Angus still leading the way

Angus leading the way after 100 years

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ADVERTISER CONTENT: Celebrating 100 years, the Angus Australia Society has evolved from having 14 members in 1918 to be a leader in the meat industry today.

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VALUABLE PROJECT: Christian Duff, Angus Australia, said the Angus Sire Benchmarking Program has many ongoing benefits to breeders and the society.

VALUABLE PROJECT: Christian Duff, Angus Australia, said the Angus Sire Benchmarking Program has many ongoing benefits to breeders and the society.

ADVERTISER CONTENT: There is no denying that the Angus Society of Australia has come a long way in 100 years and only appears to be getting stronger and stronger.

In 1922 when the first Herd Book was published, the society had only 14 listed members from every state except South Australia with 65 bulls and 313 cows.

By the end of 2018, numbers had grown to 3943 Angus Australia members and a total of 77,584 calves were registered.

Members range from honorary life members down to junior members, showing a vastly different society than that of its humble beginnings.

When the society was founded on August 12, 1918, nobody would have guessed that it would grow into the industry leader it is today.

Angus Australia marketing and communications manager Diana Wood said while the society has gone through large changes since it was founded as the Aberdeen-Angus Herd Book Society in Queensland more than 100 years ago, the breed itself has evolved over that period as well.

"Looking at the old photos, you can see the animals being produced have changed quite dramatically," Ms Wood said.

"We began with the smaller framed, dumpy-looking cattle which originated out of Scotland.

"Producers then moved to some extreme framed cattle and are now coming back to a more moderate type of animal.

"There have been a lot of changes to technology as well which is making those breeding decisions easier.

"Things like access to estimated breeding values via Breedplan, and now moving into the genomics world, is seeing people sourcing information that allows for the decision-making process to be made easier and also allows for people to identify those better genetics a lot earlier."

BREED EVOLUTION: The style of Angus cattle produced has changed dramatically over 100 years.

BREED EVOLUTION: The style of Angus cattle produced has changed dramatically over 100 years.

Ms Wood believes it is Angus breeders' commitment which has seen the breed move to the forefront of the meat industry.

"While Enid Fisher was responsible for turning the breed around by connecting studs to commercial breeders in the 1980s, it was also the foresight of a lot of our members," she said.

"Over the years they stuck to their guns and saw the value that Angus cattle could bring to the marketplace.

"We were very lucky our breeders were willing to embrace technology and use that in their decision-making process."

One relatively recent development in the society has been the integration of the Angus Sire Benchmarking Program.

The program involves the joining of 40 sires a year to 2000 Angus females, producing 25 progeny per sire using fixed time artificial insemination.

Angus Australia strategic projects manager Christian Duff said the program, now in its 10th year, had many ongoing benefits to breeders and the society.

"The program was primarily introduced to build a reference population of animals that are heavily recorded for hard-to-measure traits like abattoir carcase data, heifer fertility on a natural joining, retail beef yield information and other traits that aren't generally recorded in the industry," Mr Duff said.

"It is really there to look at the gaps in data and get those recorded.

"But also importantly, it makes sure all those animals have DNA recorded with them too.

"So they have the hard-to-measure traits recorded, plus they also have the genotypes attached to them for our genetic evaluation programs.

"The program is a huge collaborative effort all the way from operator cow herds on a commercial basis to members who put bulls in the program, to supply chain partners, co-funding from MLA and collaborative research partners like CSIRO, and the University of New England."

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