors the Belted Galloways with their iconic white belt around the middle. Blue, black, dun, red or brown in colour with flashes of white colouration, the Riggits are a strain of Galloway which display the same good beef confirmation, thick dual coat and the ability to survive on poor pasture. If not an iconic breed, Riggits are certainly a beautiful rare breed who in recent years have become more established here in Scotland and in the rest of the UK.

Honorary Secretary of the society Anton Coaker, of Sherberton Farm in Dartmoor, looks after around 20 Riggits in his own mixed beef herd, which also includes around 50 pedigree Belted Galloways. Anton spoke to The Scottish Farmer about the 10th Anniversary and paid tribute to the role Lady Flora played in the revival of the rare breed.

“There was nowhere else to hold the 10th anniversary than back in the heartlands of Galloway. We wanted to pay our respects to Miss Flora having lived at Mochrum breeding Belties, Whites and Riggits, she unfortunately died two years before the society was formed and it was felt there was a space unfilled at the table at the first meeting 10 years ago. Riggits only existed as the occasional throwback amongst the white Galloways and as they didn’t fit a particular idea of the various Galloway breeds, many were slaughtered. It was largely due to Miss Flora and her encouragement of the breed that we have a society today."

The society was founded by Ms Bell of Clifton farm, Dumfries, John Corrie of Park farm, Kirkcudbright, Colin Nankervis, of the Amal herd, West Penwith, David Howard, of the Dunragit herd, Gloucester, Mr Coaker, and the current president Neil Alsop of Barwood farm in Derby. Now 10 years on, there are over 200 Riggits in the UK and around 20 breeders.