Why Black Angus?

Angus cattle, also known as Aberdeen Angus, were developed from cattle native to the counties of Aberdeenshire and Angus in Scotland. Angus is also the most popular native beef bred in the UK, and the second most popular breed overall. Black Angus is the most common pure breed of cattle in the U. S., with over 350,000 registered animals. (1)

Black Angus cattle were introduced to the US in 1873 by George Grant, who brought four bulls to Kansas for cross-breeding. Farmers recognized the qualities of the breed, and soon more animals of both sexes were imported. 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. The first purebred Black Angus herd was recorded in 1885. Over the next quarter of a century these early owners helped start other herds by breeding, showing, and selling their registered stock. Our Cowboy Beef herd is descended from these early purebred herds.

Because of their native environment, Black Angus cattle are very hardy and can survive the Scottish winters, which are typically harsh with snowfall and storms. This makes them ideal for year-around grazing on the prairie of Western Nebraska, which has severe winters.

Purebred Black Angus are medium-sized, smaller than Holsteins and Longhorns. Their smaller size is an advantage in cooler climates, and results in a compact beef carcass with higher percentages of choice and prime cuts than most other breeds. The meat is very popular due to its fat marbling qualities. It’s the superior marbling that makes Black Angus beef so flavorful, tender and juicy.

In order to be labeled “Black Angus Beef” by the USDA graders, cattle must meet all 10 of the following criteria: (2)

  • Modest or Higher Degree of Marbling
  • Medium or Fine Marbling Texture
  • 10 to 16 Square Inch Ribeye Area
  • Less Than 1,000 Pound Hot Carcass Weight
  • Less Than 1-inch Fat Thickness
  • Moderately Thick or Thicker Muscling
  • No Hump on the Neck Exceeding 2 Inches
  • Practically Free of Capillary Rupture
  • No Dark Cutting Characteristics
  • Black Hair Color

Research at the USDA Meat Animal Research Center in Nebraska has proven over the years that the Black Angus breed is superior in marbling to all other mainstream breeds. (3) Recent research has revealed a strong relationship between the quality of marbling and the buttery, beef-fat flavor preferred by most consumers. The Number 1 reason consumers purchase Black Angus beef is its unique and desirable flavor. (4)

Marbling of meat is an important factor in USDA beef grading standards. The USDA quality grades are: (5)

  • Prime Grade – produced from young, well-fed beef cattle. It has abundant marbling and is generally sold in restaurants and hotels. Prime roasts and steaks are excellent for dry-heat cooking (i.e., roasting, broiling, and grilling).
  • Choice Grade – high quality, but has less marbling than Prime. Choice roasts and steaks from the loin and rib will be very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are, like Prime, suited to dry-heat cooking.
  • Select Grade – is very uniform in quality and normally leaner than the higher grades. It is fairly tender, but, because it has less marbling, it may lack some of the juiciness and flavor of the higher grades.

Standard and Commercial grades frequently are sold as ungraded or as “store brand” meat. The higher quality of marbling in Black Angus beef results in a higher percentage of Prime and Choice grade cuts in the average carcass. The industry average for Choice and above is 55%. In 2015 the average for all Nebraska beef was 77%, which is 22% higher than the industry average and 12% higher than Texas beef from larger cattle. (6) Due to its superior marbling, a Black Angus beef side – Cowboy Beef–will yield the highest percentage of Choice and Prime meat cuts in the industry. It is the highest quality bulk beef you can buy.

The superior marbling in Cowboy Beef doesn’t just happen; it is the result of years of managing our herd genetics. The genetic history of the bulls chosen to sire a generation of calves ultimately determines the marbling qualities of their offspring’s meat. Each breeding season our bulls are selected carefully; they must be of documented purebred Black Angus stock, with high predictive ratings for calf health and survivability, and market meat quality. Our herd is purebred documented back to 1926. Because the quality of the meat is so superior, we have worked diligently over the years to maintain a purebred Black Angus herd, one of the largest in the country.

Because Black Angus calves are smaller than other breeds, many cattlemen cross-breed Angus cows with larger bulls such as Herefords and Holsteins to produce larger calves. When grown to market age, these offspring yield more meat per animal, but some of the superior qualities of pure Angus beef are lost. In terms of marbling, flavor and tenderness, larger is not necessarily better. We never cross-breed our herd, in spite of economic pressures to do so.

Cowboy Beef is purebred, grass-fed, naturally raised Black Angus beef.

Contact Us


Shopping Cart


Your cart is empty.