Aberdeen Angus is a striking representative of the meat breed. These cows are widespread all over the world, they produce tasty, not too fatty meat, gain weight quickly, are distinguished by high productivity and unpretentious maintenance.
History of the breed
The ancestors of modern Aberdeen are the hornless cattle of British working breeds. It was traditionally bred on farms in Scotland and was appreciated for its large size, unpretentiousness, and endurance. From the end of the 18th century, experiments began to improve the breed, which lasted more than a hundred years. The animals bred as a result of selection were named Aberdeen Angus. They were distinguished by fast growth, good weight gain, high taste qualities of meat.
New cows became very popular in their native Scotland and gradually began to appear in other European countries. Farmers willingly bought calves to improve local breeds. The first herd of 8,000 animals was brought to the United States in 2873, and 10 years later, the Aberdeen Angus Cattle Breeders Association was officially registered in the country.
The Aberdeens are especially fond of in countries that specialize in beef cattle breeding and do not have decent aboriginal breeds. Angus are grown not only in the USA, but also in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Argentina. There are animals of this breed in Russia, where beef farming is just beginning to develop. Aberdeen is bred in the Central and Volga regions, Moscow and Orenburg regions, Krasnoyarsk, Stavropol, Altai Territories.
Aberdeen Angus are early maturing meat breeds. This assignment explains the appearance of adult animals. They are very large, overweight, with a wide body and relatively short legs. The neck is wide and short, the chest is deep. The head is small, with an expressive dryish muzzle and a convex forehead.
A distinctive feature of the Aberdeen is their well-developed musculature. The skeleton is very strong, capable of supporting the impressive weight of the animals. The skin is thin, shiny, evenly colored. Subcutaneous adipose tissue is well expressed. Most often there are individuals of a coal-black color, but different shades of brown are also acceptable. There are no white spots on the skin.
The sizes of adult animals are impressive. Their height at the withers ranges from 110 to 130 cm. The weight of Aberdeen bulls is from 800 to 850 kg, cows - from 550 to 600 kg.
Aberdeen Angus are bred for meat. It is distinguished by high palatability: rich taste, high protein content, moderate fat content. Bones make up no more than 17% of the carcass weight. With a special diet, the meat acquires a "marble" texture: muscle fibers alternate with layers of fat, which makes the product especially juicy and tasty. Aberdeen meat is widely used in cooking and makes excellent steaks. Large batches of products are regularly delivered to restaurants around the world.
A big plus of the breed: rapid growth and muscle gain. At birth, calves weigh about 28 kg, with proper nutrition and maintenance, they add 800 g per day. By the age of six months, bulls and heifers reach a weight of 160-180 kg.
Like other beef breeds, the Aberdeen do not yield well. An adult cow produces 1500-1700 liters of milk per year. Usually it is used to feed calves, which have an excellent appetite.
Pros and cons of Aberdeen Angus
Aberdeen Angus cows have many advantages over other cattle:
- Good acclimatization. Cows quickly adapt to weather conditions, tolerate cold and heat equally well, put up with too dry air or humidity. This feature provides ample opportunities for breeding the breed in different climatic zones.
- Early maturity. Animals of this breed mature very quickly. Females reach sexual maturity at 14-15 months, full-fledged offspring are born even in first-calf heifers.
- Fertility. Cows are distinguished by good fertility, often 2 calves are born in one calving. Young animals are viable, little susceptible to infections.
- Fast weight gain. Calves accumulate muscle mass well, and this feature is preserved at the genetic level and passed on to future generations.
- The possibility of crossing with representatives of other breeds. Aberdeen pass on their traits well, improving any herd. Bulls of this breed are distinguished by high productivity and can be used to rehabilitate and improve the local livestock.
- Good immunity. Thanks to competent selection, a breed has been formed that is resistant to genetic mutations, infectious and viral diseases.
- Quality meat with excellent taste. When properly fed, Aberdeen meat is very tender and juicy, perfect for steaks.
- Economic benefit. Angus do not need capital barns and complex care. They grow well on free pastures.
Despite the many advantages, the Aberdeen Angus cows have disadvantages that are well-known to every farmer:
- Weak legs. The muscles in cows are well developed, but too much weight is carried on the limbs. Overfed cows often fall and even break their legs. Careful control over diet and portion size will help to avoid such troubles.
- Complications during calving. Feature due to too large weight and large size of the fetus. During pregnancy, females need frequent veterinary check-ups; at the slightest difficulty at calving, urgent intervention is needed.
- Aggressiveness. A free-range herd gradually weaned from the owner, ceases to obey. Transferring animals to a stall for 1-2 months (usually in winter) will help prevent this behavior. Despite their freedom-loving and independent disposition, the Aberdeen are very caring parents. Females take care of the calves even as they grow up.
- The need for a good walk. In order for the Aberdeen meat to be tasty, and the cows themselves not to get fat, they need a spacious walk. Cows of this breed should not be kept in cramped stalls. The best option is large farms with their own lush meadows.
Subtleties of diet and care
The taste of meat depends on what the animal ate. Young calves are fed exclusively milk, if the mother does not have enough milk, milk is taken from other cows. Grown young animals need to be fed with grain and mixed fodder, necessarily including vitamins and mineral supplements in its composition. Portions are precisely dosed so that the animals do not get fat, but gain muscle mass well.
Adult animals should spend most of the day in pasture. Aberdeen graze in any weather, thanks to the supply of subcutaneous fat, they do not freeze and do not suffer from high humidity. In winter, fortified feed and cereals are added to the diet. The less grasses the cows eat, the more complementary foods they need. However, an excess of grain can impair the palatability of the meat.
The animals tolerate the cold well, but on hot summer days they need shaded areas to rest. Farmers set up light sheds right on the field. Cows need to drink a lot, the stalls need to be cleaned of manure in time and the straw bedding must be changed. This is especially important for pregnant cows and young animals.
Aberdeen meat: what it should be
Experts are sure: the best marbled meat can be obtained from castrated bulls. To improve taste and even distribution of thin layers of fat, farmers go to various tricks, for example, give the animals a special massage and restrict them in movement.
After slaughter, the meat is aged in a draft-free room: this is necessary for proper maturation. Muscle tissue becomes softer, more juicier and more flavorful. At the same time, the nutritional qualities of meat are increased.