The Angus breed took off after the First World War and by the time the society was founded in 1919 there were studs and commercial herd in every state.
But prices slipped soon afterwards and the breed struggled along until around 1927 when there was renewed interest in Angus cattle with imports from NZ, Canada and Scotland.
Colonel Harold Fletcher White of Bald Blair, Guyra, and Norman Forster (whose mother was a White) of Abington stud near Uralla were among the buyers of the first consignment of five bulls from the United Kingdom Angus Society in 1927.
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In January, 1944, Norman Forster reported the breed was entrenched with top studs in all states.
Two years later breed great Harry Williams started the Victoree stud in Victoria’s Gipplsand.
He held the first undercover on-property stud sale in 1949 and sent bulls to NZ, the first bulls to Japan and and first females to England and Scotland from Australia.
But Herefords and Shorthorns were the beef kings in the 1940s and 1950s with Angus considered the “poor man’s cattle”, which annoyed Williams.
Angus breeding flourished in the 1950s but the rising popularity of Bos indicus cattle in the Top End and the arrival of big European breeds like Limousin, Simmental and Charolais put a damper on things in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
Breeders had to look at the size of their cattle and the era of the “little black pigs” had passed.
The popularity of the breed soared in the early 1990s, driven by Japanese consumers’ liking for high-quality grain-fed beef and black cattle.
The old-time breeders had been proven right – Angus beef has a superior taste because of its ability to marble. Premium quality beef identified through grading and branding now attracts premium prices.
When the first Angus Herd Book was published by the society in 1922, there were 14 listed members from every state except South Australia and included 65 bulls and 313 cows.
At the end of 2017 there were 3590 registered Angus Australia members.
Old-time breeders ahead of the pack
Back in 1947 H. Gordon Munro, then owner of the acclaimed Booroomooka stud, Bingara, was urging the introduction of beef grading and branding on the local market.
He declared that when quality paid dividends in the beef industry, Angus breeders would be the big winners.
He was believed to be the first breeder to import a bull from the US, Bar Quality 2nd, in 1935.
Another leading breeder, Lin Sanderson, who formed the Wallah stud at Narrabri in 1934, urged the Australian beef industry to pursue premium export markets in 1947.
Phill and Gwen Collins, formed their Merrigrange stud in 1959 at Tennyson, Victoria. They were among the first major users of embryo transfer.