A founder and the first systematic and successful improver of Angus cattle.
1789-1865| Artist: Robert Wadsworth Grafton (1876-1936)
Impact & Accomplishments
Born in Meigle, Perthshire, Scotland, Hugh Watson was a founder and the first systematic and successful improver of Angus cattle.
His family was involved in breeding as early as 1735, and Watson became a tenant at Keillor in 1808, at age nineteen. His herd started with six of his father’s best and blackest cows and one bull. By 1815, he was systematically achieving better cattle through line breeding and careful selection.
Watson’s favorite bull, Old Jock, was awarded the number 1 when the herd book was founded. A large percentage of living Aberdeen-Angus today can be traced to Old Jock or Old Granny, Watson’s other famed foundation animal.
Hugh Watson practiced the fitting and showing of his cattle more than other breeders of his day, first exhibiting in 1829. He is said to have won more than 500 prizes in the ring and did much to increase the popularity of black polled cattle throughout the British Isles.
Did You Know?
One of Watson’s most famous animals was a cow by the name of ‘Old Granny,’ born in 1824, who obtained celebrity-like status after having a record 25 calves and living to the ripe old age of 36, only dying because she was struck by lightning during a storm. Initially she was kept as an experiment to see how long a healthy cow to produce offspring, but she quickly became a much-loved emblem of the breed and Keillor Farm.
To honour this pioneer of the breed, the Aberdeen-Angus Cattle Society commissioned a memorial to Hugh Watson at Glamis Castle, home of the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and her continuing herd of Aberdeen-Angus cattle. In July 2017, the finished work was unveiled during the World Angus Forum in the breed’s homeland of Scotland. Photo credit: Canadian Angus Association.
The Aberdeen Angus Cattle Society are welcomed to Glamis Castle. Lord Strathmore and the Dowager Countess unveil the Hugh Watson Memorial created by Roddy Mathieson. Clip courtesy of Glamis Castle.