Aberdeen Angus has become a household name in the 21st Century. A few years back, in an attempt to impose a label of quality on their beef burgers, a popular restaurant began promoting the specific breed used in the production of their wares - and this was exactly what the world needed to convince them of the value of fast food. Subsequently, Angus beef has been advertised wherever possible as the "quality beef" and other restaurants have even changed their ingredients in order to stay competitive.
So what is so special about Aberdeen Angus and why is it important to know that there are other breeds of comparable quality out there?
Scotsman, Hugh Reid, is said to be the founder of the Angus breed after selecting black, hornless specimens (most notably Old Jock, his favourite bull, and Old Granny, a cow that lived until 35) from his herd in the mid 1800s. Most of today's Angus cattle were descended from these two animals - and produce consistently high yielding marble meat. The term 'marble meat' comes from the meat's appearance, the meat contains intramuscular fat, which can look like marble.
However, today it is important to be aware of other beef cattle pedigrees that can meet consumers' needs. Correspondingly livestock farmers insurance policies will reflect the value of the livestock. As a consequence, it may pay for farmers to be aware that the purchase and insurance of Angus cattle might cost more than a breed of equal quality.
Other cattle breeds available include the Devon (sometimes known as the South Devon) with a pedigree that is said to stretch back to prehistoric times. That said, it is only fairly recently that the Devon has been bred specifically for beef, with other types developed for milk. Like the Angus, in America the breed has been developed to be polled (hornless) - and produces excellent tender and tasty beef.
The French Limousin strain of cattle varies again - but proves that you don't need to travel too far in order to find another quality but quite different breed. The Limousin is said to have originated in France thousands of years ago as historians have pointed out the physical similarity between today's Limousin and the cattle drawn in ancient cave paintings. Today in France the breed is known as the "Butcher's Breed", and offers a high yield of beef with a low ratio of bone and fat.
Like the Devon and Limousin, there are many pedigree breeds originating from each country in each continent - and there are plenty for new beef farmers to choose from in addition to the Angus.