The cow breed known as the Angus was originally known as Aberdeen-Angus for two of Scotland's northernmost counties where the cattle were first bred. The color black was chosen as dominant, although there seems no real reason for the choice. The first Angus in America were also the first polled (hornless) breed seen there. Four bulls were brought from Scotland to Kansas City, Missouri in 1873 by George Grant, who hoped to establish the breed and create a strong market. Though they were first called freaks, he was able to demonstrate their worth and crossbred them with Texas longhorns, with the black and polled genes being dominant.
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Artodactyla
Family - Bovidae
Subfamily - Bovinae
Species – B. taurus
Common Names – Angus Cattle, Black Angus cattle, Aberdeen Angus
While the original cattle that the Angus were bred from came in many different colors, the standard color since the 1800's is black, with red found in some areas. Angus cattle are naturally polled, which was considered strange when they were first introduced to America in 1873 but it became much more accepted over the next few decades when their hardiness became apparent. Angus are a beef breed, used for their meat and not dairy production. They are somewhat shorter and stockier than other cattle breeds, with a market weight of 1,000-1,300 pounds but the meat is considered to be superior. There is no distinction between the red and black Angus other than color and most of the world - with the exception of the US - does not differentiate between the two.
Most breeding is tightly controlled for both timing and genetics. Gestation lasts nine months with calving occurring in the spring although pregnancies can occur any time during the year if bulls are not kept separate. There is generally only one offspring, with twins possible but undesirable since they are considered smaller and less healthy. The young will stay with their mother and nurse until they are weaned, which is generally done at 4-5 months.
There is a six point scoring systems used for yearling cattle and the more docile individuals are generally chosen for breeding both for easy of farming and because there has been a shown increase in the value of the meat produced from the docile cattle. One is considered docile while a six is considered very aggressive. Temperament is also important for calving females and Angus excel in motherhood duties, caring for and feeding their calves well.
The extinct aurochs were the ancestors to all modern cattle and the last known individual was killed in 1627 by a poacher. Their domestication began about 8,000 years ago in the Middle East and there are now over one and a quarter billion cattle in the world. Unlike many breeds, Angus can be traced back to two individual cattle in the mid 19th century who seemed to have the most impact on the current population. The bull 'Old Jock' and the cow 'Old Granny' who lived to be 35 years old (and was killed by lightning) both contributed a large portion of the genetics seen in breeding stock today.
here are over 100 million cattle in the US and anywhere from 62-75 percent of those are Angus. They are also prevalent in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand.
Cattle and Their Diseases Embracing Their History and Breeds, Crossing and Breeding, And Feeding and Management; With the Diseases to which They are Subject, ... And The Remedies Best Adapted to their Cure by Robert Jennings
History of Aberdeen-Angus cattle by James Macdonald, James Sinclair
Storey's Guide to Raising Beef Cattle: Health/Handling/Breeding by Heather Smith Thomas
North American Cattle-Ranching Frontiers: Origins, Diffusion, and Differentiation (Histories of the American Frontier) by Terry G. Jordan
History of Aberdeen-Angus Cattle by American Angus Association