Angus cattle

Last updated

Angus cattle 18.jpg
A Black Angus bull
Conservation statusLeast Concern
Other namesAberdeen Angus
Country of origin Scotland
DistributionEurope, Australasia, Southern Africa, North America, South America
  • Male:
    850 kg (1870 lb)
  • Female:
    550 kg (1210 lb)
Skin colorblack
CoatBlack or Red
Horn statusPolled
  • Cattle
  • Bos (primigenius) taurus

The Aberdeen Angus, sometimes simply Angus, is a Scottish breed of small beef cattle. It derives from cattle native to the counties of Aberdeenshire and Angus in north-eastern Scotland. [1]

Scotland Country in Europe, part of the United Kingdom

Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Sharing a border with England to the southeast, Scotland is otherwise surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, the North Sea to the northeast, the Irish Sea to the south, and the North Channel to the southwest. In addition to the mainland, situated on the northern third of the island of Great Britain, Scotland has over 790 islands, including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides.

Beef cattle cattle breed

Beef cattle are cattle raised for meat production. The meat of mature or almost mature cattle is mostly known as beef. In beef production there are three main stages: cow-calf operations, backgrounding, and feedlot operations. The production cycle of the animals start at cow-calf operations; this operation is designed specifically to breed cows for their offspring. From here the calves are backgrounded for a feedlot. Animals grown specifically for the feedlot are known as feeder cattle, the goal of these animals is fattening. Animals not grown for a feedlot are typically female and are commonly known as replacement heifers. While the principal use of beef cattle is meat production, other uses include leather, and beef by-products used in candy, shampoo, cosmetics, insulin and inhalers.

Aberdeenshire (historic) Historic county in Scotland

Aberdeenshire or the County of Aberdeen is a historic county and registration county of Scotland. The area of the county, excluding the city of Aberdeen itself, is also a lieutenancy area. The county borders Kincardineshire, Angus and Perthshire to the south, Inverness-shire and Banffshire to the west, and the North Sea to the north and east. It has a coast-line of 65 miles (105 km).


The Angus is naturally polled and solid black or red, though the udder may be white. The native colour is black, but more recently red colours have emerged. [2] The UK registers both in the same herd book, but in the United States they are regarded as two separate breeds Red Angus and Black Angus. Black Angus is the most common breed of beef cattle in the United States, with 332,421 animals registered in 2017 [3] . In 2014, the British Cattle Movement Service named Angus the UK's most popular native beef breed, and the second most popular beef breed overall. [4]

Polled livestock

Polled livestock are livestock without horns in species which are normally horned. The term refers both to breeds or strains that are naturally polled through selective breeding and also to naturally horned animals that have been disbudded. Natural polling occurs in cattle, yaks, water buffalo, and goats, and in these animals it affects both sexes equally; in sheep, by contrast, both sexes may be horned, both polled, or only the females polled. The history of breeding polled livestock starts about 6000 years BCE.

Udder mammary glands of female quadruped mammals

An udder is an organ formed of the mammary glands of dairy breeds of cattle and female four-legged mammals, particularly ruminants such as goats, sheep and deer. It is equivalent to the breast in primates. The udder is a single mass hanging beneath the animal, consisting of pairs of mammary glands with protruding teats. In cattle there are normally two pairs, in sheep, goats and deer there is one pair, and in some animals such as pigs there are many pairs. In animals with udders, the mammary glands develop on the milk line near the groin, and mammary glands that develop on the chest are generally referred to as breasts.

United Kingdom Country in Europe

The United Kingdom (UK), officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and sometimes referred to as Britain, is a sovereign country located off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland, and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state, the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.



Aberdeen Angus cattle have been recorded in Scotland since at least the 16th century in the country's northeast. [5] For some time before the 1800s, the hornless cattle in Aberdeenshire and Angus were called Angus doddies. In 1824, William McCombie of Tillyfour, M.P. for South Aberdeenshire, began to improve the stock and is regarded today as the father of the breed. [2] Many local names emerged, including doddies or hummlies. The first herd book was created in 1862, and the society was formed in 1879. This is considered late, given that the cattle gained mainstream acceptance in the middle of the eighteenth century. The cattle became commonplace throughout the British Isles in the middle of the 20th century. [6]

16th century Century

The 16th century begins with the Julian year 1501 and ends with either the Julian or the Gregorian year 1600.

