The Angus breed of cattle is one of the most representative and successful of all cattle breeds. Sometimes referred to as “the business breed,” this black-colored animal has British roots and is highly sought for high-quality crossbreeding. Angus beef as a food product is renowned for its excellent flavor and exquisite marbling texture. With just minimal days on feed, it can produce Choice as well as Prime grade cuts of meat.
A Cut Above
The program overseeing the designation of Certified Angus Beef was groundbreaking at its inception. For cattle to qualify, they have to be more than one-half black in color and cannot show any characteristics of other breeds. Receiving the Certified Angus Beef designation allows Angus cattle breeders and beef producers to raise their profile while marketing their stock and ultimately receive higher payout premiums. Consumers benefit from knowing how the beef will taste when they buy it.
The desire for a coveted CAB (Certified Angus Beef) designation has led to an escalation of breeding black Angus bulls into cattle stock to raise percentages of the black color in cattle breeds. While quality beef and cattle traits are not exclusive to the Angus breed, they do demonstrate a consistency of quality. The Angus breed is very much considered the “total package,” as it covers a wide range of valuable traits sought by the demanding and competitive cattle industry. These include:
- The breed is quite hardy and resilient
- Angus cattle are docile and easy to manage
- Cows have a superb maternal nature and produce calves easily
- Resultant polled (hornless) calves help to minimize injuries in feedlots
- Black coloration functions as a sun blocker, preventing burnt udders and even cancer
- Its meat demonstrates consistent high quality and superiority on a range of texture and flavor points
The History of Angus Cattle
The origins of the Angus breed can be traced to the northern portions of the English countryside. Black and red cattle were originally equally chosen and bred as a means of producing the highest quality cattle traits. Eventually, the cattle of the Angus and Aberdeen counties of Scotland came to be widely used to help improve the genetics of other cattle in the area.
Angus cattle debuted in the U.S. when a Midwestern rancher sought to make the breed a primary offering in the late 19th century. Black Angus were not initially received well, as their “polled” (hornless) feature wasn’t yet perceived as positive; also, ranchers thought their dark color was just too different from the familiar red hue of most cattle in the U.S. at that time.
The Black Angus Catches On
Despite this initial negative reaction, Angus ranchers persisted in promoting the Angus breed and crossbred it with the resilient and popular Texas Longhorn. This combination produced very hardy polled black hybrids, which started to sway the critics. More Angus cattle were imported from Scotland in the years that followed.
In 1883, the American Aberdeen-Angus Breeders’ Association was started in the city of Chicago, Illinois. It was later renamed the American Angus Association and is currently the world’s largest registry of purebred beef. The Angus bull continues to be considered a premium crossbreeding choice among cattle breeders today. Angus hybrids tend to carry the top qualities of both breeds and make for better grain converters and an overall higher performance. For all of these reasons, Black Angus continues to be the cattleman’s choice for quality and consistency.
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