Red Angus Cattle: Guide, Info & Facts

Red Angus cattle are known to have many upsides and little downsides. They have early sexual maturation, are resilient to many different climates, and can be slaughtered early to produce a healthy carcass weight. There is no difference between red and black Augus.

Red Angus cattle have risen over the years from a history of alienation from their black Angus cattle relatives to become the number one exporter of semen, outdoing all other US beef cattle breeds.

Here’s the sweet-turned-sour-turned-sweet history of Red Angus cows and bulls, whose influence in the world beef industry changed for the better since 1954, thanks to the undying efforts of seven cattle producers.

Where Do Red Angus Cattle Come From?

The Red Angus breed of cattle shares a similar origin with black Angus cattle.

The small, polled, and dun-colored cattle brought from Europe to Scotland and England by the Norsemen or Vikings were interbred with local black upright-horned Celtic cattle to bear the ancestors of modern black Aberdeen Angus cows and bulls. These were rather small-bodied animals.

The Aberdeen Angus cattle are named for the counties of Aberdeen and Angus in northern Scotland, where they were developed.

The red coloration in Red Angus bulls and cows developed as a recessive gene that produced “Angus with a red strain”.

Out of the need to increase the draft power of small-bodied cattle in Europe, larger English Longhorns, chiefly red, were brought in and crossbred with the black native cattle to bear all-black polled cows.

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The black color reigned because it was dominant, while the red color was caused by a recessive gene, which was present in all the resultant crossbred cattle. Red Angus calves were born as interbreeding continued.

The first ever Angus herdbook was established in 1862 and recorded both black and red Aberdeen Angus cattle before Hugh Watson of Scotland, heralded as the father of the Aberdeen Angus breed, selected black as the true color of the Aberdeen Angus cattle breed. His most prominent bull was black-colored.

The Aberdeen Angus breed was introduced to the US in the 1870s, featuring both black and red Angus animals, but the blacks were more than the reds.

In 1883, the American Aberdeen Angus Breeders’ Association was born, which published the first American Angus herdbooks in 1886 and 1888. The two herdbooks featured both red and black Angus bulls and cows.

However, in 1917, the association alienated the red and other colors of the Aberdeen Angus breed and maintained its registry with the black Angus cattle only. This alienation dismantled the world for Red Angus cows and bulls and led to declining demand and production.

To counter the effects of the alienation, some US cattlemen, in 1945, began breeding Red Angus cattle produced from black Angus cattle.

In 1954, seven passionate cattle breeders established the Red Angus Association of America (RAAA). They opened a performance-based registry that opposed the alienation of Red Angus cattle by the American Aberdeen Angus Association and, by extension, Hugh Watson.

The ingenious processes of the Red Angus Association of America led to the resurgence of the Red Angus breed and the eventual occupation of its rightfully deserved throne as the leading American beef breed in worldwide semen exports.

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Today, Red Angus cows are found in the US, Canada, South America, Australia, the UK, England, Scotland, and South Africa.

Modern Red Angus cattle are mainly used for beef production because their milk production levels are low compared to prolific dairy cattle like Holsteins.

Red Angus Breed Characteristics

The Red Angus breed exhibits outstanding characteristics such as:

Official Breed NameRed Angus
OriginEurope and Scotland
AppearanceRed color of the coat
Bronze-pigmented skin
Good disposition, though the bulls can exhibit dangerous aggressiveness
Moderate size with a beefy carcass
Calf Weight61 pounds
Mature Cow Weight1,200-1,400 pounds
Mature Cow Height44-50 inches
Mature Bull Weight1,800-2,000 pounds
Mature Bull Heightup to 53 inches
Ready To Breed12 months
Gestation Period9 months
First Calvings21 months
Time to Slaughter2 years
Carcass Weight575 pounds (if butchered at 14 months of age)
Expected Lifespan12-25 years
Productive Lifespan6+ years for reproduction, 4+ years for milk production
Known ForExcellent meat production
Early sexual maturity, with heifers calving down for the first time at less than 2 years of life
Rapid growth and early maturation, marked by high weaning weights
High fertility
Reproductive longevity
Large scrotal size
Hardiness
Both males and females are naturally polled
Small upward pointed ears
Good maternal abilities
Large hooves
Uniformity and continuity of red color
Intramuscular marbling, hence high-quality beef
WeaknessesThey can get angry quite easily, especially the bulls
One person isn’t enough to handle an upset cow
Milk production is lower than most other breeds
ClimateAdaptability to varying climates and has higher heat tolerance than black Angus cattle
Resistance to sun-burned udders and cancer eye because of the bronze skin pigmentation
A lone red angus cow standing on field

What Is So Special About Red Angus Cattle?

Red Angus cattle are known for their high-quality meat, hardiness, stayability, fast growth and maturity, gentleness, high fertility, and heat tolerance.

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The color of Red Angus cows and bulls helps with hardiness as they are easily adaptable to all climates, either hot or cold.

The red coat absorbs less heat than the black coat of their black Angus counterparts, making them more heat tolerant and able to survive in hot regions.

In 1995, the ever-innovative Red Angus Association of America developed the stayability performance index to measure a female’s reproductive longevity in a herd, marked as at least 6 years.

Although calves of the Red Angus breed are born small, they grow rapidly, achieve high feeder cattle weights, and proceed to early maturity, with heifers freshening for the first time before they are 2 years of age.

Red Angus cattle are also highly fertile. The RAAA expects every sound and healthy female red to give birth to a calf yearly.

Red Angus bulls are also highly fertile and famed for their large scrotal size, which promotes the production of semen in copious amounts. The high semen production explains the lead the US bulls take in exporting Red Angus genetics.

Red Angus cattle are bred with other breeds to add to these other breeds qualities such as improved carcass quality, polled gene propagation, earlier maturation, rapid growth, increased heterosis, and increased pigmentation.

Cattle breeds like Charolais, Hereford, Shorthorns, Brahman, Santa Gertrudis, and Holstein have been bred with purebred Red Angus or Red Angus-influenced breeds. The most common crosses include:

  • LimFlex – Red Angus x Limousin
  • Regus – Red Angus x Hereford
  • The Balancer – Red Angus x Gelbvieh
  • RX3 – Red Angus x Hereford x Holstein

Why Should I Raise Red Angus Cattle On My Farm?

Here are some reasons you should raise Red Angus cows and bulls on your farm:

  • The red color of Red Angus cattle makes marketing easier because most cows in the world are red, so most people easily trust a red-colored cow.
  • They make it significantly easier to produce your own organically grown beef.
  • Crossbreeding Red Angus cattle with other breeds can increase your farm’s profitability by improving carcass quality and early maturation.
  • Red Angus cattle breed true, meaning they pass their red color to their calves when bred with other Red Angus cattle. This is possible because the cattle do not have diluter genes, which cause the production of grays when crossbreeding black Angus cattle.
  • You’ll be part of a revolutionary story in the world cattle industry—a revolution that continues the advancement of the once alienated Red Angus cattle.
  • The high fertility rate of Red Angus females means you’ll have more animals in your herd, with each cow calving down every year to assure you of continued profits from calf and beef sales.
  • Red Angus cattle grow and mature fast, reaching beef weight faster.

You can practice healthy breeding and raise sires to produce Red Angus semen for sale.

Alex

Alex grew up in a rural area with chickens, cows, goats, and rabbits. He has always enjoyed waking up at 6 am to tend to his flock and vegetable garden. He bought his first cow at 25 and named her "104". In 2021, he set up an aquarium and now spends his lazy time watching his fish. He is happiest watching small animals and plants grow big, not to mention writing to share his farm-life experiences.

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