AUBURN, Ala. – Looks can be deceiving. Contrary to popular belief, all cattle with black hair are not pure Angus beef, and it has become increasingly difficult to tell the difference.
The popularity of Angus beef has risen greatly in recent years due to a marketing push by the Certified Angus Beef brand. Buyers choose Angus beef because of its marbled appearance which makes it more tender meat. The high demand for Angus has led to more cattle being bred with black hair and consequently more Angus beef.
“Because of their consistent and persistent marketing campaigns, (and their beef is consistent in quality), the Certified Angus Beef product was labeled superior by chefs and consumers,”said Dr. Lisa Kriese-Anderson, Extension animal scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System and an Auburn University associate professor.
“In 1991, the first National Beef Quality audit found quality and consistency to be the beef industry’s number one problem. Cattle buyers knew Angus had superior marbling (based on research) and started preferring black-hided animals. Breeders of many of the breeds like Simmental and Limousin decided to turn their traditional red animals to black.”
The uninformed consumers wanting the highest quality of beef, think all cattle with black hair are pure bred Angus. Sometimes, even experts struggle to tell which black cows are purebred Angus.
“Breeder made cattle black by crossing [the purebred Simmental and Limousin] with a black Angus to obtain the black coat color,” said Kriese-Anderson. “Many times when you look at a black animal, you know it has Angus in it, but you may not know if its all Angus or not.
Not all black cows are Angus and similarly, not all Angus cattle are black. Red Angus is another breed of cattle and the only difference lies with the color of the their coats. Red Angus have just as much marbling in the meat, if not more than black Angus.
Make knowledgeable decisions about what brands of meat you purchase based on the quality standards of the beef .
No matter the color of the hair of the cattle, a buyer’s satisfaction with their beef purchase will rely on what they look for in a cut of meat and whether they know the best cooking practices for that cut.
Featured image by: Vicki Hunt/Shutterstock