An interview with American Angus Association
1. How many cattle do you have in your registration?
The American Angus Association is the nation’s largest beef breed organization, serving more than 25,000 members across the United States, Canada and several other countries. It’s home to an extensive breed registry that grows by nearly 300,000 animals each year. Today, the registry houses data on approximately 20 million animals.
2. What year did your breed start accepting/ registrations or building a database?
The American Aberdeen-Angus Breeders’ Association (name shortened in 1950s to American Angus Association) was founded in Chicago, Illinois, on Nov. 21, 1883, with 60 members. The growth of the Association has paralleled the success of the Angus breed in America.
3. Tell us about the origin of your breed and how it was transported into or developed in the U.S.
When George Grant transported four Angus bulls from Scotland to the middle of the Kansas Prairie in 1873, they were part of the Scotsman’s dream to found a colony of wealthy, stock-raising Britishers. Grant died five years later, and many of the settlers at his Victoria, Kansas, colony later returned to their homeland. However, these four Angus bulls, probably from the herd of George Brown of Westertown, Fochabers, Scotland, made a lasting impression on the U.S. cattle industry.
When two of the George Grant bulls were exhibited in the fall of 1873 at the Kansas City (Missouri) Livestock Exposition, some considered them “freaks” because of their polled (naturally hornless) heads and solid black color (Shorthorns were then the dominant breed.) Grant, a forward thinker, crossed the bulls with native Texas longhorn cows, producing a large number of hornless black calves that survived well on the winter range. The Angus crosses wintered better and weighed more the next spring, the first demonstration of the breed’s value in their new homeland.
The first great herds of Angus beef cattle in America were built up by purchasing stock directly from Scotland. Twelve hundred cattle alone were imported, mostly to the Midwest, in a period of explosive growth between 1878 and 1883. Over the next quarter of a century these early owners, in turn, helped start other herds by breeding, showing, and selling their registered stock.
4. What are two of the most unique and little known aspects of your breed?
When calving season arrives, Angus cows are proven to make the process easier. The breed contributes low birth weights, and the Association offers a host of tools that measure the genetic predictability of each registered animal. By analyzing calving ease direct expected progeny differences (EPDs) and birth weight records, producers can make selection decisions that improve calving on their specific operation.
The breed complements its calving ease with vigorous growth from birth to harvest. Their ability to produce a high-quality carcass, with increased marbling, puts Angus beef as the top choice for consumers.
5. What is your expectation for the next ten years for your breed? Physically, what are the assets breeders are striving for? As far as EPD’s, what kinds of goals are breeders setting? What are some of the genetic aspects they are focusing on the most?
As the nation’s cow herd begins to rebuild, the Association believes it is the opportune time for producers to re-focus their attention toward quality. Taking a close look at those high-performing animals and determining strategies to move the entire herd forward. Physically, that means cattle that are well-muscled, balanced and structurally sound in their feet and legs.
Utilizing performance data is central in this quality building process. Traditional EPD reports, including calving ease direct, weaning weight, residual average daily gain, and the dollar-value beef index, give Angus breeders valuable information when making those important herd decisions. When you couple that data with the high-density genomic tests, we are able to gather more performance insights that ever before.
Read more about Angus performance tools online (http://www.angus.org/AGI/default.aspx).
6. Tell us a little bit about your organization’s president:
Gordon Stucky, Kingman, Kan., will serve the American Angus Association as president of the Board of Directors in 2013-2014. Most recently, Stucky served as vice president and vice chairman of the board. He and his family own Stucky Ranch, west of Wichita, Kan.
Stucky’s roots in Kingman County trace back to 1937, when his parents established a diversified crop and livestock operation. Stucky began the transition to a registered Angus cattle herd in 1976. After graduating from Kansas State University with an animal science degree, he returned to the ranch to fulfill his lifelong commitment to the Angus breed. Stucky has four children: Jesse, Jacob, Elizabeth and Jonas..
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A pasture or lot with plenty of grass or bedding and windbreak is important when calving in the cold.