When George Grant transported four Angus bulls from Scotland to the middle of the Kansas prairie in 1873, they were part of the Scotsman’s dream to found a colony of wealthy, stock-raising British families. Grant died five years later, and many of the settlers at his Victoria, Kan., colony later returned to their homeland. However, these four Angus bulls made a lasting impression in the U.S. cattle industry.
In the fall of 1873 at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition, the two bulls were exhibited and considered to be “freaks” because of their polled heads and solid black color — opposite of Shorthorns, the dominant breed at the time. Grant, a forward thinker, crossed the bulls with native Texas longhorn cows, producing a large number of hornless black calves that survived well on the winter range. The Angus crosses wintered better and weighed more the next spring, the first demonstration of the breed’s value in their new homeland.
The first great herds of Angus beef cattle in America were built up by purchasing stock directly from Scotland. Twelve hundred cattle alone were imported, mostly to the Midwest, in a period of explosive growth between 1878 and 1883. Over the next quarter of a century these early owners, in turn, helped start other herds by breeding, showing and selling their registered stock.
Angus cow’s have strong maternal instincts, superior milking ability and high fertility rates. Their docility, coupled with the breed’s moderate size and fleshing ability, makes them ideal mothers. Angus females also mature early, breed back quickly and have comparatively short gestation periods.
The breed contributes low birth weights, and through consistent genetic improvement, the breed complements its ease of calving with vigorous growth from birth to harvest. Their ability to produce a high-quality carcass, with an increased marbling percentage, puts Angus beef as the top choice for consumers across the globe.
The Angus breed contains several physical traits that help save producers time and money. Angus cattle are naturally polled and their dark-pigmented skin absorbs sunlight. The black hide protects against cancer eye, a condition that affects other breeds, and protects against sunburned or snow-burned udders common to light-skinned breeds in certain parts of the country.
The proof is in the genetics. Angus cattle are known for top traits that can make a real difference in cow herd profitability, including calving ease, growth and carcass quality.
Breed Registry and Programs
The American Aberdeen-Angus Breeders’ Association was founded in Chicago, Ill. on Nov. 21, 1883, with 60 members. The name shortened in the 1950s to the American Angus Association, and the national headquarters was located in Saint Joseph, MO in 1956 where it remains today.
Commitment to performance data has increasingly strengthened the power of Angus genetics over the years. The American Angus Association is home to the industry’s largest beef cattle registry and database, which offers reliable tools for producers looking to improve their herds. And best of all — it’s built on years of records submitted by committed Angus breeders.
Throughout the year, producers submit herd information to the Association, such as breeding, calving, weaning and yearling performance records, as well as carcass and ultrasound data. These records — coupled with ancestral data and other performance measures — help set benchmarks that producers can use to better predict performance of future progeny and make informed decisions for their herds.
When first introduced, expected progeny differences (EPDs) changed the way producers evaluated cattle. That strength continues today, as EPDs continue to incorporate genomic data. These genomic-enhanced EPDs allow users of all herd sizes to compare animals in the Association’s database, at any age, and give breeders the information they need to improve their herds.
In addition to EPDs, $Values offer a simplified approach to genetic selection. These multi-trait selection indexes, expressed in dollars per head, combine multiple traits into one value and measure trade-offs for producers based on real-world economics. They are calculated using EPDs, industry-based economic values and other factors to tie genetic and economic values together.
Registered Angus breeders who are serious about making genetic herd improvements can participate in the Angus Herd Improvement Records (AHIR) program. AHIR records include weights and measures, as well as carcass and ultrasound data. The submitted records are used in the Angus National Cattle Evaluation, provided to Association members and their customers, and used to make informed breeding decisions.
Beef Record Services (BRS) is designed for commercial cattlemen who wish to record and submit performance data on cow herds and calf crops, regardless of breed composition. Records are summarized to reflect adjusted measures and ratios that assist producers in evaluating within-herd data and working toward a high-quality, more marketable product.
Established in 2007, Angus Genetics Inc.® (AGI), a subsidiary of the Association, was created to provide services to the beef industry that would assist in the genetic evaluation of traits of economic importance. AGI develops and promotes technology for use by the beef industry, including DNA technology. AGI has developed genomic-enhanced EPDs for the Angus breed that are updated on a weekly basis. AGI also conducts research and develops and utilizes new science and technology to benefit all beef producers.