Red Angus is Prominent and Growing in America’s Cowherds


by Tom Brink, RAAA CEO


BEEF magazine recently published the results of its Fall 2019 commercial cow-calf survey, documenting the use of major beef breeds. This information is unique within the industry since we don’t get to see a lot of well-executed surveys on the subject of breeds. The perspective it provides is illuminating. Breeds most favored by producers, as well as those likely to grow in the future, are clearly identified. Red Angus breeders should be pleased with the message it communicates, both in terms of the breed’s position in the marketplace today, and for the years ahead.


“Perhaps the most definitive take-away from the survey, though expected, is confirmation of the breadth and depth of breed concentration,” said Wes Ishmael, who summarized the overall survey results. The nation’s cowherd is predominantly British-breed based, with 72% being high-percentage British. Another 10% is best characterized as British x Continental. Thus, producers clearly favor a British-breed cowherd (either in whole or in part), which provides Red Angus with huge opportunity for participation in a very large number of U.S. cowherds.

Red Angus currently holds a 15% market share among cow-calf herds that are high-percentage or straight-bred British. That’s second only to Angus at 73%.


Key Point #1: American cow-calf producers favor a cowherd built upon British breed genetics. Red Angus has a strong foothold in these herds, plus lots of room for continued growth.


As for bull selection, Ishmael states that “Similar breed predominance also can be seen in current and expected bull selection, with 84% of respondents saying the breed makeup of bulls purchased most recently was Angus (55%), Hereford (16%) or Red Angus (13%). Likewise, respondents say the breed composition of the bulls they buy in the next three years will likely be Angus (58%), Hereford (20%) or Red Angus (19%).”


The interpretation here is that British-breed demand on the bull side is equally strong and is not going away. This could be due to marketability advantages for the steer portion of the calf crop, but is certainly also driven by the fact that 85% of producers, according to the survey, raise their own replacement heifers. 


It is also noteworthy that, when comparing recent bull purchases to intended future purchases, Red Angus jumps 6-percentage points (from 13% to 19%), which should bode well for Red Angus bull demand over the next several years.


Key Point #2: American cow-calf producers most actively buy and prefer British-breed bulls, and to a lesser degree, British-based hybrids. They intend to remain on the same path. BEEF survey data suggest that Red Angus bull demand has good growth potential during the next several years.


Final survey tidbits: 

  • Interestingly, survey respondents place disposition ahead of yearling weight performance. Disposition has become of greater importance as ranchers age and become less tolerant of cows with bad attitudes.
  • Only 22% of respondents say they plan to change the breed composition of their cow herd in the next five years. Of those, 54% plan to increase the percentage of British genetics. 
  • Eighteen percent say they changed the breed of bulls purchased in the last five years in order to participate in a specific value-added program. No doubt, some have gravitated toward Red Angus because of the well-known FCCP (yellow tag) program.

We encourage Red Angus breeders to take a few minutes to read Wes Ishmael’s entire summary of the BEEF magazine survey, which can be accessed here.