Certified Black Angus has become the go-to brand in groceries and steakhouses all over North America. Black Angus cattle carry the genes that make their meat well-marbled, tender, and flavorful.
Retail prices for Black Angus beef are about 10 percent higher for ground chuck. They are about 15 percent higher for steaks. And growers see a $20 to $50 premium on each head they can get accepted for the Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) brand.
What most consumers know about Angus cattle is that they are (usually) black and they taste great. Actually, it is now possible to certify Red Angus cattle in the program. But what growers need to know about Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) branded beef is that it takes more than the color of the hide to get the certification that brings the grower a premium price.
The American Angus Association states that cattle must meet all of the 10 following criteria that we are quoting here to be certified by USDA graders and labeled with the Certified Angus Beef® brand:
- Modest or higher marbling
- Medium to fine marbling texture
- “A” maturity (both lean & skeletal)
- 10- to 16-square-inch ribeye area
- 1,050 pounds hot carcass weight or less
- 1-inch or less fat thickness
- Superior muscling (limits light-muscled cattle)
- Practically free of capillary rupture
- No dark cutters
- No neck hump exceeding 2 inches
But how can any rancher know an animal will meet these specifications while it is still on the hoof?
That’s where Expected Progeny Differences, also known as EPDs, come in.
EPDs give growers a numerical prediction of how a given combination of sire and cow will perform.
EPDs capture differences in genetics across the breed. A bull’s EPD, for instance, will predict how much a calf it is used to sire will weigh at birth. An EPD will predict how much weight a calf will put on the year after it is weaned, or the likelihood an inseminated cow will successfully deliver a calf. EPDs are based on an animal’s ancestors, descendants, and relatives. EPDs also predict fat thickness and marbling.
The collection of genetic data in EDPs and be used to compute $Value, in terms of dollars per head. This value tells ranchers how much of a difference an EPD makes on their bottom line. It tells ranchers just how much bang for the buck they get from buying registered Angus cattle, with known genetics, over letting their animals mate at random.
So, what are the advantages of going with registered Angus cattle, with known EPDs and $Value?
Registered Angus cattle are big and healthy
Angus cattle grow big in cold climates. The average Angus cow weighs about 1200 pounds. The average Angus bull weighs 1900.
Both Black Angus and Red Angus cattle show an excellent meat-to-feed ratio. Black Angus cattle slightly edge out Red Angus cattle in the feed conversion department. But while the genetic traits that determine the efficiency of feed conversion are linked to coat color, high productivity isn’t all about the color of your cow. Your registered Angus dealer knows the genetics of the livestock they sell, and can sell you the best sire, or the best semen, to produce the fastest-growing calf.
Registered Angus cattle are always born polled
Dehorning takes time. It costs money. It places stress on the calves you have to put through the procedure. It invites the attention of animal rights activists who may want to drive up to your gate in their Tesla to protest the way you treat your cows, as if you weren’t more interested in their welfare than they are.
The fact is you don’t want animals that have horns in your barn or feedlot. The polled gene is dominant, so a calf only has to get it from one parent to be born without horns. But if you aren’t buying registered Angus cattle, then you are buying cattle with a questionable pedigree. There is always a chance that a future calf won’t be polled. Save yourself the trouble of dehorning and the risk of injury to your animals by buying registered Angus cattle.
Buying registered Angus cattle gives you data-driven results
Inbred Angus calves weigh less when they are born, weigh less when they are weaned, and weigh less when they are ready for market. The difference in the cost of acquisition of genetically selected Angus cattle is more than made up by higher price at market. But the benefits of buying registered Angus cattle don’t stop there.
The American Angus Association keeps records of the genetics of over 20 million animals. This database links pedigree and performance data to identify hundreds of desirable traits that can be identified through on-demand genetic testing. The American Angus Association releases new data weekly, enabling Harrer’s Lost Lake Ranch to consistently offer the best registered black angus cattle for sale.
Starting your herd with registered Angus cattle with known genetics is the best way to ensure sustainable profitability of your cattle operation.