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Guy recently told me the beef of black skinned cattle was superior to any other color and that he could tell the difference on the plate! Does a cow's hide color affect the quality of their meat? What breed produces the best beef?

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  • Guy recently told me the beef of black skinned cattle was superior to any other color and that he could tell the difference on the plate! Does a cow's hide color affect the quality of their meat? What breed produces the best beef?

    Guy recently told me the beef of black skinned cattle was superior to any other color and that he could tell the difference on the plate! Does a cow's hide color affect the quality of their meat? What breed produces the best beef?

  • #2
    Some swear by Angus cattle as being the best beef. I don't know that the color of hide changes the taste at all. I do know that aging and storage does play a factor in how the meat tastes. I have too often tasted roasts that were aged/stored next to liver and been able to taste the liver on them.

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    • #3
      My thoughts. I believe your friend is talking about Black Angus. All animals are purpose breed today. Angus being a beef cattle Herford a milk Cow and a group in between. That being said beef is graded by intramuscular fat only 9% is prime. The high end is dry aged. A lot of this prime is grain feed and grass finished. That's all I got.
      PS One of my pet peeved is Pork. Used to be there were Two types of Pigs Bacon & Lard. America got on the "no Fat" train. So fat was breed out of Pork. Now it is leaner than Chicken and tastes about as dry.

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      • #4
        This is kind of a "personal preference" question, but I find it interesting.
        I went to a livestock auction about a week ago and black skinned cattle brought consistently higher prices than other breeds.
        Interesting concept!

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        • #5
          Carl
          Angus and Hereford are both "beef" breeds.
          Not many "milk" breeds left these days.
          Holstein is the predominant milk breed with a few Jersey dairies. Probably a Guernsey dairy or two out there somewhere.
          Most cattle are beef breeds.

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          • #6
            Angus cattle tend to have more marbling, or intra-muscular fat, than most other breeds, and have built a reputation for superior beef. Over the years, breeders of other cattle have used some Angus genetics, party to improve marbling but also to make their cattle black, which often means higher prices. Some of the black cattle on the market might only be one-eighth Angus. Black isn’t necessarily better though. Red Angus cattle for example are similar to Black Angus cattle in terms of beef quality. Some of the Japanese breeds such as Wagyu produce even more marbling than any Angus, and some high-end steakhouses in the U.S. serve Prime Wagyu steaks (at very high prices). In the Kobe region of Japan, that breed is used to produce Kobe beef, which is regarded as the most tender and highly marbled beef anywhere. Some ranchers in the U.S. are crossing Wagyu or other Japanese breeds with Angus to produce some very high-quality beef.

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            • #7
              As a kid I worked on a cattle ranch that raised Black Angus the funny thing was the rancher wouldn't eat Angus, he had a small corral set up where he raised a single Chianina (Italian breed) well this prick was nasty and mean and chased you around at feeding time, actually it was fun, anyhow when this thing came back aged and packaged up I was treated to the best tasting steak(s) of my life, did not need a knife to cut it, just a sprinkle of salt. Skin color has nothing to do with taste it's all in the breed and what they are fed along with proper aging. My breed choices for great steaks, Chianina, Buffalo and Black Angus. Better go fire the grill up!

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              • #8
                Drover nailed it. Marbling is where quality originates. And can be determined with an ultrasound of the loins while the critter is live on the hoof. Some breeds like Charolais tend to throw higher birth weights than others do. Other arguments are the amount of feed in lbs that one breed may require compared to another in order to put on the most weight and intra-muscular fat. I think I prefer Hereford cattle over any other but in my limited experience Red Angus cows are mean and make good mommas. Mean being a good quality.

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                • #9
                  The angus breed has undergone some minor improvement in the last twenty years. Originally, their selling points were: 1) small birthing weight. This is important in northern regions where calving takes place in the dead of winter (usually end of January into February). A cow/calf that's in trouble during birth may not make it till the night rider comes around for the next check. Back when I was a kid that's why we'd see so many "magpies" on the range. Angus bulls were bred to Herford heifers to ensure an easy first birth. 2) Angus are good mothers and provide a lot more/better milk than most beef breeds. In fact, I knew may hobby farmers who milked their angus cows. 3) Angus are not so susceptible to sunburned udders and noses. A calf with a sunburn nose (e.g. Herford) may go off nursing and if he's managed to pick up a case of scours with spring grass, that can be problematic. He's likely to get too dehydrated, get sicker, and die. A cow with sunburned udder likely will not let the calf nurse, for obvious reasons. At the very least, you're looking at a stunted calf. Also, the pigment issue leads to a lot more cancer in non-solid color brown/black breeds. In Herfords cancer eye and udder are big issues. And nowadays you can't even get McDonalds auction prices for a fine cow with cancer eye. Federal law prohibits them on the premises of the auction if the animals have signs of cancer, or so I'm told by one rancher. Dumb! So now it's shoot em and leave em lay. 4) Angus are tough. They winter well and that may have something to do with their dark color. They are shaggier than some of the larger breeds (e.g. Limousine).

