So-called changes in consumer interests and the need for smaller carcases, coupled with the appeal of lower cost, grass-fed cattle, is leading to a surge in demand of traditional breeds to include the 'original' native Aberdeen-Angus.

Since the highly successful production sale of the Dunlouise native Aberdeen Angus herd in 2017, owners George (Geordie) and Julia Soutar, son Duncan and daughter Louise, have seen a phenomenal interest in their cattle which can be finished solely off grass at 300-320kg within 18-20 months of age.

Add to that winning the 2017 on-line European Aberdeen-Angus male championship with Dunlouise Newman which sold for 16,000gns, and the female title the same year with Dunlouise Elizabeth, and the Soutars have witnessed a growing demand for semen, embryos and live cattle from their nine original cow families that date back some 200 years.

Since the sale, the herd has seen increased exports to Australia and throughout Europe, with a growing number of new sales particularly to Uruguay and Romania.

Closer to home and the Soutars have also sold pedigree bulls into mainstream pedigree herds looking to breed more sustainable, grass-fed cattle.

"Our cattle are not the belt buckle cattle of the 1950's. They're long, deep framed cattle that are not designed to eat grain. Instead, they've got a bit of back fat and marbling, and can therefore be finished off grass," said Geordie.

By getting back to basics and relying mostly on frozen semen from the 1960s, the family has been concentrating on breeding for conformation as opposed to being fed for shape.

"Our females are smaller, 600kg cows that are sustainable, calve themselves inside or out, producing calves ranging from 28-34kg. Furthermore, they are extremely docile and hardy," he added, pointing out that heifers calve at 2.5 years of age, enabling them to last longer, with cows and calves wintered on silage only.

No creep feed is provided. Instead, calves are speaned at nine months of age, with bull calves only having access to whole oats and turnips at weaning while heifers are given silage only.

"We are often asked if we 'do numbers', and we do. The numbers that matter include a short gestation period and a low birth weight = easy calving. We aim for calves weighing 50% of their mother’s body weight at weaning on milk alone, and we are achieving that. Zero days on supplementary feeding, all adds up to increased profit margins," said Geordie.

By producing more 'native' bred cattle, the Soutars are also confident the beef produced from their cattle is of better quality in terms of taste and flavour compared to grass and grain finished cattle. And, being derived solely from grass, it contains more nutrients being rich in the vital omega threes.

Members of the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society of which Dunlouise cattle are registered, the Soutars and their cattle are also members of the recently established Native Angus Preservation Society or Native Angus®, signifying that their cattle have no imported bloodlines anywhere in their pedigree.

This certification mark is a form of trademark which in the case of the Native Angus® is that the cattle are the direct descendants of original Angus cattle and have no ancestors in their pedigree that are not also descendants of those original Angus cattle. In turn, this protects the interests of breeders from false claims which of course dilutes the Native Angus® name. This new certification mark provides a legal protection for the use of the term Native Angus®.

While demand for the Dunlouise cattle has soared, Julia was nevertheless keen to point out that there was huge interest as soon the couple established a web-site highlighting the benefits of native Aberdeen-Angus.

"We don't realise how lucky we are to have the internet and communication with the rest of the world through it. Demand for our cattle has virtually outstripped supply but it was establishing a web-site outlining our breeding policy that created the initial interest," concluded Julia who along with Geordie has travelled throughout much of the world looking at Aberdeen Angus cattle.