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Cattle breed: Aberdeen Angus

Angus and historical notes

In many menus instead of beef it says Angus meat, it is easy to deduce that it is a bovine breed, but to better understand the qualities you need to know the bovine breed which appears to be, one of the most widespread in the world. The original name is Aberdeen Angus and is a breed originating from the county of Aberdeen in Scotland.

The first appearances date back to the 18th century and it was at the beginning of the 19th century that the first cattle settled on farms. Easy to recognise, with its red or black coat, the breed has no horn and short limbs. In Scotland they call it daddies hummes, respectively hornless and buzzed.

The size promises physicality and robustness which are demonstrated in the easy adaptability to rustic grazing and resistance to diseases, characteristics that have contributed to making the Aberdeen Angus widespread in various countries: USA, Argentina, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and Portugal.

Angus breed herd book

1862 marks an essential moment for the breed: the first stud book was established which defined the physical characteristics and aptitudes of the breed.

In 1879 the Breeders' Society met and defined the cornerstones of the Aberdeen Angus breed, defining the Scottish origin and specifying some key points relating to the birth of beef.

The credit for the cattle breed can be attributed to Hugh Watson who in 1808 in the county of Angus began to select cattle with similar qualities.

William McCombie in Aberdeenshire created a mandira with predominantly Keillor stock. Finally, the third breeder is Sir George Macpherson-Grant, who inherited the Ballindalloch Estate and dedicated himself to the complete improvement of the breed for over 50 years. History therefore defines the origin and birth of the breed in Scotland, without ifs or buts.

The spread of Angus in Italy

Italy entrusts the verification of the diffusion of the Aberdeen Angus cattle breed to Anaci - National Association of Italian Charolaise and Limousine breeders. The breeds that can be registered must have known genealogies, i.e. be the offspring of animals born to foreign animals in possession of a zootechnical certificate and a father qualified for breeding or derived from animals already registered in the breed and born in Italy.

To date, the spread appears to be present in 14 regions and 75 Angus farms and this is why it often appears on the menus of more or less starred restaurants.

Characteristics of Aberdeen Angus

To be regulated, the Aberdeen Angus breed of cattle is described as medium/small in stature, without horns and characterized by the "poled" gene - the main cause of the absence of horns. The small stature contrasts with the size which manages to reach quite significant weights: the female reaches 750 kg while the males reach almost 1100 kg.

A strong maternal attitude, good longevity combined with equally respectable fertility and extreme adaptability to grazing. Docile and manageable in temperament, the Aberdeen Angus cattle become the - almost - perfect leader for breeding.

Angus breed standard

The characteristics necessary to fully respect the breed are aesthetic elements that allow immediate recognition.

Among the requirements are:

  • Size medium small.
  • Cloak with skin of moderate thickness, black or red, albeit to a lesser extent.
  • Small and delicate head, large eyes and medium-sized ears covered in hair, no horns.
  • Front neck of medium length, well muscled in the male, broad shoulders and broad chest. Massive limbs with strong claws.
  • Line and croup are muscular, robust and of good length.
  • Hindquarters with fleshy thigh and wide hocks.

Among the defects that limit the breed as breeders are:

  • Color far from red and black
  • Clear mucous membranes of the skin
  • Bumps and horns present
  • Different pigmentation far from typical

The wandering Aberdeen Angus

Australia and the USA represent the largest areas in which the cattle breed has found a habitat suitable for its characteristics.

Angus and Australia

In 1824, 8 black Angus steers were unloaded in Hobart Town, Tasmania. Captain Patrick Wood was the first Australian to have the cattle breed on his ranch, from here onwards it is history that over 60 years has allowed the creation of a specific association in 1919: The Angus Society of Australia.

Savory to perfection, marbled to perfection and cooked on the grill, Australian Angus meat offers the best of itself, these are some of the characteristics that make it inviting and a fundamental ingredient for many preparations.

Angus and the USA

The eccentric textile merchant George Grant chose to add 4 Angus bulls from Scotland to his "goods" to take them to the Kansas prairies. An estate of almost 28 thousand hectares in which animals could move freely, Grant was very attached to his origins, he chose to keep the English bloodline intact, so much so that he sold part of his territory to only English families who emigrated to the USA.

However, the Angus breed did not immediately achieve the popularity it deserved, only in the 70s did some breeders notice these particular cattle without horns and with a completely black coat.

Grant chose to mix the breed with a Texas cow to make the Angus even more resistant and create the generation of American Angus.

Over time, popularity grew and the American Angus Association was created, intended to preserve the cattle breed.

Angus and marbling

The peculiar characteristics of this bovine breed in relation to taste are essentially two: marbling bordering on perfection and excellent yield in terms of cuts of meat. The perfect combo is represented by barbecue cooking, by the grill which in summer conveys a sense of unity thanks to reunions and fresh beers.

However, several other cuts of meat manage to hit the mark thanks to the marbling and the perfect calibration between meat and fat. Grazing in the semi-wild state is a fundamental element for creating perfect and excellent meat for various cooking methods; the possibility given to the animal to be free to graze, move and ruminate as it sees fit becomes a perfect trait d'union with traditional farming which , to the frenetic pace of industry they preferred to let nature dictate everything, and live a little more slowly.

Angus meat can be slaughtered from the 22nd month of life, and it seems that this element too is the result of a tradition that must be kept intact.