Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Red Angus cattle

One reader commented that she had never heard of the Red Angus breed.  Actually, the only way Red Angus cattle differ from Black Angus is their color.  From the link I just gave, I am copying this information: 
 The Origin of "Angus"
Like most modern American beef breeds, the Red Angus breed had its beginning in Europe. In the eighth-century, according to some authorities, hardy Norsemen raiding the coasts of England and Scotland brought with them a small, dun-colored hornless cattle which interbred with black native Celtic cattle of inland Scotland, which had upright horns. A naturally polled black breed was produced, which roughly corresponded to the black Aberdeen Angus of today, although it was a considerably smaller-bodied animal. The polled characteristic was very slow to spread inland, and for almost a thousand years was confined principally to the coastal areas of England and Scotland.
Eric L.C. Pentecost, the noted English breeder of Red Angus cattle, offers a specific and logical explanation for the introduction of the red coloration into the Aberdeen Angus breed. In the eighteenth century, the black Scottish cattle were too light to provide sufficiently large draught oxen, so larger English longhorns, predominantly red in color, were brought in and crossed with the black native polled breed. The resultant offspring were all black polled animals, since black is a dominant color, and red a recessive one. However, all carried the red gene. Subsequent interbreeding produced an average of one red calf in four, in accordance with Mendel’s law of heredity.
Angus -Red or Black
Early in the development of the Aberdeen Angus, Hugh Watson of Keillor, Scotland arbitrarily decided that black was the proper color for the breed, and thereby started a fashion. He might well have chosen red instead. Leon J. Cole and Sara V. H. Jones of the University of Wisconsin Agricultural Experiment Station published a pamphlet in 1920 on "The Occurrence of Red Calves in Black Breeds of Cattle" which contained this pertinent paragraph:
"One more point should be emphasized, namely that the red individuals appearing in such stock (Aberdeen Angus)...are just as truly 'purebred' as their black relatives, and there is no reason why, in all respects save color, they should not be fully as valuable. The fact that they are discarded while the blacks are retained is simply due to the turn of fortune that black rather than red became established fashion for the Aberdeen Angus breed. Had red been the chosen color, there would never have been any trouble with the appearance of blacks as off-color individuals, since red-to-red breeds true."
The preceding paragraph, written more than three decades prior to the establishment of the Red Angus Association of America, shows a true appreciation of the basic strengths of the reds. This is emphasized by the current revival and popularity of the red strain of Aberdeen Angus throughout the world.

Rebirth of "Red" Angus
Various cattlemen throughout the United States understood the outstanding values of the reds. In 1945, the first of these cattlemen started selecting and breeding reds cropped from the best black Aberdeen Angus herds in America. By 1954, a sufficient number of herds had been established to form a breeder’s organization known as the "Red Angus Association of America."
With a temporary headquarters in Sheridan, Wyoming, seven innovative cattle breeders created the Red Angus Association as the first performance breed registry in the United States. In August of 1954, the Association’s first president, Waldo Forbes, Sr., summed-up this vision of the founding members:

"The policy of the (Red Angus) Association is to discourage the more artificial practices in purebred cattle production... and to place its faith instead in objective tests, consisting for the most part of comparisons within herds of factors of known economic importance and known heritability... By making this an integral part of the registration system, Red Angus breeders feel that even faster progress can be made toward the ultimate goal of more efficient beef production."
From the beginning, performance data was required for registration for all cattle. The ultimate goal was to initiate a system to objectively evaluate and select cattle based on traits of economic importance.

Because I have Jerseys, I prefer Angus bulls to breed my cows, given the choice.  Angus calves tend to have a lower birth weight, so tiny Jersey cows are not so likely to have problems calving.  

1 comment:

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It certainly sounds like you have made a good choice. Interesting how the breed developed. Thanks for sharing the history.