Science and Practice

The White Calloway Conference on the 8th of September, 2014 was a complete success

Some 70 participants from Australia, Canada, England, Germany, New Zealand, Scotland, and Switzerland experienced highly interesting specialized lectures as well as live and impressive visits to Galloway herds.

White Galloway Konferenz

Report and results

The conference was held as a satellite meeting of the World Galloway Conference that took place in Germany just before enthusiasts of White Galloways met in Neversdorf, Schleswig-Holstein, and was hosted by Rinderzuchtverband Schleswig-Holstein (RSH), the local cattle breeders‘ association. Around 70 breeders from around the world, that is, countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and the UK attended the meeting and put their international views into the discussion with a large crowd of German breeders.

Welcome addresses came from the German Cattle Breeders Association (ADR, Bonn, Dr. Bianca Lind), representatives of RSH and the ‘local-organizer-in-chief’, Mrs. Mechthild Bening. Mrs. Bening has been a long-time and very successful breeder of White Galloways in Germany and also has acted as the driving force for the project on coat color inheritance of White Galloways.

The focus of the conference was the project ‘Coat color inheritance in White Galloways’ which has been conducted by Professors Bertram Brenig and Hermann H. Swalve, from the German Universities of Göttingen and Halle, respectively. The project could be denoted as a ‘bottom-up’ project as it was initiated by White Galloway breeders, namely by Mrs Bening, and also relied on the collection of data by the breeders themselves.

The set-up, the methods, and the results of the project will not be repeated here as they are documented in great detail by the three talks given by Brenig and Swalve.

In brief the outcome of the project is:

  • The desired coat color and markings, that is, white with black feet, black ears, and black muzzle are a result of a very special mode of inheritance which is quite unusual in animal breeding
  • Parts of the KIT-gene, the ‘color diluter’ can duplicate and translocate with the effect that the dosage of ‘color dilution’ gets stronger as these parts settle in one or even both alternate chromosomes in addition to the original position
  • The desired color and markings of White Galloways are found when this duplication and translocation affects only one of the paired alternate chromosomes. When both are affected, the animal is almost or fully white
  • If the process as described does not happen at all, the animal is just fully black and undistinguishable from a black Galloway
  • The mode of inheritance found appears to follow Mendel’s rules for a single gene with two alleles although the molecular actions behind it are completely different. For simplification, the mode of inheritance despite this can just be described as ‘Mendelian’ since any calculations will follow the same rules as in the single gene with two alleles case.
  • In this sense, the perfect colors and markings of White Galloways are the outcome of the heterozygous genotype. This in turn means that mated inter-se, the outcome will always be 25 % fully white, 50 % perfect colors, and 25 % fully black. Matings of fully white animals inter-se will always result in fully white animals

Quite naturally, the presentations stirred up a lively discussion among all participants. The discussion focused on the question how to continue. The scientists stressed that the results should not be viewed as a limitation or a disappointment but rather as an enlargement of the basis for the selection of Galloways. Black Galloways now can be taken into the account of White breeders and numerous animals descendent from White Galloways, although with ‘faulty’ colors, now can come back into consideration if they fit into the breeding goal otherwise.

In the afternoon, hosted by Mechthild Bening, in Bebensee, located just across a beautiful lake from Neversdorf, results from test matings of fully white x fully black were shown. All 17 matings resulted in beautiful calves exhibiting the perfect colors or, in a few cases, they were slightly overmarked. No calves were simply fully white or fully black. An impressive proof of applied science!

We hope that all attendees of the conference enjoyed participating as much as we did enjoy to host and/or contribute to it. The project will continue and the future goal is to also unravel the genetics behind animals that either bears the ‘perfect’ markings or these markings plus a little bit more color. The general mode of inheritance is clear now, now let’s work on the ‘further details’ …

White Galloway Konferenz

The Project is to be continued

The question still to be clarified is why strongly-marked sometimes takes place when there should be 'perfect' markings. Another important point to clarify as well was the general process of colouring. In order to arrive at answers here, it was important to get input from the breeders who had "fed" the data bank with information as well as to involve the scientists in the same way.


All the empirical data are constantly up-dated and then passed on to the University in Halle. In the same way, blood samples or hair from all of the new-born animals are sent for DNA examination to the University in Göttingen.