Growing demand for easy-care grass-fed suckler cows, coupled with the premium prices available for finished Aberdeen-Angus cattle, has seen a surge in calf registrations to an Angus bull over the past year leading to a new vision for the society – to top the beef sire leader board within the next year.

At present, the Aberdeen Angus breed is ranked second to the Limousin breed with17.49% of the 1,878,380 beef calves registered with the British Cattle Movement Service being Aberdeen Angus or Angus cross. However, breed president Paul Jeenes and chief executive Barrie Turner, are confident the Angus breed will top the popularity stakes by 2020, but, it comes at a cost to the society.

"Aberdeen-Angus is the mostly widely recognised beef brand in the world, let alone the UK," breed president, Paul Jeenes, told The Scottish Farmer at a press briefing at the Highland Show.

"Some 25 years ago, the Aberdeen Angus was verging on rare breed status but we are currently selling more and more into the market place. By 2020, calf registrations with BCMS will make up a little more than 20% of the total."

He added that an increasing number of producers have switched to relying on Aberdeen Angus bulls as a result of the premiums available for finished cattle, which, depending on the time of year and the area, have been as much as 60p per deadweight kg, although the average available through processors selling Marks and Spencers and Waitrose, is nearer 30p.

Add to that the increasing popularity of the Angus as a breeding female, which he said is proving easier to keep than other suckler breeds, and Mr Jeenes said producers are in a win win situation.

However, Mr Jeenes who farms in Somerset warned that this increased demand has cost the society in excess of £100,000 in updating the society's DNA sire verification scheme to protect the integrity of the brand and provide full traceability.

"In the past 10 years we have tried to put in place of means of brand security whereby DNA testing was compulsory for all sires sold at official society sales. We now also have 8000 DNA samples from sires dating back to 2016 along with DNA samples which are taken from the 6500 sires registered every year on the herdbook to protect brand security.

“We are unique in the industry as the retailers like to use the Aberdeen Angus brand as a selling point. It is then up to the processors and retailers how they use these tools.”

Now, as part of the registration process, bulls will automatically be DNA tested free of charge, with the test indicating how pure the sire’s breeding is.

Barrie Turner added that the society has a system in place whereby taking a tissue sample of meat, processors can identify the percentage of Aberdeen Angus in the meat

"From 2019 onwards, you cannot register a bull without it being DNA sire verified," he said adding that while DNA verification of females is still voluntary, breeders are aware of the need to ensure complete transparency following problems in other breeds.