The Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society in Scotland has produced a herd book every year since 1862, recording the parentage of every Angus animal born that year, thus producing a record of Angus since the beginning of the breed.
These were the unique animals that populated the world, from the frozen North of Canada to the jungles of South America in the late 19th century. The phenotype of the Angus was radically altered in the 1970s with the introduction of North American Angus, which had been infused with other breeds of cattle. These original Angus are now recognised by the Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) in the UK as the "Native Angus®”, and the difference from the modern Angus is marked by an annotation of “Native Bred” being on the animal’s pedigree and by inclusion in the specially allocated section in the more modern Angus herd books.
In 1967 there were 98 different Native cow families, but by 1995 there were only 9 families with no imported bloodlines left in existence. The RBST recognised this by placing the Native Angus® on their Critical Watchlist (fewer than 150 registered breeding females) - one category before extinction. They are now (2017-2018 RBST Watchlist) on the Endangered Watchlist (150 to 250 registered breeding females).
In the early 1990s Mr Bob Anderson, long time Secretary of the Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society in Scotland and the leading authority on Angus bloodlines, recognised that the Native Angus® were on the brink of extinction and so compiled a list of the few remaining cows. Bob enlisted the help of Geordie and Julia Soutar to locate genuine Native Angus® animals and to maintain and increase their numbers.
It took over 10 years of diligent searching to acquire all 9 remaining cow families and begin the process of halting the decline. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust worked with Geordie and Julia in their mission to secure the future of Native Angus® cattle and released old semen from their archives for use with Native Angus® cattle.
In 2012 Geordie and Julia were invited to London to the RBST’s 40th AGM to meet Prince Charles, where it was publicly acknowledged that Geordie and Julia had succeeded in breeding Native Angus® cattle to such an extent that they could be removed from the RBST’s Critical Watchlist (although they still remain on the RBST’s Endangered Watchlist).
The historical and genetic significance of Native Angus® cattle is well documented and understood in the UK. However, worldwide demand for healthy, grass fed beef has led to these Native Angus® genetics once again being exported throughout the world, but this time from a base population which is still endangered.
To put their situation in context, with fewer than 250 registered breeding females Native Angus® cattle are at higher risk than Mountain Gorilla, Giant Panda and Black Rhino ...
Recognition of this precarious position has led to the formation of the Native Angus® Preservation Society.