Erin O’Rourke was gifted two cows for her birthday, prompting the development of a Belted Galloway herd
BOIS D’ ARC, MO. – The breathtaking Recharge Ranch, owned and operated by Brian and Erin O’Rourke, is a 130- acre working cattle ranch situated in the heart of the Southwest Missouri Ozarks, in Bois D’ Arc, Mo. The O’Rourke’s breed Belted Galloway cattle. Cullen O’Rourke manages the ranch.
Erin loves spending time in the pasture with her Belted Galloways. For her 50th birthday, Brian gifted her with two Belted Galloway/Longhorn cows. The “Belties” were purchased from family friends in Oklahoma City, Okla. Today, there are 40 Belties at the ranch.
“I have enjoyed the Belted Galloways immensely,” Erin said. “The breed itself has such a great temperament and they are good for small ranches.”
Erin has registered purebred animals and crossed animals from her original two cows. They were crossed with Texas Longhorns. The Belted Galloways and the Longhorns are both survival breeds. She also has some Charolais-crosses. Erin specifically chose Belties for their good nature, small frame and heartiness. The herd consists of registered black, red and dun Belties.
“The Belted Galloways are beautiful to look at, great for smaller properties and are excellent beef cattle,” Erin explained. “They give birth easily, are good mommas. They are great foragers and will survive the heat and harsh winters because of their double coat. They’re much more conducive to our Southwest Missouri weather patterns, instead of a single coated animal, that gets really hot in the heat and cold in the winter.”
Belted Galloways or “Oreo” cattle have a strong survival instinct. As a whole, they are a joy to work with, when managed properly. Belties are generally of a quiet temperament, but still maintain a maternal instinct and protect calves against perceived threats. Even the bulls are noted for their calm demeanor. The mommas work hard when it’s time to calve and they don’t give up. The calves have fairly small heads and shoulders which makes for easier calving. Mommas produce enough milk so calves can be weaned at half their weight or 205 days. They are well-suited for rough grazing land and will use coarse grasses other breeds will shun.
The Belties are grass-fed and finished. No grain is used. It takes them a little longer to come up to weight verses grain fed cattle. Erin also feeds locally-sourced alfalfa.
Currently, natural coverage is used in breeding. They bred for fall calving this year. Last year, they had more males and two heifers. One heifer was sold and one was kept. This will be the last year for the current herd sire. He will be sold. Erin also sold five registered bulls, four reborn from the Ranch.
Finished weight for purebreds range from 300 to 500 pounds. The crossbred animals finish at 700 to 900 pounds. Health protocols include yearly vaccines and worming. They also have access to salt and mineral blocks. They utilize rotational grazing with hot fencing and closing pasture gates. A sparkling creek runs through the ranch proving the cows with clean, fresh water.
“My Belted Galloways are all genetically diversified,” Erin explained. “I purposely chose genetics, from lines different than other breeders in the area.”
Belties ranked first in taste among other beef cattle breeds in a USDA study. They are an ancient breed of Galloway cattle that are rugged, efficient and are able to convert a wide range of forages into delicious meat. Galloway breeds date back over 1,000 years and are the original gourmet beef.
The O’Rourke family commutes from Kansas City, where they live, to spend time at their ranch on weekends.
Recharge Ranch is warm and welcoming vacation rental close to Springfield, Mo. It’s an excellent place to leave all your cares behind and enjoy. The main house is five bedrooms and three baths with two master suites. They also have a bunkhouse with one queen and two full bunk beds. It has a game room and kitchenette. Adjacent to the bunkhouse is a pond that houses bluegill, crappie and bass. Occasionally the wildlife and cattle will put on a parade for onlookers.