Nick Weber of Wessex Lowlines explains the reasons for the success of these well-proportioned beef cattle that are well suited to smallholdings
Lowline Angus Cattle origins are indigenous to the UK but the establishment of the breed occurred in Australia from where they have spread around the world including now the UK. Numbers in the UK are very small at present, and whilst our Lowline herd is growing rapidly, interest in the Lowline Breed throughout Europe is growing faster.
Wessex Lowlines has established three new start-up herds in the UK, one of which is in Northern Ireland, and we have received enquiries about our Lowlines from France, Italy and Germany. We currently have 69 Lowlines, of which 45 are females and 29 of these will calve this year. The only source of Lowlines outside of Europe is the production from 21 cows in Canada, from which we have successfully imported three times.
Why the interest in Lowline Cattle? It’s all about efficiency and reduced costs in a world where human competition for grain is leading to high feed cost for cattle. In a temperate climate we can grow grass where grain will not do so well. Lowlines utilise fodders efficiently and grass fed beef tastes better too!
Quality attributes for Lowlines are derived from their Angus heritage, which means a quality well-proportioned beef animal. They are naturally polled, so no horns, and no dwarfism genes as in some other small breeds; coupled with a good temperament, Lowlines being quiet docile animals. Handling systems don’t need to be big and heavy with smaller cattle. They are more feed efficient than heavier breeds. Lowlines will mature on grass alone. Just compare the cost of hay per tonne with that of grain.
Higher stocking rates result in more meat per acre with less poaching of ground if out-wintered on suitable ground. Carcase yields of lean meat are higher with up to 76% possible, and American tests revealed that Lowlines’ meat yield for the same total amount of feed fed could be as much as 70% more than the poorest performers and 40% over large Angus!
Small meat joint sizes are more in line with modern household requirements, and grass fed beef is produced with less fat but with marbled muscle – minimal concentrates need to be fed at finish, resulting in a better tasting beef. Australian and NZ beef taste awards have been regularly won by Lowlines and Lowline halfbreds. Healthier, tender and full of flavour!
Lowlines’ hybrid vigour and quality is displayed when cross bred to other breeds. Often improving muscle definition and overall conformation too. Gestation is 7 -14 days shorter with smaller calves giving easier calving and the cows milk well so the small calves are quickly away. Less calving stress means the rebreeding rate is better than average.