Angus cattle

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Angus Cattle
A black angus cattle seen here side on
A black angus cattle seen here side on
Conservation status Least Concern
Other names Aberdeen Angus


Country of origin Scotland
Distribution Europe and Australasia
Use Beef
Weight Male: 850 kg
  Female: 550 kg
Coat Black or Red
Horn status Polled
Bos (primigenius) taurus
"Black Angus" redirects here. For the steakhouse, see Black Angus Steakhouse.

Angus cattle (Aberdeen Angus) are a breed of cattle commonly used in beef production. They were developed from cattle native to the counties of Aberdeenshire and Angus in Scotland,[1] and are known as Aberdeen Angus in most parts of the world.

They are naturally polled (do not have horns) and solid black or red, although 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 US they are regarded as two separate breeds — Red Angus and Black Angus. Black Angus is the most common beef breed of cattle in the US, with 324,266 animals registered in 2005.[3][4] In 2014, British Cattle Movement Service named Angus the UK's most popular native beef breed, and the second most popular beef breed overall.[5]



Aberdeen angus cattle have been recorded in Scotland since at least the 16th century in North Eastern Scotland.[6] 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 as the father of the breed today.[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 England, Scotland and Ireland in the middle of the 20th century.[7]


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]

United States[edit]

On May 17, 1873, George Grant brought four Angus bulls, without any cows, to Victoria, Kansas. These were particularly unusual as the normal American cattle consisted of Shorthorns and Longhorns. These bulls were used only in crossbreeding. However, the farmers noticed the qualities of these bulls and afterwards, many more cattle, of both sexes, were imported.[9]

On November 21 1883, the American Aberdeen Angus Association was founded in Chicago, Illinois.[10] The first herd book was published on March 1885.[9] At this time both red and black animals were registered without distinction. However, in 1917 the Association barred the registering of red and other colored animals in an effort to promote a solid black breed.[11]


Because of their native environment, the cattle are very hardy and can survive the winter. Cows typically weigh 550 kilogrammes and bulls weigh 850 kilograms.[12] 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.[13] The United States do not accept Red Angus cattle into herd books, but the UK and Canada do.

The cattle have a large muscle content and are regarded as medium sized. The meat is very popular in Japan for its marbling qualities.[14]

Mixed herd of Black and Red Angus

Genetic disorders[edit]

Between 2008 and 2010, The American Angus Association reported several recessive genetic disorders in Angus cattle. It has been shown that a minority of Angus cattle can carry osteoporosis.[15] A further defect called notomelia, a form of polymelia ("many legs") was reported in the Angus breed in 2010.[16] However, all animal species can carry these recessive inheritable defects.

The four recessive defects can affect calves. A "recessive defect" is where both parents carry a recessive gene that will affect the calf. One in four will show the defect even with both parents carrying 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; Neuropathic Hydrocephalus (NH) sometimes known as water head; Contractural Arachnodactyly (CA) formerly referred to by the name of “Fawn Calf Syndrome;" and dwarfism. Both parents need to carry the genes for a calf to be affected with one of these disorders.[17][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.


The main use of Angus cattle is as beef cattle. The beef can be marketed as superior due to the marbled appearance it has. This has led to many markets, including Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom to adopt it into the mainstream.[14] Angus cattle can also be use in crossbreeding to reduce the likelihood of dystocia (difficult calving) and because of their dominant polled gene, they can be used to crossbreed to created polled calves.[21]

Angus calf with its mother


During the later part of 2003 and the early part of 2004, the American fast food industry ran a public relations campaign to promote the supposedly superior quality of Angus beef. However, the first of these campaigns was run by Back Yard Burger in 2002.[22] Beginning in 2006, McDonalds 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[23] and began selling the burger made with Angus beef in all US locations in July 2009.[24] In response to the test in the US, McDonalds Australia began selling two Angus burgers, the Grand Angus and the Mighty Angus, using Australian-bred Angus, in their restaurants.[25]

The American Angus Association created the "Certified Angus Beef" (CAB) standard in 1978. The idea behind 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, to be labeled "Certified Angus Beef" by USDA Graders:[26]

  • Modest or higher degree of marbling
  • Medium or fine marbling texture
  • "A" maturity
  • 10 to 16 square-inch ribeye area
  • Less than 1,000-pound hot carcass weight
  • Less than 1-inch fat thickness
  • Moderately thick or thicker muscling
  • No hump on the neck exceeding 5 cm (2")
  • Practically free of capillary rupture
  • No dark cutting characteristics
  • Usually black or red in color

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica 15th Ed. Vol.10 p.1280
  2. ^ a b "Oklahoma State University Red Angus breed profile". 
  3. ^ American Angus Association. "Angus - FAQs". Archived from the original on 24 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-23. [dead link]
  4. ^ Virginia Cooperative Extension. "Beef Cattle Breed Associations Seedstock List". VirginiaTech. Archived from the original on September 2, 2006. Retrieved 2006-09-23. 
  5. ^ "Aberdeen-Angus breed increases influence on British Beef industry" (16 March 2015). Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society. Retrieved 29 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Britannic Rare Breeds - Angus Cattle". Britannic Rare Breeds. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  7. ^ "The Cattle Site - Angus Breeds". The Cattle Site. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b Burke, Tom; Kurt Schaff; Rance Long (2004) [2004]. "The Birth of the Breed". Angus Legends: Volume 1. p. 17. 
  10. ^ American Angus Association. "Angus History". Archived from the original on 24 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  11. ^ Red Angus Association of America. "History of Red Angus". Archived from the original on 24 September 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-02. 
  12. ^ "RBST Angus Cattle". Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  13. ^ "Encyclopaedia Britannica - Cattle Breeds". Encyclopaedia Brittanica. Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  14. ^ a b "New South Wales Agriculture - Angus cattle". Retrieved 25 June 2015. 
  15. ^ "Whitlock Heritable Birth Defects in Cattle" (PDF). 
  16. ^ "Denholm L et al(2010) Polymelia (supernumerary limbs) in Angus calves". 
  17. ^ "Denholm L Congenital contractural arachnodactyly (‘fawn calf syndrome’) in Angus cattle" (PDF). NSW Department of Trade and Investment PrimeFact 1015 May 2010. 
  18. ^ Vidler, Adam, Defects on rise as gene pool drains, p. 63, The Land, Rural Press, North Richmond, NSW
  19. ^ Another genetic defect affects Angus cattle Retrieved on 29 May
  20. ^ "American Angus Association". Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  21. ^ "Angus". Cattle Today. Archived from the original on 17 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-29. 
  22. ^ "Back Yard Burgers Announces 40-Unit Development Agreement With Black Angus Burgers, Inc.". [dead link]
  23. ^ Weston, Nicole (2007-03-08). "New Angus Third-Pounders at McDonald's". Slashfood. Retrieved 2012-05-14. 
  24. ^ "McDonald's to debut $4 Angus burger". MSNBC / The Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  25. ^ "angus beef". McDonald's Australia. 
  26. ^ "Angus FAQs". American Angus Association. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 

External links[edit]

Breed associations[edit]

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




New Zealand: