By definition, the Brangus is an animal that is three-eighths Brahman and five-eighths Angus. It was developed in the United States in the 1930s the hope of capturing the best qualities of its two parent breeds and, since then, it has proliferated throughout the United States and into Canada, Mexico, Central America, Australia and Africa.
Those two Brangus components, the Brahman and Angus breeds, are indeed different, with distinct histories that translate into distinct attributes as modern cattle.
The Brahman’s roots are in India, where it evolved in an environment of extreme temperature, sparse forage and regular exposure to disease, parasites and insect pests. Over time, the Brahman adapted well to these hardships. The breed is renowned today for its general hardiness and its distinctive ability to thrive in extreme heat, a quality that is lacking in most cattle of European heritage.
The Angus was developed in very different surroundings. Its roots are in the Scottish counties of Aberdeenshire and Angus, an area with a long history as a center of agriculture. This is virtually ideal cattle country, with a temperate climate, abundant rainfall and plentiful grazing. In the 1700s, two polled cattle strains, the Angus doddie and the Buchan humlies, both of which are named for their lack of horns, were crossed, resulting in the foundation of the Angus breed. From the beginning, the breed was an excellent beef animal, consistently producing high quality meat while making efficient use of its resources. Along with its value as a producer, the Angus is known for ease of calving, fertility, superior maternal behavior and a docile temperament.
In the United States, Red Angus and Black Angus are registered as two distinct breeds, a practice that is not followed elsewhere, but that has not slowed the breed’s growth. The Black Angus alone is the country’s single most popular breed.
Early attempts at breeding Brahman and Angus undoubtedly predate the formal registration of the Brangus in 1949, when the American Brangus Breeders Association was established. In 1932, the United States Department of Agriculture began experimental breeding at its research facility in Louisiana. At the same time, private breeders in Oklahoma, Texas and Mississippi were engaged in similar pursuits. Despite those earlier efforts, the history of today's recognized breed originates with the foundation animals registered in 1949.
Today, the breed has proven itself in climates that the Angus has trouble tolerating, especially the hot, humid conditions that prevail along the Gulf Coast. In summer, Brangus calves have been shown to gain more weight than pure Angus and to be heavier both at birth and at weaning. At the same time, they tolerate cold and are able to thrive when food is abundant. To be sure, Angus cattle have preserved an advantage in fertility, birth weight and calf survival to weaning, but Brangus have proven their worth as excellent beef cattle in adverse conditions that would be a significant hardship for their purebred Angus kin.