History of the Angus cattle breed
The exact origin of the black poll cattle of Scotland is uncertain. The great naturalist Charles Darwin (1809-82) was also unable to offer any explanation for the origin of the breed. References to black poll cattle from 1752 describe the presence of “humble” oxen and “dodded” heifers in the region of Angus, Scotland. These cattle gave rise to the Aberdeen Angus breed in the 19th century.
Portrait by David Steel of the renowned Ballindalloch herd of Aberdeen-Angus cattle (1884)
The first record of black cattle imported into Australia was of 8 black cattle that were unloaded at the Hobart Town docks in Tasmania on the 20th January 1824. These cattle were taken to Dennistoun the property of Captain Patrick Wood, near Bothwell. They were regarded by early writers and then by the Angus Society of Australia as the first cattle to come to Australia of a type similar to those that formed the Angus breed in the following 60 years. The genes of these early cattle that arrived at the Hobart Town docks remain in the Edgell’s family Dennistoun Angus herd today, and it remains the oldest property to continuously run Angus cattle in Australia.
James Mitchell, Eastern Marshes, near Oatlands, Tasmania herd originated from direct importations from Scotland. Arthur O’Connor, Connorville, Lake River, Tasmania, brought the entire Eastern Marshes herd at the dispersal sale following James Mitchell death. It is noted that Arthur O’Connor was the earliest exhibitor of black poll cattle at the Royal Hobart Show.
WC Grubb founded the Barrowville herd of Angus cattle in 1885 with the purchase of cows from the late Arthur O’Connor. At the Barrowville stud dispersal sale following the sudden death of WC Grubb in 1919 , his son in-law S Tulloch Scott purchased some cattle to found Dunedin stud.
In 1838 the Docker family settled at Bontharambo, near Wangaratta in Victoria. They imported cattle from New Zealand to start a commercial herd then in the 1920’s they started the Bontharambo stud. Among the next to start breeding black polls in Australia was William Hogarth from Balgownie station, Cambooya, south of Toowoomba, Queensland, in 1882.
A major impetus to the breed’s development in NSW was the establishment of Edinglassie stud at Muswellbrook, by JC White in partnership with FJ White in 1880. This partnership dissolved in 1908 with JC White retaining Edinglassie, Tucka Tucka, and the firm name of White Bros. FJ White took Saumarez, Bald Blair and other nearby properties and adopted the firm name of FJ White & Sons. The Belltrees stud of HEA and V White, Scone, was founded in 1897.
The Belltrees Homestead, Scone, NSW.
South Australia and Western Australia lagged behind the other states in introducing Angus cattle. The first cattle believed to have been imported to Western Australia from Scotland in about 1891 by a Mr. Muir, who settled at Deeside, Manijimup. Probably the first breeder in South Australia was John Lewis of Adelaide around the 1890’s. Another early breeder in South Australia was Samuel Fordham Grieve, who managed a property for the Robertson family between Penola and Naracoorte in the South East
One of the greatest catalysts for the development of the Angus breed in Australia was the formation of a society in 1919. This happened only because of the determination of a small group of Queenslanders. When the first herd book was published in 1922, it listed 14 members from every state except South Australia. It included 65 bulls, 313 cows, and a number of cattle in the appendices, plus provided a short history of Angus studs in Australia and listed the royal show winners for the previous year.