Angus, Scotland Council area of Scotland

Angus is one of the 32 local government council areas of Scotland, a registration county and a lieutenancy area. The council area borders Aberdeenshire, Dundee City and Perth and Kinross. Main industries include agriculture and fishing. Global pharmaceuticals company GSK has a significant presence in Montrose in the north of the county.

William McCombie , was a leading Scottish cattle breeder and agriculturist; he was also known as "the grazier king" or the "king of graziers". Born at Home Farm, Tillyfour, Aberdeenshire, the home of his father, Charles McCombie, a farming cattle dealer with Highland roots. He was the cousin of William McCombie of Cairnballoch, the founder editor of the radical Aberdeen Free Press.


As stated in the fourth volume of the Herd Book of the UK's Angus, this breed was introduced to Argentina in 1879 when "Don Carlos Guerrero" imported one bull and two cows for his Estancia "Charles" located in Juancho, Partido de General Madariaga, Provincia de Buenos Aires. The bull was born on April 19, 1878; named "Virtuoso 1626" and raised by Colonel Ferguson. The cows were named "Aunt Lee 4697" raised by J. James and "Cinderela 4968" raised by R. Walker and were both born in 1878, on January 31 and April 23, respectively. [7]

Juancho Place in Pedernales, Dominican Republic

Juancho is a town in the Pedernales Province of the Dominican Republic. It is a municipal district of the municipality of Pedernales.


Angus cattle were first introduced to Tasmania (then known as Van Diemen's Land) in the 1820s and to the southern mainland in 1840. The breed is now found in all Australian states and territories with 62,000 calves registered with Angus Australia in 2010. [8]

Tasmania island state of Australia

Tasmania is an island state of Australia. It is located 240 km (150 mi) to the south of the Australian mainland, separated by Bass Strait. The state encompasses the main island of Tasmania, the 26th-largest island in the world, and the surrounding 334 islands. The state has a population of around 526,700 as of March 2018. Just over forty percent of the population resides in the Greater Hobart precinct, which forms the metropolitan area of the state capital and largest city, Hobart.


In 1876 William Brown, a professor of agriculture and then superintendent of the experimental farm at Guelph, Ontario, was granted permission by the government of Ontario to purchase Aberdeen Angus cattle for the Ontario Agricultural College. The herd comprised a yearling bull, Gladiolus, and a cow, Eyebright, bred by the Earl of Fife and a cow, Leochel Lass 4th, bred by R.O. Farquharson. On January 12, 1877, Eyebright gave birth to a calf, sired by Sir Wilfrid. It was the first to be born outside of Scotland. The OAC went on to import additional bulls and cows, eventually began selling Aberdeen Angus cattle in 1881. [9]

Ontario Agricultural College agricultural school in Canada

The Ontario Agricultural College (OAC) originated at the agricultural laboratories of the Toronto Normal School, and was officially founded in 1874 as an associate agricultural college of the University of Toronto. Since 1964, it has become affiliated with the University of Guelph, which operates four campuses throughout Ontario.

United States

On 17 May 1873, George Grant brought four Angus bulls, without any cows, to Victoria, Kansas. These were seen as unusual as the normal American cattle consisted of Shorthorns and Longhorns, and the bulls were used only in crossbreeding. However, the farmers noticed the good qualities of these bulls and afterwards, many more cattle of both sexes were imported. [10]

On 21 November 1883, the American Angus Association was founded in Chicago, Illinois. [11] The first herd book was published on March 1885. [10] At this time both red and black animals were registered without distinction. However, in 1917 the Association barred the registering of red and other coloured animals in an effort to promote a solid black breed. [12]

The Red Angus Association of America was founded in 1954 by breeders of Red Angus cattle. It was formed because the breeders had had their cattle struck off the herd book for not conforming to the changed breed standard regarding colour. [12]


A separate breed was cross bred in Germany called the German Angus. It is a cross between the Angus and several different cattle such as the German Black Pied Cattle, Gelbvieh, and Fleckvieh. The cattle are usually larger than the Angus and appear in black and red colours. [13]


Because of their native environment, the cattle are very hardy and can survive the Scottish winters, which are typically harsh, with snowfall and storms. Cows typically weigh 550 kilograms (1,210 lb) and bulls weigh 850 kilograms (1,870 lb). [14] Calves are usually born smaller than is acceptable for the market, so crossbreeding with dairy cattle is needed for veal production. [14] The cattle are naturally polled and black in colour. They typically mature earlier than other native British breeds such as the Hereford or North Devon. However, in the middle of the 20th century a new strain of cattle called the Red Angus emerged. [15] [16] The United States does not accept Red Angus cattle into herd books, while the UK and Canada do. [16] Except for their colour genes, there is no genetic difference between black and red Angus, but they are regarded as different breeds in the US. However, there have been claims that black angus are more sustainable to cold weather, though unconfirmed. [16]

The cattle have a large muscle content and are regarded as medium-sized. The meat is very popular in Japan for its marbling qualities. [17]

Mixed herd of Black and Red Angus Red-angus.jpg
Mixed herd of Black and Red Angus

Genetic disorders

There are four recessive defects that can affect calves worldwide. A recessive defect occurs when both parents carry a recessive gene that will affect the calf. One in four calves will show the defect even when both parents carry the defective gene. The four recessive defects in the Black Angus breed that are currently managed with DNA tests are arthrogryposis multiplex (AM), referred to as curly calf, which lowers the mobility of joints; neuropathic hydrocephalus (NH), sometimes known as water head, which causes an enlarged malformed skull; contractural arachnodactyly (CA), formerly referred to by the name of "fawn calf syndrome", which reduces mobility in the hips; and dwarfism, which affects the size of calves. Both parents need to carry the genes for a calf to be affected with one of these disorders. [18] [19] [20] Because of this, the American Angus Association will remove the carrier cattle from the breed in an effort to reduce the number of cases. [21]

Between 2008 and 2010, the American Angus Association reported worldwide recessive genetic disorders in Angus cattle. It has been shown that a small minority of Angus cattle can carry osteoporosis. [22] A further defect called notomelia, a form of polymelia ("many legs") was reported in the Angus breed in 2010. [23]


The main use of Angus cattle is for beef production and consumption. The beef can be marketed as superior due to its marbled appearance. This has led to many markets, including Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom to adopt it into the mainstream. [17] Angus cattle can also be used in crossbreeding to reduce the likelihood of dystocia (difficult calving), and because of their dominant polled gene, they can be used to crossbreed to create polled calves. [24]

Angus calf with its mother Blackangus.jpg
Angus calf with its mother


Starting in the early 2000s, the American fast food industry began running a public relations campaign to promote the supposedly superior quality of Angus beef. Beginning in 2006, McDonald's commenced testing on hamburgers made with Angus beef in several regions in the US. After this test, the company said that customer response to the burgers was positive [25] and began selling the burger made with Angus beef in all US locations in July 2009. [26] In response to the test in the US, McDonald's Australia began selling two Angus burgers, the Grand Angus and the Mighty Angus, using Australian-bred Angus, in their restaurants. [27]

The American Angus Association created the "Certified Angus Beef" (CAB) standard in 1978. The purpose of this standard was to promote the idea that Angus beef was of higher quality than beef from other breeds of cattle. Cattle are eligible for "Certified Angus Beef" evaluation if they are at least 51% black and exhibit Angus influence, which include black Simmental cattle and crossbreds. However, they must meet all 10 of the following criteria, which were refined in January 2007 to further enhance product consistency, in order to be labelled "Certified Angus Beef" by USDA Graders: [28]

See also

Related Research Articles

Calf young of domestic cattle

A calf is the young of domestic cattle. Calves are reared to become adult cattle, or are slaughtered for their meat, called veal, and for their calfskin.

Red Poll cattle breed

The Red Poll is a dual-purpose breed of cattle developed in England in the latter half of the 19th century. The Red Poll is a cross of the Norfolk Red beef cattle and Suffolk Dun dairy cattle breeds.

Highland cattle Scottish breed of cattle

Highland cattle are a Scottish cattle breed. They have long horns and long, wavy, woolly coats that are coloured red, ginger, black, dun, yellow, white, grey, "silver", or tan, and they also may be Brindled. Highlands are raised primarily for their meat. They originated in the Highlands and Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland and were first mentioned in the 6th century AD. The first herd book described two distinct types of Highland cattle but, due to crossbreeding between the two, only one type now exists and is registered. They have since been exported worldwide.

