About Angus Cattle
Angus Beef, also known as Aberdeen cattle, are a very
successful and well known breed of cattle. They originated in Scotland in the
highlands of Northern Scotland, in the countries or "shires" of Angus
and Aberdeen of Angus and Aberdeenshire, but today they are found worldwide as
one of the most successful cattle ever. There are two strains in the Angus
breed - Black and Red, and are naturally polled.
Angus cattle, locally also known as doddies or hummlies,
were developed by three Scottish ranchers in the early 1800s.
Hugh Watson. Both Hugh Watsons father and grandfather had
been cattle buyers and breeders. The family is known to have owned cattle as
early as 1735. Hugh Watson became tenant of Keillor Farm in Angus in 1808.
He received from his father's herd, six of the best and
blackest cows, as well as a bull. That same summer, he visited some to the
leading Scottish cattle markets and purchased the 10 best heifers and the best
bull that he could find that showed characteristics of that he was focused on.
The females were of various colors, but the bull was black; Watson decided that
the color of his herd should be black and he started selecting appropriately.
His favorite bull was named Old Jock. Old Jock had been awarded the number 1 in
the Herd Book at the time. The bull was bred by Watson in 1842 and was sired by
Grey-Breasted Jock. The bull apparently was used very heavily in the herd from
1843 until 1852 and was awarded the sweepstakes for bulls at the Highland
Society Show at Perth in 1852, when he was 11 years old.
In addition Watson heavily used a cow named Old Granny. She
produced a total of 29 calves, 11 of which were registered to the Herd Book.
Unfortunately she was killed by lightning when she was 35 years old.
Hugh Watson practiced the fitting and showing of his cattle
more than was common by other breeders of his day. He made his first exhibition
at the Highland Agricultural Society Show at Perth in 1829. During his long
show career, he is said to have won over 500 prizes with his cattle and did a
great deal to increase the popularity of the black polled cattle over the
William McCombie. William McCombie took the farm of
Tillyfour in Aberdeenshire in 1824 and founded a herd from predominantly
Keillor bloodlines. His well-documented close breeding produced outstanding
cattle that he showed widely in England and France.
Mr. McCombie showed great foresight in planning matings,
used careful management, and had unparalleled success in the show ring, and in publicizing
his famous cattle. Probably his crowning success in the show ring was at the
great International Exposition held at Paris in 1878. There he won the first
prize of $500 as an exhibitor of cattle from a foreign country and also the
grand prize of $500 for the best group of beef-producing animals bred by any
exhibitor. Not only did Mr. McCombie show in breeding classes but he also
exhibited in steer classes at the market shows.
Probably the most famous steer that he produced was the
famous show animal Black Prince, who won at the Birmingham and Smithfield shows
in 1867 when he was four years of age. From the latter show, he was taken to
Winsor Castle for the personal inspection by Queen Victoria, and later her
Majesty accepted some Christmas beef from the carcass of the steer.
The English Crown has long been interested in livestock
improvement, and Queen Victoria paid a personal visit to Tillyfour a year or
two after the visit the famous Black Prince to the castle. Such a tribute to an
outstanding breeder naturally attracted great attention to the already famous
herd. McCombie had the further distinction of being the first tenant farmer in
Scotland to be elected to the House of Commons.
Sir George Macpherson-Grant. Macpherson-Grant had the oldest
herd of polled Aberdeen Angus cattle in Scotland when he started improving the
breed. In 1860, he bought a cow named Erica from the Earl of Southesks Kinnaird
herd which started a famous Ballindalloch bloodline. He was considered one of
the greatest exhibitors of the breed, and won prizes at all the major shows,
including first prize at the Paris Exhibition of 1878.
By line breeding and selection for type, these early pioneers
established the foundation for what is unarguably the greatest beef breed in
Since then, across the globe ranchers have recognized the Angus
breed's ability to introduce functionality and value into their herds, while
cutting operating costs, reducing time and labor requirements, balancing traits
and boosting profits.
Angus cows weigh an average of 550kg, while bulls can weigh
about 850kg, with high muscle content. Their frame is classed as average-sized.
They have a good reputation for docility and compliancy.
They have high fertility rates, and the calving process is known to be a smooth
operation with little to no complications usually arising.
They are generally healthy, and common bovine illnesses like
eye cancer are rare. Angus cattle, and even Angus crosses, do very well and
often thrive on forage-based production systems. Their carcasses provide high
saleable beef yields, with a good ratio of lean meat against waste, like bone
and fat. The meat also has good marbling, making for tender beef.
Angus can also work well for dairy farmers, with some
farmers finding the shorter gestation period (around 1-2 weeks less than
average continental breeds) of Angus-cross calves a good factor in maximizing
milk output. The ease of calving for dams mated with an Angus bull improves the
Angus beef often is often promoted as having superior taste.
This has been expanded by many fast-food chains promoting the message that
100% Angus makes their meat tastier.
Angus Cattle Associations