Around Aberdeen Angus
In the early part of the 19th century, the Aberdeen Angus breed (or Angus as it is internationally known) was formed from the polled and predominantly black cattle of North East Scotland, known locally as ‘doddies’ and ‘hummlies.’ The establishment accompanied developments in husbandry and transport, as with other breeds of cattle and sheep in Britain. The earliest families date back to the middle of the 18th century, but the Herd Book (1862) and the Society (1879) were established much later. The history of the breed’s early history is the history of its breeders, progressive lairds and farmers, three of whom were outstanding.
In 1808, in Angus, Hugh Watson became Keillor’s tenant. He widely collected stock and produced cattle of excellent quality and character. The founder of the breed may be called Hugh Watson, and he was instrumental in choosing for his herd the best black, polled animals. Old Jock, who was born in 1842 and sired by the Grey-Breasted Jock, was his favourite bull. When it was created, Old Jock was given the number ‘1’ in the Scotch Herd Book. A cow was another of Watson’s notable animals: Old Granny, born in 1824 and said to have lived 35 years and raised 29 calves. The vast majority of Angus cattle living today are able to trace these two species back to their pedigrees.
Bull of Aberdeen Angus
Picture courtesy of Clark Angus Ranch, www.clarkangus.comWilliam McCombie came from a family of graziers and worked with large numbers of cattle in early life. In 1824, he took over the Tillyfour farm in Aberdeenshire and founded a herd of Keillor blood. His well known close breeding produced excellent cattle that he demonstrated in order to build the reputation of the breed in England and France.
Sir George Macpherson-Grant returned from Oxford in 1861 to his inherited estate at Ballindalloch, on the River Spey, and took up the processing of our breed for almost 50 years, which was to be his life’s work. The Members of Parliament were both McCombie and Macpherson-Grant.
The early pioneers founded in Angus, Aberdeenshire, Speyside and the Laigh of Moray, the greatest of beef breeds, by line breeding and selection for type. In the 20th century, stock from this region continued to lead the breed well, while Aberdeen-Angus cattle spread across Scotland, England and Ireland.
With 324,266 animals registered in 2005, Black Angus are now the most common breed of beef cattle in the United States.
Aberdeen Angus cattle are naturally polled and may be black or red in colour, although the dominant colour is black, white may occur on the udder occasionally.
They are immune to harsh weather, undemanding, adaptable, good-natured, exceptionally early mature, and with beautifully marbled meat have a high carcass yield. As a carcass breed, Angus are known. In crossbreeding, they are commonly used to enhance carcass quality and milking ability. Angus females calve quickly and have a good capacity for calf rearing. When the polled gene is passed on as a dominant trait, they are often used as a hereditary dehorner.
The Angus cow reliably delivers a calf that hits the ground running, with little assistance required, with calving ease and vigorous, live calves. Like the calf’s instinct to get up and suck within the first few moments after birth, the Angus mothering instinct is very powerful.
The Angus cow is known for its maternal features, calving ease and ability to deliver a calf every year that exceeds half her body weight. Excellent mothers with outstanding milking ability. An Angus mother puts her all into her calf, delivering up to weaning an abundance of milk.
Early maturity, vitality and stayability – whether it’s her first or her fourteenth calf, the Angus cow does her job well. Stayability (the continuing ability of a cow to raise calves) is more than just a term for Angus-it is not uncommon to be active for 12- and 13-year-old Angus cows.
Naturally polled – Angus cattle do not need dehorning because they possess a strongly heritable, naturally polled gene. Horns can cause bruising and tearing and another reason to choose Angus is good animal care.
No cancer eyes or sunburned udders – Dark skin and red and black Angus cattle udders rarely pose a problem with sunburned udders. Similarly, in Angus cattle, eye cancer is not prevalent.
Adaptable to all weather conditions – Angus thrives with a minimum of care under all conditions.
Superior feed conversion – A recent analysis of crossbred cow types has shown that Angus-cross is one of the most effective, with higher net investment returns.
Natural marbling for juicy, tender beef – In order to meet customer demand, the industry calls for carcasses with more marbling. Marbling has a relatively high heritability. The link between marbling and tenderness is also moderately high, so tenderness increases when cattle producers want to marble. The use of Angus cattle with its superior marbling ability opens the door to enhanced beef tenderness and increased beef market acceptance.
Research shows that Angus sires can be selected to produce offspring with an increased capacity to grade AAA without sacrificing feed efficiency or animal growth and without raising the yield grade at the cost of carcass quality. Preferred carcass size and quality
Northern and southern Australia studies have shown that Angus cattle finish early with good growth, eye muscle and yield. CRC crossbreeding research in northern Australia over Brahman cows reveals that, relative to other breed crosses, Angus has more marbling and the best MSA eating efficiency outcomes.
Angus cross calves had the lowest birth weights in the Southern Crossbreeding Project undertaken by South Australian and Victorian researchers, close growth to weaning, and finished earliest in the feedlot, producing the most marbling.
In the USA, Canada, Argentina, New Zealand and Australia, Aberdeen Angus cow and calfAngus are a truly foreign breed, the dominant breed.
One in four cattle registered in Australia are Angus plus at bull sales, Angus is 30 percent of the cattle sold.
Angus has also spread to South Africa, Brazil, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Germany, and remains common in Britain, of course.