Holstein Friesian cattle breed of cattle

Holstein Friesians are a breed of dairy cattle originating from the Dutch provinces of North Holland and Friesland, and Schleswig-Holstein in Northern Germany and Jutland. They are known as the world's highest-production dairy animals.

Red Angus breed of beef cattle

The Red Angus is a breed of reddish-brown-coloured beef cattle. It derives from the population of Aberdeen Angus cattle and, apart from the coat colour, is identical to it. Red Angus are registered separately from black Angus cattle in Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Dexter cattle cattle breed

Dexter cattle are a breed of cattle originating in Ireland. The smallest of the European cattle breeds, they are about half the size of a traditional Hereford and about one third the size of a Friesian (Holstein) milking cow. A rare breed until recently, but are now considered a recovering breed by The Livestock Conservancy.

Murray Grey cattle cattle breed

Murray Grey is a breed of Australian polled beef cattle that was developed in the upper Murray River valley on the New South Wales-Victoria border. They have evolved into a versatile breed that does well in a wide range of environments and produces top-quality carcases.

Afrikaner cattle cattle breed

The Afrikaner, also known as the Africander, is a breed of taurine-indicine ("Sanga") cattle indigenous to South Africa.

Belted Galloway Breed of cattle originating in Galloway, Scotland

The Belted Galloway is a traditional Scottish breed of beef cattle. It derives from the Galloway cattle of the Galloway region of south-western Scotland, and was established as a separate breed in 1921. It is adapted to living on the poor upland pastures and windswept moorlands of the region. The exact origin of the breed is unclear, although the white belt for which they are named – and which distinguishes the breed from the native black Galloway cattle – is often surmised to be the result of cross-breeding with the similarly-coloured Dutch Lakenvelder breed.

South Devon cattle cattle breed

South Devon cattle are a breed of British beef cattle. They are the largest of the British native breeds, and are believed to have descended from the large red cattle of Normandy which were imported during the Norman invasion of England. The breed is a rich, medium red with copper tints, though it varies in shade and can even appear slightly mottled. The breed today is predominately used for beef production although it has been milked in the past. The official governing body, The South Devon Herd Book Society was founded in 1891.

Limousin cattle cattle breed

Limousin cattle are a breed of highly muscled beef cattle originating from the Limousin and Marche regions of France. The breed is known as Limousine in France. Limousins Initially used mainly as draft animals, interest in Limousins as a source of high-quality meat grew about 200 years ago. The first Limousin herd book was then established in France in 1886 to ensure the breed's purity and improvement by only recording and breeding animals that satisfied a strictly enforced breed standard.

Shorthorn cattle breed

The Shorthorn breed of cattle originated in the North East of England in the late 18th century. The breed was developed as dual-purpose, suitable for both dairy and beef production; however, certain blood lines within the breed always emphasised one quality or the other. Over time, these different lines diverged, and by the second half of the 20th century, two separate breeds had developed – the Beef Shorthorn, and the Milking Shorthorn. All Shorthorn cattle are coloured red, white, or roan, although roan cattle are preferred by some, and completely white animals are not common. However, one type of Shorthorn has been bred to be consistently white – the Whitebred Shorthorn, which was developed to cross with black Galloway cattle to produce a popular blue roan crossbreed, the Blue Grey.

Galloway cattle one of the worlds longest established breeds of beef cattle, named after the Galloway region of Scotland

The Galloway is one of the world's longest established breeds of beef cattle, named after the Galloway region of Scotland, where it originated, during the 17th century.

German Angus German breed of cattle

The German Angus is a modern German breed of beef cattle. It was bred in the 1950s in Germany by crossing Aberdeen Angus with various native German cattle breeds: German Black Pied, Deutsche Rotbunte, and Fleckvieh.

Australian Lowline cattle breed

The Australian Lowline is a modern Australian breed of small, polled beef cattle. It was the accidental result of a selective breeding experiment using black Aberdeen Angus cattle at the Agricultural Research Centre of the Department of Agriculture of New South Wales at Trangie. It is among the smallest breeds of cattle, but is not a dwarf breed.

Black Baldy cattle breed

Black Baldy is a type of crossbred beef cattle produced by crossing Hereford cattle with a solid black breed, usually Aberdeen Angus. Angus bulls are also used on Hereford heifers in an attempt to produce smaller calves and reduce dystocia. The term is particularly used in Australia and New Zealand. In North America, the term "Black Whiteface" is also used in some regions.

