Angus cattle are to butchers as Katie Ledecky is to any swim coach. They are the Olympic U.S. basketball team of cattle breeds, with the muscling of Jake Dalton, the maternal traits of Kerri Walsh Jennings, and the disposition of Simone Biles.
It's no coincidence that restaurants seek to utilize the Angus name on their menus, though not always honestly. Angus cattle have earned a reputation for turning out some of the tastiest beef - well marbled and tender - and have even been bestowed the nickname of "The Butcher's Breed" for their quality and consistency.
But it doesn't stop there. Angus cattle not only climb to the gold-medal pedestal of taste and quality; they are also Olympians for ranchers and for the environment.
It's all in the genes.
Most, if not all, Olympic athletes were born with genetic potential in their respective fields that 99.9% of us do not have. They were quite literally born to be Olympians, designed with structure and skills for moving quickly, jumping high, and getting balls into nets.
Similarly, Angus cattle have high genetic propensity for achieving excellence with abundant marbling and tender cuts. But it's not only about the beef.
Behind every Olympic-caliber performance in Rio is a well-oiled machine of an athlete. Similarly, behind every high-quality steak is an amazing 4-legged ruminant that can turn grass into one of the most powerful proteins in the world. Angus cattle have genetic propensity for producing great beef, but they also have genetic propensity to be good mothers, to efficiently use the Earth's resources to grow, and to possess a calm disposition to ensure the safety of the ranchers who raise them.
In fact, the American Angus Association requests that Angus ranchers submit genetic samples from their cattle year after year. This helps to more accurately identify which genetic markers express which traits, and helps other ranchers to make better breeding decisions for their herd.
DNA samples from Connealy Angus cattle.
When is hitting the genetic jackpot not enough?
Well, never (my mom tells me not to speak in absolutes but I think I'm safe on this one). Any Olympian will tell you that hitting the genetic jackpot is not enough. Also included in the recipe for a gold medal is training for 6+ hours a day, foregoing social activities, uprooting their lives to move closer to a training facility or coach, and adhering to a strict diet in order to represent the Red, White, and Blue.
Angus cattle are the same. They have the genetic potential to be great, but without the correct husbandry, care, nutrition, and breeding, they would just be average.
Behind every gold-medal performance is a high-caliber athlete, and behind every high-caliber athlete is a world-class coach.
Behind every mouth-watering steak is a superior animal, and behind every superior animal is an exceptional rancher.
Who raises your beef?