April 3 marks 50 years of Red Angus registrations in Canada. And while the Canadian Angus Association celebrates 50 years of Red Angus registrations in 2018, Red Angus have been in Canada much longer than 50 years, and that is also worth celebrating.
The first record of Red Angus in Canada is the recorded importation of a red cow from Scotland in 1886. Rancher Matthew Cochrane imported red Angus from Scotland in 1889 for his ranch west of Calgary, Alberta.
Volume I of the Canadian Angus Herdbook was published in 1908. Red Angus females were included but red males were excluded. On March 15, 1921, the CAA bylaws were amended and all Red Angus cattle were excluded. This decision would stand until April 3, 1968 when the Minister of Agriculture officially approved that Red Angus cattle be eligible for registration.
Although Red Angus were banned from the Canadian herdbook, several breeders accumulated herds of Red Angus cattle and registered them with the Red Angus Association of America after it was chartered in 1954. When red cattle were once again permitted in the Canadian Angus herdbook, the supply of Canadian-born Red Angus was very limited and breeders turned to the United States to find breeding stock.
The Mackenzie Bros. of Alberta were the first to import red Angus males and females from the United States to Canada. They purchased one herd sire, Beckton Larkebelang 130, one cow/calf pair and two bred heifers from Beckton Stock Farm in Wyoming in 1962. This breeding stock came from Red Angus pioneers Waldo and Sally Forbes who were instrumental in the formation of the Red Angus Association of America. Two years later in 1964, Don Mackenzie sold the first Red Angus bull in Canada.
When the Canadian Angus herdbook was opened to Red Angus in 1968, the Association offered to register all Red Angus cattle under the age of 24 months at the lowest price point, allowing Red Angus breeders an affordable opportunity to populate the herdbook and register their herds.
In 1969 Mark Mackenzie had the first Canadian-registered Red Angus bull to sell at auction in Canada. The first Canadian-raised purebred Red Angus bull, Red Mac 15Z, was sold at the Calgary Bull Sale in 1970 for $1,800. A year later, Red Stormalong 3A was a Calgary Bull Sale champion. He sold for $7,200.
In 1972 a group of 12 Red Angus cattle breeders from Alberta and Saskatchewan formed the Canadian Red Angus Promotion Society to specifically promote Red Angus cattle. And in 1978, Don Mackenzie became the first Red Angus breeder elected to the Canadian Angus Association Board of Directors.
Thanks to the pioneering efforts of Angus breeders dedicated to red hide colour, 50 years later, Red Angus account for more than 40% of Canada’s national Angus herd. The Canadian Angus Association is proud to recognize and applaud those efforts.