Australian Lowline cattle are a group of specially bred
Angus cattle from Australia.
In 1974, a special research project was commenced at the
Trangie Research Centre in New South Wales utilizing the Angus herd of the
prize-winning Trangie Stud; this had been a ‘closed’ herd (meaning, no new
blood had been introduced) since 1964. The project involved breeding animals
for size, selecting the largest and smallest animals respectively as
comparative groups – with the remainder of the herd acting as a control.
By 1992 a herd that bred true for small size and early
maturity had been developed and an Association was formed to promote what was
to be known as the Australian Lowline cattle. Although considered a new breed,
these animals had a bloodline pedigree traceable directly back to the
prize-winning stud animals of the original Trangie, standard Angus herd.
The first Lowline Cattle arrived in New Zealand in 1995.
Within five years there were about 200 of them divided among twelve breeders,
with a total of around 2000 breeding females throughout the world. The herdbook
in which all New Zealand pedigree animals are registered was at that time still
based in Australia. No animal may be entered without first being blood-typed
and parent verified in Australia.
Australian Lowline Cattle are a naturally polled, black
breed like their Angus progenitors, although so far, no red gene, such as
occurs in the standard breed, has been isolated. Bulls average around 105
centimeters in height and 450-500 kilograms in weight; cows average 100
centimeters and 350 kilograms respectively. (Weights vary from herd to herd
with some breeders favoring animals at the larger end of the scale – and
others, for whom the small size is the primary attraction, emphasizing
miniaturization in their breeding programs.) Bred exclusively for beef, Lowline
Cattle produce tender, well-marbled meat, suited to niche markets and
discerning tastes, and have been described as “paddock to plate” animals.
There are also a number of aspects of their small size which
makes them ‘easy-care’ cattle. Essentially, the smaller livestock are, the less
damage they do to pasture, particularly in winter when mud starts to dominate
the paddocks. Fences can be relatively lower and lighter, as can handling
facilities, in comparison to those required for average and larger-sized
animals. And they eat less. The general equation is around ten Lowline Cattle
to six standard beef animals.