Angus cattle, known as Aberdeen Angus in most parts of the world, 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.

Aberdeen Angus

Although little is known about the early origin of the cattle that later became known as the Aberdeen-Angus breed, it is thought that the improvement of the original stock found in the area began in the last half of the 18th century. The cattle found in northern Scotland were not of uniform color, and many of the cattle of the early days had varied color markings or broken color patterns. Many of the cattle were polled, but some few had horns. The characteristics we commonly call polled was often referred to in the old Scottish writings by the terms of “humble,” “doddies,” “humlies,” or “homyl.”

Because of their native environment, the cattle are very hardy and can survive the Scottish winters, which are typically harsh, with snowfall and storms. Cows typically weigh 550 kilograms (1,210 lb) and bulls weigh 850 kilograms (1,870 lb). Calves are usually born smaller than is acceptable for the market, so crossbreeding with dairy cattle is needed for veal production. 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. The United States do not accept Red Angus cattle into herd books, but the UK and Canada do. Except for their colour genes, there is no genetic difference between black and red Angus, but they are different breeds in the US.

Angus Aberdeen and calf

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

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

An Angus herd