                  The downside to angus is/was (when I punched them years ago: 1) They are rangy SOBs. Hard to find and just about impossible to keep herded up when moving them. On the other hand, I could easily move two dozen Herford pairs. They stuck together like kindergarteners on a field trip. 2) The cows with calves are ornery as hell. Not unusual to finish pulling a calf and have the b*tch get up and try to stomp me. When I'm hunting in Montana with my black labs, I really have to keep an eye on the angus cows who have just had their calves shipped to market. They're always trying to confiscate my dogs. I have found angus bulls to be not terribly mean. In fact, quite docile in most circumstances (especially if there's some steers in with them).

                  As to the marble content, I think that's all BS. Marble depends mostly on the feed lot. Any cow off the range has a fraction of the "marble" that it will have after a few weeks on grain at the feed lot. By the way, Charolaise, besides having cancer/sunburn issues (obviously - they're all white), have somewhat higher bone mass to meat ratio. They are, however, easy keepers. One raised on the range can be as docile as a kid's 4H pet.

                  So why are angus so popular right now? As far as I can see it's all hype. Started with the Black Angus restaurant chain back when I was a young man. The ranchers are happy enough to go along with it. Angus calves are certainly not as big as other breeds come market time (e.g. Simmental, Limousine). But right now, thanks to a lot of marketing BS, the black calves, even though they may not be giant sized (and sometimes even below average size), are still bringing a much higher price per pound than other larger breeds. So the ranchers are still coming out ahead. And, as you can see above, raising angus is probably somewhat more trouble free.

                  And yes WAM, I was a cowboy once too. Well, sort of.

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                  • #10
                    Well Gents it in the kneading AND the breeding.

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI4oiId47dM

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                    • #11
                      An older gent back home in the late 50' and early 60's had already discovered the difficulties of dealing with Black Angus cattle!
                      According to Mr. Thomas, "I ain't havin' no black 'anguish' s?!t on my place!"
                      He preferred cantankerous Brahman cattle over angus!

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                      • #12
                        Drover1 nailed it, there are other factors though too.
                        So marbling is probably the biggest factor, that is why kobe beef is so highly valued. In the US they bred Wagyu bulls with Angus cows to get Kobe like beef here in the USofA.
                        Then next most important factor is the diet of the steer, and then age/tenderness.

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                        • #13
                          The quality of beef is dependant on several factors, Breed, feed, maturity, ageing, and cut are all essential components of final quality. The difference between our organic beef and conventional beef is more so affected by the feed, then by the breed. If the cow eats good, the cow tastes good. Conventional commercial beef is generally fed nothing but corn and pellets (injected with antibiotics), a diet that renders tender, cheap, and tasteless meat. Our organic farmers feed their beef a mixture of barley, corn, soy, oats and a lot of hay and grass, a diet that renders tastier and healthier meat.

                          In Japan some Kobe beef are given beer because it makes them eat more.
                          They also get rub downs and messages for making tender beef.

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                          • #14
                            As to age, almost everything you see at the meat counter went to the broker or feed lot as a "calf" (3/4 grown). Unless prices are absolutely in the toilet, most ranchers won't keep calves past November. In Montana where I hunt most are shipped by the middle of October. It's usually not worth it to feed butchering stock over the winter if it can be avoided. Thinking about it now, of all the ranches in the vicinity of where I hunt in Montana only two do not run black angus. One old gal has a polyglot of just about everything including Charolaise. They make an interesting cross-breed with angus. Rather than the magpie (white-faced black cow) like a Herford or Simmental cross, the white bull produces calves from black cows that are all grey. Similarly, red angus cow has a rather pretty solid color light brown calf. Both crosses strongly resemble Brown Swiss (an interesting breed which yields both excellent beef and fine milk). Her operation is not that big and, frankly, rather poorly run. The other guy I'm thinking of is from a family that dates back to the Indian Wars. His is quite a large operation and he raises mostly Herfords ... still! Some may be Simmental (hard for me to tell the difference). He even has some horned stock mixed in and not for rodeo either. About a third of his herd is red angus. I don't recall any black cattle. The guy has a lot of gas and oil on his property and if it weren't for that I'm sure he would have been belly up a long time ago. One cannot run a ranch on sentimentality.

                            Back when I was punching, Simmental was the gimmick then in vogue. Their calves are enormous. I remember going to one branding where the rancher was giving the breed a try. Those bloody calves were way too big for me to handle by myself! They are long buggers too (but not as long as Limousine). Those enormous calves sound nice at market time but they are not easy calvers. Even when crossed they can be problematic, and very much so for heifers. They didn't do well on the range either but I can't remember what the problem was. Anyway, I think it will be a long time before the black angus craze wears off. It's more useful for everyone in the business to keep it going. As far as the consumer is concerned, it doesn't make a fig of difference. All in their head and planted there by the meat packers ... and maybe the ranchers had some part in it too. I have eaten steaks from a milk cow breed yearling steer that were pretty hard to beat.

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                            • #15
                              1st Bubba you are correct I didn't have my morning coffee.

                              Thanks for the correction.

                              Kindest regards!

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