In the northeastern part of Scotland lie the four counties of
Aberdeen, Banff, Kincardine, and Angus. These counties touch the North Sea and all extend inland and have some high
or mountainous country. They have been favored through the ages with a temperate climate and good crops, although
the topography of the country is rough. Pastures do well in the area because of well-distributed rainfall. Plenty
of grass, plus a nearly ideal temperature for cattle production, has made the area very suitable for some of the
greatest improvement that has been made in our purebred breeds of cattle. The county of Angus was early noted for
production of potatoes, grain crops, and feed. This shire contains a fine expanse of highly cultivated land known
as Strathmore, which is one of the very fine valleys in that part of Scotland and which has become famous in the
history of the Aberdeen-Angus breed. The county of Aberdeen is the most productive agricultural region in Scotland
and depends largely upon crops and livestock for income. The fishing industry, however, is stressed along the
coastline. The tiny counties of Banff and Kincardine have long been known as livestock centers.
Northern Scotland, although in a more northern latitude than the United States,
has a more uniform temperature throughout the year. The Gulf Steam tempers the climate in the winter, and the
summers remain cooler than weather commonly experienced in the United States.
Foundation of the Breed
Two strains were used in the formation of what later became known as the Aberdeen-Angus breed of
cattle. In the county of Angus, cattle had existed for some time that were known as Angus doddies. MacDonald and
Sinclair quote the Rev. James Playfair as having written in 1797, "There are 1129 horned cattle of all ages and
sexes in the parish. I have no other name to them; but many of them are dodded, wanting horns." This seems to be
the first authentic reference to polled cattle in the county of Angus, apart from ancient sculptures. In the area
of Aberdeenshire, other polled cattle were found and were called Buchan "humlies," Buchan being the principal
agricultural district in Aberdeenshire. These cattle were apparently early valued as work oxen, as were most of the
other strains of cattle that later acquired various breed names. MacDonald and Sinclair believed that polled cattle
were found in Aberdeen in the 16th century, and stated:
The presence of polled cattle in Aberdeenshire 400 years ago is proved beyond
the shadow of a doubt, and it may generally be taked for granted that they were co-existent in various parts of
northeastern Scotland, their purity being contingent on the degree of care exercised in breeding.
Early Importers and Breeders. The first great herds of Angus beef cattle in America were built up
by purchasing stock directly from Scotland. Twelve hundred cattle alone were imported, mostly to the Midwest, in a
period of explosive growth between 1878 and 1883 . Over the next quarter of a century these early owners, in turn,
helped start other herds by breeding, showing, and selling their registered stock.