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ABERDEEN-ANGUS CATTLE

ABERDEEN-ANGUS CATTLE. Aberdeen-Angus cattle originated from the polled (hornless) black cattle in Scotland that were recorded there as early as 1523. Two types of polled black cattle-from the counties of Aberdeen and Angus in southeastern Scotland-were crossbred, and over the years the Aberdeen-Angus breed was developed. Hugh Watson of Keillor, Scotland, has been credited with the movement to upgrade and promote the breed, which was prized for being able to range well on grass and withstand the dramatic weather changes of the Scottish climate. The breed is characterized by its short black hair and large size-up to 2,000 pounds or more. The cattle are hornless, and in crossbreeding tend to produce polled offspring a majority of the time. Aberdeen-Angus cattle do well under range conditions and are generally hardy and disease-resistant. They are noted for producing choice beef, and the beef industry has touted Angus beef for its high quality and flavor. The first Angus cattle imported to the United States arrived in 1873; Scotsman George Grant brought in four bulls to his ranch in Victoria, Kansas. He showed two of them at the Kansas City Fair, and this generated much interest among ranchers, who wanted Aberdeen-Angus cattle for crossbreeding. Soon Aberdeen-Angus cattle had been introduced into Texas. About 1885 rancher John V. Farwell may have purchased, from the cattle firm of Findlay and Anderson in Illinois, the first Angus bull to arrive in Texas. He pastured it at Buffalo Springs and crossbred it with longhorn cattle. Beginning in the 1880s the XIT Ranch brought many Angus bulls to Dallam County to crossbreed with their longhorns. Hundreds of Angus cattle were shipped to Texas in the last decade of the 1800s, and Texas breeders were among the first to use the cattle for crossbreeding, as the calves produced were generally thicker and heavier at weaning time. Around 1900 there were very few purebred Aberdeen-Angus herds in Texas, but interest in the breed continued to increase. San Angelo rancher Sam H. Hill owned one of the largest early herds of purebred animals in the state, and Koss Berry of Meridian also had a large herd. In the twentieth century Aberdeen-Angus were favorites at stock shows, winning numerous grand championships. This breed has also done well in crossbreeding programs. During the first half of the twentieth century the Brangus breed, consisting of five-eighths Angus and three-eighths Brahman cattle, was developed, and in the early 1990s Texas was home to 36 percent of all registered Brangus. In 1938 the Texas Aberdeen-Angus Breeders' Association was organized, and by 1941 more than 250 breeders were in the association, with a listing of over 60,000 head of cattle. In the latter half of the twentieth century the breed continued to grow in popularity. In 1995 more than 1,200 members and registered breeders in Texas were affiliated with the American Angus Association. Its Texas office, the Texas Angus Association, was located in Fort Worth.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Cattleman, October 1941, June 1959. James Cox, Historical and Biographical Record of the Cattle Industry (2 vols., St. Louis: Woodward and Tiernan Printing, 1894, 1895; rpt., with an introduction by J. Frank Dobie, New York: Antiquarian, 1959).

Laurie E. Jasinski

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Handbook of Texas Online, Laurie E. Jasinski, "Aberdeen-angus Cattle," accessed February 13, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/atarj.

Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.