50 years ago the Red Angus breed was officially approved for registration in the Canadian Angus herdbook.

The Canadian Cattlemen's Association says the first record of Red Angus in Canada is the recorded importation of a red cow from Scotland in 1886.

Now the Red Angus breed accounts for more than 40 per cent of Canada's national Angus herd.

CEO of the Canadian Angus Association, Rob Smith, says back in the day, the red colour was seen as in impurity in Angus breeding.

"When the red ones would come along, I think that the original breeders thought that wasn't the indented purpose of the breed, they needed to be black because it was the only black cattle at those times, so they really didn't prefer the genetics."

Smith says, it wasn't until exotic breeds like Simmental, Charolais, and Limousine were introduced to Canada that there was a strong desire for red genetics to cross-bred with these exotic cattle.

In 1908, only female Red Angus cattle were allowed to be registered in the herdbook.

"They felt the way to propagate the red gene was to actually use those bulls, and they didn't want to propagate red genetics," Smith says. "So they thought, well a red female bred to a black bull because black is dominant, will always be a black offspring, so they felt they were not dismissing those red cattle."

On March 15, 1921, all Red Angus cattle were excluded from the Canadian Angus Herdbook.

I wasn't until April 3, 1968 Red Angus cattle were officially approved for registration in Canada.

Smith says, there is no difference between Red and Black Angus cattle other than the colour of their hair coat.

"We have done a lot of research over the years in terms of identifying whether there was carcass difference, a carcass quality difference between Red and Black Angus and there isn't. Whether one makes better mothers than the others, and there isn't. Really Angus is Angus."

The first Canadian-registered Angus bull was sold at auction in Canada by Mark Mackenzie in 1969.

The following year, the first Canadian-raised purebred Red Angus bull was sold at the Calgary Bull Sale for $1,800.

The Canadian Angus Association attributes some of the breeds success to a group 12 Red Angus cattle breeders from Alberta and Saskatchewan who formed the Canadian Red Angus Promotion Society to specifically promote the breed in 1972.

Smith says, the Association is happy their Board of Directors back in 1986 were able to recognize the important role Red Angus cattle would have in the beef industry.

"I think that the success of Red Angus in Canada has been a significant part of what has moved Angus into the number one position from a market share perspective nation-wide, both with commercial cattle production, as well as with purebred seed stock production because it increases the choice that people have."

He says, in the last 25 years they've seen a tremendous increase in the recognition of Angus cattle from a carcass quality and feedlot efficiency perspective.

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