The first Lowline cattle in North America came to Canada in 1996. Interest in them has grown steadily since. The Canadian Lowline Cattle Association was established in 1997. Fullbloods and percentage cattle are now recognized in separate herd books. Lowline cattle were developed by the Trangie Agricultural Research Centre in NSW, Australia. In 1929, a choice Aberdeen Angus herd from Canada, supplemented by additional animals from the USA and Scotland, was purchased by the Australian government to form the foundation of a research herd. From 1929 to 1963 this Angus research herd was prominent in the Australian showing circuit and won many awards. The herd was closed to outside genetics in 1964, and between 1974 and 1992 research was performed to investigate the efficiency of converting feed to beef within groups of different sized animals. The Angus herd was divided into three groups; the “High Line”, the “Low Line” and a random “Control Line”. A detailed evaluation of weight gain, feed intake, reproductive performance, milk production, carcass yield and quality and structural soundness was carried out. Through 20 years of research, the smaller “Low Line” cattle were found to be extremely efficient converters of feed to beef while maintaining performance in the other characteristics studied. Interest in the smaller animals was great, and a new breed was created when the herd was dispersed to private breeders in 1992.
Lowline possess traits that will help them excel in the cattle industry. They are extremely hardy, naturally polled, black or red in color, and small framed. At all stages of their growth they are about 60% of the size of normal beef cattle. Lowline cattle mature early. They are easy calving and docile. At birth calves average 40 to 50 pounds. Calving losses are extremely low and even heifers have great ease in calving. The dams make excellent mothers and provide ample milk. Cows at maturity average about 100 cm at the hip while equivalent age bulls stand about 110 cm. Lowline are extremely efficient grass feeders and can even be finished on grass. They exhibit rapid early growth. Carcasses yield high, with reduced fat but greater marbling. Cuts are smaller which is attractive to the health conscious consumer.
An increasing number of commercial breeders are committing to downsizing their cattle. They want cattle that are moderate framed with excellent muscling ability and performance. Lowline bulls have proven to provide this consistently. Crossing heifers with Lowline sires produces aggressive calves that are born easy. Fewer calving difficulties mean more calves and a higher percentage of cows returning to calf. Half blood calves average 65 pounds but wean off heavy with high yielding carcasses and consistent marbling. Lowline bulls in a commercial herd provide easier handling, calving ease, increased stocking rates, increased feed efficiency and high yield quality carcass characteristics. The ease and profitability of beef production increases once the frame score of the herd is reduced.