- The Angus breed is quite the popular choice in Ireland today, placing in the Top Three most common beef cattle breeds in the country. Also called Aberdeen Angus, the breed originates from Scotland in the regions of Angus and Aberdeenshire.
- They’re often nicknamed ‘hummlies’ or ‘doddies’ and astonishingly, historical records of the breed show that most Angus cattle today can actually be traced directly back to two original ancestors from the 1800s, owned by Hugh Watson.
- They generally come in black or red, and are naturally polled. This is important for farmers who would rather avoid the effort of dehorning their herd.
- Angus cows weigh an average of 550kg, while bulls can weigh about 850kg, with high muscle content. Their frame is classed as average-sized.
- The breed has an unusually strong reputation, with its beef often being hailed as superior. Although this is subjective, there is a strong culture in many fast-food chain restaurants that consider a “100% Angus” label as some kind of advantage, and they market it as such. This means that there is often a preconception among consumers about the standard of Angus beef, which can be a benefit to farmers of the breed.
- Angus cattle do well in Ireland, undoubtedly because of their neighbouring ancestral history in Scotland, just a stone’s throw away. Since Ireland and Scotland have quite similar weather patterns like heavy rainfall and no extreme temperature changes, Angus cattle can thrive here. The terrain in Ireland can vary from hard, rocky ground near mountainous areas, to moist boggy earth in some farmlands; Angus cattle can adapt very well to these kinds of conditions.
- They have been praised for their longevity, assisting farmers greatly in reducing replacement costs for their herd.
- In regions where predators may attack, or dangerous situations may arise, Angus dams are known to have excellent mothering abilities. This can be comforting to farmers who worry about the safety of their calves; however, it can sometimes be considered dangerous if dams are particularly aggressive towards visitors in the pasture.
- Bulls, in general, can always pose a threat to humans regardless of breed. However, Angus bulls have actually been singled out as more aggressive than Shorthorn or Hereford bulls. It may be a good idea to take a look at our article on Bull Safety to remind yourself of good protocol in dealing with these animals.
- Despite this, the breed has a generally good reputation for docility and compliancy.
- They have high fertility rates, and the calving process is known to be a smooth operation with little to no complications usually arising.
- These cattle are generally healthy, and common bovine illnesses like eye cancer are rare. However, the popularity of the breed is classed by some experts as detrimental, as they believe genetic problems are more likely to appear as numbers grow.
- Angus cattle finish earlier than other cattle of the same build, which can be good news depending on a farmer’s beef-production strategy, whereby they may wish to produce over a short, intense period of time.
- Angus cattle, and even Angus crosses, do very well and often thrive on forage-based production systems. Their carcasses provide high saleable beef yields, with a good ratio of lean meat against waste, like bone and fat. The meat also has good marbling, making for tender beef.
- The Angus breed can also work well for dairy farmers, with some farmers finding the shorter gestation period (around 1-2 weeks less than average continental breeds) of Angus-cross calves a good factor in maximising milk output. The ease of calving for dams mated with an Angus bull improves the milk yield in most cases.
There’s more information about where to source Angus cattle for your herd and further details on how to get in touch with other owners on the Irish Angus Cattle Society website.
For a more general overview of how to choose a breed that suits your farm, you can also read our article on Beef Cattle: Choosing the Right Breed for You.