Black Hereford (crossbreed)

The Black Hereford is a crossbreed of beef cattle produced in the British Isles with Hereford beef bulls with Holstein-Friesian dairy cows. Black Herefords are not usually maintained from generation to generation, but are constantly produced as a byproduct of dairy farming as a terminal cross. They are one of the most common types of beef cattle in the British Isles, outnumbering many pure beef breeds.

Speckle Park cattle breed

The Canadian Speckle Park is a breed of cattle native to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. It is one of only a few beef cattle breeds developed in Canada. The latter half of the breed's name derives from the characteristic white, black and grey spots and patches of color that it is known for.

Black Hereford (breed) cattle breed

The Black Hereford is a beef cattle breed, derived mainly from Hereford cattle, but with some mixture from black Angus cattle, resulting in black cattle with a white head and finching.

Congenital contractural arachnodactyly (CA), also known as fawn calf syndrome, is an autosomal recessive genetic disorder in cattle. The disorder affects the connective tissue of muscles, leading to contracture of the upper limb, and laxity of the joints of the lower limbs. CA affects Angus cattle, and associated breeds such as Murray Greys. The mutation which causes this defect is a deletion on bovine chromosome 21.


  1. Encyclopædia Britannica 15th Ed. Vol.10 p.1280
  2. 1 2 "Oklahoma State University Red Angus breed profile".
  3. "Frequently asked questions about the world's largest beef breed registry". American Angus Association. 11 April 2018. Retrieved 11 April 2018.
  4. "Aberdeen-Angus breed increases influence on British Beef industry" (16 March 2015). Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society. Retrieved 29 April 2015.
  5. "Britannic Rare Breeds – Angus Cattle". Britannic Rare Breeds. Archived from the original on 20 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  6. "The Cattle Site – Angus Breeds". The Cattle Site. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  7. Historia de la Cabaña Charles de Guerrero, criadora de Angus desde 1879 Archived 8 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  8. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 22 March 2012. Retrieved 28 August 2013.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  9. "First Herd of Aberdeen-Angus Established by OAC in 1876". Kitchener-Waterloo Record (Microfilm). 6 March 1954. p. 2.
  10. 1 2 Burke, Tom; Kurt Schaff; Rance Long (2004) [2004]. "The Birth of the Breed". Angus Legends: Volume 1. p. 17.
  11. American Angus Association. "Angus History". Archived from the original on 24 September 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2006.
  12. 1 2 Red Angus Association of America. "History of Red Angus". Archived from the original on 24 September 2006. Retrieved 2 October 2006.
  13. "German Angus cattle information". Interboves. Retrieved 10 August 2015.
  14. 1 2 RBST. "Aberdeen Angus (Native)". Factsheet. Kenilworth, Warwickshire: Rare Breeds Survival Trust. Archived from the original on 30 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  15. "Encyclopædia Britannica – Cattle Breeds". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  16. 1 2 3 "Red Angus History" (PDF). p. 2. Retrieved 2 August 2015.
  17. 1 2 "New South Wales Agriculture – Angus cattle". Archived from the original on 24 June 2015. Retrieved 25 June 2015.
  18. Denholm, Laurence. "Congenital contractural arachnodactyly ('fawn calf syndrome') in Angus cattle" (PDF). NSW Department of Trade and Investment PrimeFact 1015 May 2010.
  19. Vidler, Adam, Defects on rise as gene pool drains, p. 63, The Land, Rural Press, North Richmond, NSW
  20. Another genetic defect affects Angus cattle Retrieved on 29 May
  21. "American Angus Association". Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  22. Whitlock, Brian K. "Heritable Birth Defects in Angus Cattle" (PDF). Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  23. "Denholm L et al(2010) Polymelia (supernumerary limbs) in Angus calves".
  24. "Angus". Cattle Today. Archived from the original on 17 October 2006. Retrieved 29 October 2006.
  25. Weston, Nicole (8 March 2007). "New Angus Third-Pounders at McDonald's". Slashfood. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  26. "McDonald's to debut $4 Angus burger". MSNBC / The Associated Press. Retrieved 1 July 2009.
  27. "McDonald's – Angus Beef". McDonald's Australia.
  28. "Angus FAQs". American Angus Association. Retrieved 2 August 2013.

Breed associations

Unless otherwise stated, the associations below register both red and black animals.




New Zealand: