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Australian Lowline Cattle
A Rare Breed of Austalian Origin
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 (thas is, no new blood has 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. Although 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 Lowlines arrived in New Zealand in 1995. Within five years there were about 200 of them divided among twelve breeders in this country, with a total of around 2000 breeding females throughout the world. The herdbook in which all New Zealand pedigree animals are registered was at this time still based in Australia. No animal may be entered without first being blood-typed and parent verified in Australia.
The Australian Lowlines 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 centimetres in height and 450-500 kilograms in weight; cows average 100 centimetres and 350 kilograms respectively. (Weights vary from herd to herd with some breeders favouring animals at the larger end of the scale – and others, for whom the small size is the primary attraction, emphasising miniaturization in their breeding programmes.) Bred exclusively for beef, Lowlines 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 would be ten Lowlines to six standard beef animals.
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