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HISTORY OF THE LOWLINE BREED
Australian Lowline Cattle were developed from the Angus herd which was
established at the Trangie Research Centre in 1929 to provide quality breeding
stock for the NSW cattle industry.
The Angus breed has its origins in eastern Scotland, in the counties of Aberdeen
and Angus, where it was developed from the native black hornless cattle.
There are charters dating back to the 16th century which mention black
hummel oxen, and even earlier stone carvings. A single breed was evolved by
Hugh Watson of Keillor, Angus, and William McCombie of Tillyfour, Aberdeen.
Black cattle were imported into Tasmania from New Zealand in 1822 and then
from Tillyfour in 1853. About this time the Aberdeen Angus began to spread
around the world, to England, France, Ireland and North America. They are
now dominant in the biggest North and South American cattle herds,
superseding Shorthorns and Herefords, and they provide three quarters of New
Trangie's foundation stock were purchased first from Canada and comprised
two bulls, Glencarnock Revolution and Brave Edward Glencarnock, a cow and
calf, and 17 heifers from the Glencarnock Stud, Brandon Canada. The bulls were
from the Blackcap Revolution family, which won consistently at Chicago
International Show during the 1920's.
The Trangie herd maintained that tradition at the Sydney Royal Show. Brave
Edward Glencarnock, a grandson of Blackcap Revolution, sired several Sydney
Royal Show champions, including Trangie exhibits which won the
Narrangullen Cup three times. The progeny of the cow Glencarnock Eurotia 4th
won many prizes at the Sydney Royal Show. Among the prizewinning progeny
were champion bulls Trangie Prism and Trangie Edward 4th, the twice
champion cow Trangie Eurotia 2nd, and several reserve champions. Another
cow, Blackcap Bixie 2nd was imported carrying Glencarnock Blackcap Eric
which was champion bull at Sydney in 1933.
The Trangie herd was reinforced with further imports from Canada, the United
States of America and Scotland between 1930 and 1950. Revolution of Page
28th was imported from the US, and his progeny included Trangie Susan which
won junior champion heifer in 1941 and Trangie Page 52nd, which was reserve
champion bull in 1944.
Everside 2nd of Maisemore was imported from England in 1941 and Erision of
Harviestoun was purchased for 3,000 guineas from the Dalmeny Stud of
Scotland in 1947, followed by four Dalmeny bloodline heifers in 1948. Eblinettes
General of Ada and two heifers, Craven's Revolution Blackcap 7th and Lady
Glencarnock 4th were imported from Canada in 1947, along with three heifers
from the Andeot Stud of Maryland.
The Trangie Research Centre continued to exhibit at the Sydney Royal during
the 1940's and 1950's, winning four champion bull awards, as well as supreme
champion in 1954 with Trangie Anthony and supreme champion in 1955 with
Trangie Erison 46th. The last imported bull was Pro Ben of Balfron, which was
brought from Scotland in 1956. Bulls were bought from leading New South
Wales studs Wambanumba, Glengowan, Tulagi and Wallah between 1961 and
1964, and the herd was then closed to outside animals.
The Angus herd was now firmly established in Australia, with extensive
commercial herds throughout the New South Wales and Victorian tablelands,
but with a strong presence elsewhere. The cows calved easily, and the product
was sought after for the developing export trade to Japan.
The emphasis at Trangie switched to research, and in 1963 the Australian Meat
Research Committee asked the Trangie Research Centre to conduct a project
aimed at establishing the role of performance recording in the breeding
program of a herd. Equal emphasis was given to weight gain and to visual
conformation score in the selection of replacement bulls and heifers. The
project continued until 1970, pioneering performance testing in Australia, and
demonstrating successfully the usefulness of measuring performance in a stud
From 1971 and 1973 trials were conducted using objective measurement and
appraisal by experienced stud breeders in the selection of replacement bulls
and heifers. The herd was divided into two, with the results indicating that
performance testing compared with the assessment of experienced stud
breeders assessing growth potential.
