A Closer Look At Angus Cattle

By Art Gib

Angus Bull

Cattle are one of the animals that define America for several reasons. Our country's history wouldn't be complete without the cattle ranches and cowboys of the American West. A good portion of the U.S. economy is fueled by the cattle industry. In fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture, cattle and calf production in 2008 was valued at $34.9 billion dollars, while the consumption of beef that year was 27.3 billion pounds. Americans love their beef and as a result, the industry thrives.

The most common breed of beef for consumption is Angus. This breed is characterized by two types of naturally hornless (polled) cattle: Black and Red Angus, so named because of their coloration. In the United States, these are considered two separate breeds. Black Angus is the most popular breed in the U.S. The cattle are considered better beef cattle for several reasons. Angus cattle are hardy and adaptable with a high carcass yield of higher marbled meat. They have a lower fat content than some cattle. These cattle are used exclusively as beef cattle and are not used for milk for human consumption.

Angus cattle came the United States from Scotland. The breed was originally called Aberdeen Angus because the cows were native to the Aberdeen and Angus counties of Scotland. In fact, Scotsman Hugh Watson is often considered the founder of the breed. He selected the best animals for his herd and it is believed that most Angus cattle today can trace their origins back to Watson's cattle.

The cattle breed first came to the United States via Scotsman George Grant in 1873. He transported four Angus bulls to the Kansas prairie. Two of these bulls were exhibited at the Kansas City Livestock Exposition. Because the dominant breed of cattle at the time was the Shorthorn, many people considered the hornless cattle strange and unusual. By crossbreeding the Angus bulls with native Longhorns, Grant was able to produce cattle that wintered better than regular Angus. During 1878 through 1883, the popularity of Angus grew and thousands of cattle were transported to the United States directly from Scotland. The popularity of the hornless Angus has grown exponentially since the early years.

Today, because of the recent spotlight on the inhumane nature of some cattle farms, many natural cattle farms have come into existence. They feed their cattle only natural feed and grains and use no added hormones or antibiotics. Most of these natural farms use only Angus and Angus cross-bred beef. Today, because of the quality of beef, Angus is the most popular breed in the United States.

Niman Ranch farmers and ranchers raise livestock traditionally, humanely and sustainably to deliver the finest tasting organic meat in the world. Art Gib is a freelance writer.

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