The Angus breed of cattle has origins in the shires of Aberdeen, Kincardie and Angus in Scotland, dating back around 1000 years. Norsemen introduced dun coloured animals that interbred with the local black Celtic cattle. The modern version of these ancient breeds is thought to have been refined in the early 1800's by Hugh Watson. By the 1870's, they were being exported to America merely for cross-breeding uses. It wasn't until later that they were exported for the purpose of creating pure-bred herds in the United States.
Known mostly for its carcase value and high quality beef, the Angus breed is often cross-bred with other breeds to serve this purpose, as well as enhancing milking abilities. Angus cattle are also naturally polled so cross-breeding is practiced in efforts to dehorn other breeds. Angus cattle are also known for their white fat, impressive tendency to marble, bright red lean meat, fertility, and ease of calving till a late age.
Although small areas of white may appear, they are predominantly black or red in colour. Black is more common as red is the recessive gene. Some countries have separate herd books and associations for each colour of the Angus breed . They mature early; around 2 years old. They have the capacity to finish at both lighter and heavier weights. Angus cattle are also known to perform well in a range of demanding commercial conditions and are traded between domestic and international markets, particularly Japan.
Angus cattle first arrived in Australia in the 1820's when they were exported to Tasmania. It was not until the 1840's that they were brought to other parts of the country. Today, they are distributed throughout Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and Western Australia- especially in high rainfall areas. However, recent years have seen in an increase in popularity in parts of Northern Australia. In 2008, around 62,000 Angus calves registered with Angus Australia. Angus Australia provides a register and vast information service for breeders and interested parties of the Angus breed.
Other than colour, Red Angus cattle share all the characteristics of Angus.
These include high fertility, impressive milking abilities, hybrid vigour, superior carcase quality and good foraging abilities. Red Angus have been popular in cross-breeding programs using Santa Gertudis, Droughtmaster, Hereford and Brahman. Countries such as Brazil, Canada, Australia and South Africa have large populations of Red Angus Cattle.
Although Angus Australia records pedigree and performance of both black and red Angus, the Red Angus Society of Australia holds a separate register with separate data analayis and EBV's.
The red coat colour has advantages over darker breeds. Not only do lighter colours reflect the sun better, but buffalo flies are more attracted to black coats, so Red Angus get protection in this sense. Also, red is the most prominent coat colour of cattle breeds around the world. Consequently, Red Angus are viable candidates for many cross-breeding programs.
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