The trials which produced the Lowline breed began in 1974, with funding from
the Meat Research Corporation, to evaluate selection for growth rate on herd
profitability. The aim was to establish whether large or small animals were
more efficient converters of grass into meat. This trial continued for 19 years.
The Trangie staff chose one herd selected for high yearling growth rates and
another selected for low yearling growth rates, with a randomly selected
control group. The dubbed the herds High Line, Low Line and Control Line.
Satellite herds were established at Glen Innes in the northern tablelands of
NSW and at Hamilton in the Western Districts of Victoria to enable climate to
be taken into account.
The program involved a detailed evaluation of weight gain, feed intake,
reproductive performance, milk production, carcass yield and quality and
The original Low Line herd comprised 85 cows, which were joined to yearling
bulls also selected for low growth from birth to yearling age. From 1974, the
Low Line herd remained closed, with all the replacement bulls and heifers
selected from within the line.
After 15 years of selective breeding, the Low Line herd had stabilized at about
30 percent smaller than the High Line cattle. The bulls were maturing at about
43 inches, and the cows at about 39 inches or less, against 59 inches for
standard Angus bulls, and close to the same height for standard Angus cows.
Mr. Ian Pullar, a grazier from Armidale, secured 43 cows and then two bulls
from the satellite herd at Glen Innes and registered the Australian Boutique
Cattle Association as an umbrella organization. His interest save from
extinction what, through no plan by the Trangie Research Centre, had become
a new breed of cattle, a breed which had the desirable characteristics of the
Angus breed, but which was only about 39 inches high. They are smooth, free
from waste, and produce high quality meat. They are free from the eye cancer
which plagues the Hereford, and they have proved adaptable to Australian
conditions. Being descended from stock which have been handled in Australia
for 60 years, they were also exceptionally docile.
Ian Pullar secured publicity for his herd of miniature cattle, and there was
immediate interest. Some Low Line bulls and heifers were sold by tender.
Although the Trangie Research Centre retains some of its herd as a stud, its
emphasis now is on research, and the spurt of interest in experimental as
opposed to stud animals was unexpected. The Trangie researchers headed by
Peter Parnell had not set out to create a new breed. Their aim was a controlled
experiment in meat production. But they were good cattlemen , and their
selection process produced a Low Line herd with the excellent conformation of
their other stock. They were bemused by the interest which developed in the
Low Lines, and then gratified.
The NSW Agricultural Department was proposing to terminate the experiment,
sending the cattle from the trial to abattoirs for slaughter. After some
hesitation, and after strong representation, auction sales were held at Glen
Innes and at Trangie. At the Trangie sale on August 8, 1992, nine bulls, twenty
three heifers and seven cows were sold for a total of $19,475. Seven purchasers -
Ian Pullar, David Barnett, Des Owens, Don Burke, Carolyn Tebbutt, Kevin
Everson and Bob Pringle - then met beneath a gum tree at the Trangie Centre
auction site to form the Australian Lowline Cattle Association, adopting the
name LOWLINE. Those names appear in the Herd Book as foundation members.
The complete dispersal sale occurred on October 30 at Trangie in 1993, when 20
bulls were sold, together with 44 cows and 51 heifers, for a total of $228,200.,
on lively bidding, from all mainland states.
The Australian Lowlines are of champion stock with an Australian history
dating back to 1929, and beyond that in Canada, the United States, England
and Scotland. They are docile, and well conformed. They offer small holders and
those farmers with limited acreage available from their other activities the
option of keeping docile cattle of high quality. The Scots who first developed
black cattle would be as proud of the Lowlines as of any of their giant cousins.
They made their first appearance at the Brisbane Royal National in 1994, and
subsequently at the Sydney Royal Show in 1995, and Melbourne and Canberra
Royals in 1996. They are now regular exhibits at agricultural shows around
This is the only documented Herd of Pure Aberdeen Angus (currently called
Black Angus) left on this earth. In view of the Strick DNA testing of all
Fullbloods and Purebreds, the American Lowline Registry will ensure this herd
does not become contaminated.