THE HISTORY OF RED ANGUS CATTLE AND ITS ASSOCIATION
In 1954, seven innovative breeders not only formed the Red Angus Association of America, but they also created the first performance breed registry in the United States. The first RAAA president, Waldo Forbes, Sr., summed up the vision that the founding members had for this breed:
"The policy of the (Red Angus) Association is to discourage the more artificial practices in purebred cattle production... and to place its faith instead in objective tests, consisting for the most part of comparisons within herds of factors of known economic importance and known heritability... By making this an integral part of the registration system, Red Angus breeders feel that even faster progress can be made toward the ultimate goal of more efficient beef production."
From the start, performance data was a requirement for registration of all cattle. The ultimate goal was to create a system to objectively evaluate and select cattle based on traits of economic importance.
The RAAA has long been noted for its farsighted vision of beef production. By having a maverick attitude, the RAAA was able to adopt philosophies and technologies that were considered to be too risky or unconventional by other associations. Some of these visionary policies passed and used by the RAAA are:
A Leader in the Performance Movement
The scientific community was still deciding on whether or not to use the 205 day calendar for weaning weight adjustments when the RAAA decided to build a "performance registry". And today, Red Angus breeders find it to be second nature to collect and turn in weaning weights, while very few other associations require performance data as a criteria for registration even though the value and necessity of performance data has been clearly demonstrated.
A Leader in Open A.I.
Artificial Insemination has proven to be one of the most powerful tools in the beef industry's genetic progress. While most breed associations enforced strict regulations that made this technology impractical for breeders until the 1970's, the RAAA made sure that A.I. was open and unrestricted within the Red Angus breed from the start so its breeders could take advantage.
A Leader in Performance Data in the Show Ring
While many breeds recently just started using objective date in the show ring (1990's), Red Angus held its first "performance" show in 1956. And while Red Angus is not known as a "show" breed, the Association sponsors a National Show each year with it being ran the same as it was in 1956, with the judge being provided all pertinent objective information such as EPDs.
A Leader in the Promotion of Crossbreeding
As early as 1961, the RAAA developed a pamphlet promoting crossbreeding. This was approximately ten years prior to the industry even starting to accept crossbreeding as a tool for commercial cow/calf production. In 1970, Red Angus continued its industry leadership by starting and promoting an F-1 program. 1999 marked another first as the RAAA successfully spearheaded a joint-breed promotion extolling the advantages of heterosis.
A Leader in Offering an Open Registry
In 1980, the RAAA broke ranks from the other British breeds by instituting a category registration system. This far sighted program still kept the 100%, Category 1-A cattle separated, but it additionally allowed breeders to develop purebred, Category 1-B cattle through a process of breeding-up. Furthermore, by instituting a Category II and III, the Association is able to maintain a performance registry for foundation animals and composites.
A Leader in Focusing on Commercial Customers
Red Angus has always prided itself as the first breed that focused its primary attention on customers -- the commercial cow/calf producers of the United States. In keeping with this focus, the American Red Angus Magazine is sent to all Red Angus bull customers. The Association also started a Commercial Marketing Program in 1994. Believed to be the second such program in the industry, it offers a wide range of services designed to enhance the profitability of producers utilizing Red Angus genetics in their commercial operations.
A Leader in Total Herd Reporting
In the tradition of being the true "performance breed", in 1995 the Association again broke ranks with the other breed associations when they implemented an inventory based fee structure and reporting system. Total Herd Reporting (THR) requires the production of every registered Red Angus female to be accounted for every year, as well as the performance of every Red Angus calf raised through weaning. If a cow and her calf are not accounted for in a given year, the cow is removed from the registry.
A Leader in Evaluating Fertility
The RAAA has led the industry with its commitment to objectively describing traits related to reproduction and sustained fertility. The first of this new class of EPDs was Red Angus' Stayability estimate. This EPD ranks animals with regard to the probability their daughters will continue producing in the herd past six years of age. (The development of a new Heifer Pregnancy EPD expands Red Angus' commitment in this vital area.)
A Leader in Genotypic Certification
In 1995, Red Angus unveiled the industry's first genotypic and source identified program, the Feeder Calf Certification Program (FCCP). The innovative FCCP has the honor of being the first program of its kind to be USDA Process Verified, certifying a calf's link to the "Angus" gene pool.
A Leader in Value Based Marketing
Red Angus has been at the forefront of the industry's efforts to move toward a system of value based marketing. The Association is believed to be the first breed association to offer its members and commercial customers a value-based pricing grid with a major packing company.
Leadership Has Made A Difference
Red Angus are Angus; yet the Red Angus breeders' history of leadership and innovation have made a profound difference in the red strain. They have avoided the short-term fads that have negatively affected so many other breeds. Coupled with the long-term commercial focus of the membership, the Red Angus gene pool also offers many advantages. Red Angus provides a consistent source of traditional Angus traits, including carcass quality, maternal characteristics, calving ease, and moderate size. In addition, Red Angus offers uniformity, good disposition, and an outstanding appetite.
Because of the vision of a performance breed of cattle from the founding members, Red Angus cattle are unparalleled today. Due to the breed's growing reputation there has been an increase in demand for breeding stock from countries such as South Africa, Australia, and South America. Because of this demand, Red Angus has become the United States beef breed leader in semen exports. The number of Red Angus cattle in the United States tripled from the 1980's through the mid-1990's, and those numbers continue to grow. In Canada, where red and black Angus cattle are registered together, the number of red cattle registered is approximately the same as black cattle.
The future for the Red Angus breed is bright indeed. Due to the numerous natural advantages with which the Red Angus breed is endowed and its heritage and continued philosophy, it appears that a great breed is coming into its own. As Joseph Givhan, a founding RAAA member, shared in his early publication on the breed's history...
"Here is a noble breed that will never die, destined to increase and flourish. It shall cover the grazing lands of the earth and forever enrich the husbandry of mankind."
All material used here is from Red Angus Association of America ,
4201 I-35 North, Denton, Texas 76207-7443, Phone: (940) 387-3502.