Lowline Angus - The Compact Cattle Breed With all the Whistles

Published: May 31, 2024

A black lowline angus standing on the grass
source: pinterest, old homesteadfarm

Imagine a cattle breed offering all the premium qualities of Angus beef but in a compact, feed-efficient little package. That's what the Lowline miniature cows provide.

With benefits like feed efficiency and a more docile temperament, this high-quality beef machine is a common choice among budding cattle farmers.

In this article, we will get into the history and unique characteristics of this breed.

Breed History and Development

Lowline cattle have a deep and rich history. This cattle line was developed through a selective breeding experiment conducted from 1974 to the early 1990s at the Trangie Agricultural Research Centre in New South Wales.

The aim was to evaluate the impact of growth rate on herd profitability and feed conversion efficiency by selectively breeding for high and low-yearling weight groups from an existing Angus herd established in 1929.

After 15 years, the low growth rate "Lowline" group had stabilized at around 30% smaller than the high growth rate "Highline" group, while maintaining similar feed conversion efficiency.

The closed Lowline herd was dispersed in 1992-1993, with interested breeders forming the (ALCA) Australian Lowline Cattle Association to establish it as a new breed.

Brief History of the ALCA

Australian Lowline Cattle Association was established in 1992 and maintains the herd book and breed standards for Australian Lowlines.

They also help promote the breed and support Lowline-specific breeders through various activities and their resources. Members span from Canada, New Zealand, the UK, and the US.

Australian Lowline Cattle Association Website
source: lowlinecattleassoc.com.au

Aberdeen Angus vs Lowline Angus

The common mix-up between these terms was because of a fairly recent name change. To recap, the Lowline Angus breed originated from Aberdeen Angus cattle in Australia.

In 2017, the American Lowline Registry officially changed its name to the American Aberdeen Association to more accurately represent the breed's genetic heritage.

Benefits of Lowline Cattle

Compact Size and Efficiency

The Australian Lowline is among the smallest cattle breeds, standing around 43 inches (100-110 cm) tall at maturity. Despite their compact size, they are efficient feed converters, producing up to 40% more beef per pound of feed compared to standard cattle breeds.

Mature Cows weigh around 700 lbs (320 kg) and mature bulls over 880 lbs (400 kg). Their small size reduces pasture damage and fencing requirements.

Lowline calves are born at around 44–52 lb (20–24 kg), with heifers reaching 240 lb (110 kg) and bulls 300 lb (140 kg) by 8 months old. Heifers do not cycle until reaching around 485 lb (220 kg) at 14–18 months, allowing easier herd management.

The breed is known for easy calving due to low birth weights. They are also an excellent beef breed. Their meat is well-marbled and flavorful, with a high carcass yield.

Ease of Handling

The Australian Lowline breed is known for its exceptional docility and ease of handling. Docility, or calmness of temperament, is a highly heritable trait that has been actively selected for in the breed's development. More docile cattle are safer and easier to work with, leading to improved human-animal interactions and better health outcomes. They are more receptive to equipment and medical treatments compared to cattle with poor temperaments.

Research has shown that docile cattle consistently outperform aggressive or "wild" cattle in feedlot and pasture settings. Docile cattle gain weight faster, produce higher-quality carcasses, and are ultimately more profitable than excitable cattle. One study found docile cattle earned $57 more per head compared to wild cattle due to better feed efficiency, higher grading carcasses, and fewer discounts.

Breeders place a strong emphasis on docility EPDs (Expected Progeny Differences) when selecting Lowline breeding stock to ensure this valuable trait is maintained and improved in the breed. With their compact size and exceptional docility, Australian Lowlines are an ideal breed for small farms and operations focused on low-stress livestock handling

Related: Herefords also have similar characteristics to the Lowline. The other breed to consider is the Miniature Jerseys

Health and Care Tips

Lowline Cattle on grassy field next to a man in blue shirt
source: x.com @adamhenson


For the Angus breed, the nutritional requirements are actually lower compared to standard beef breeds. This makes them better suited for smaller acreage farms. Here are some nutrition-specific tips:

  • Provide access to high-quality pasture or hay as their primary forage source. Lowlines are efficient grazers and can meet most of their nutritional needs from good forages alone.

  • Supplement with a balanced mineral mix formulated for cattle to ensure they receive essential macro and micro minerals.

  • Lowlines can finish well on a forage-only diet, but some grain supplementation in the final stages can improve marbling and carcass quality if desired.

  • Pay close attention to body condition, especially on lactating cows, and adjust feed levels as needed to maintain an ideal body score. Their smaller size means nutritional requirements don't increase as dramatically.

  • Always provide fresh, clean water at all times, as water will affect forage digestion and the overall performance of cattle.


Lowline cattle are a hardy breed with good natural disease resistance. You can expect them to live between 12–25 years. Here are some general health tips

  • Follow recommended vaccination protocols. Work with a vet to get the most up-to-date information for your area.

  • Make sure you implement deworming programs and use proper dewormers to control parasites.

  • Monitor for regular behavior changes. Log all illnesses in a record keeping system along with events like loss of appetite, abnormal discharges, and lameness.


Like other miniature cattle breeds, the Lowline Angus needs proper care and sheltering. Here are some tips.

  • Provide a three-sided shed (loafing shed) or a barn if it's within budget to protect the cattle from the wind, rain, and snow in the cold seasons.

  • Make sure you have good ventilation to prevent respiratory issues

  • Add dry bedding areas with straw or wood chips to help encourage resting

  • Have 20–25 square feet per cow of resting space.

  • Keep an eye out for the areas that need shade. Cattle can suffer from heat stress if there isn't enough shade during the hot seasons.

A young farmer wearing plaid and a hat petting a brown cow over a gate in a barn
Credit: @cottonbro / pexels.com

In short, providing basic, well-ventilated, and appropriately sized shelter for these small animals, goes a long way.

Related: Mini Cow Breeds for Successful Small-Scale Farming

Essential Lowline Record Keeping Tips

As with all cattle, maintaining accurate records will be required to keep them healthy and properly manage them over time.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Consider identifying each animal with unique ear tags, tattoos, or a brand. Add this unique ID to your records along with the date of birth, sex, sire, and dam.

  2. Include other important data like birth weight, weaning weight, and yearling weight to track growth over time. You'll want to weigh your cows so you can find out important metrics like average daily gain.

  3. Also mark down vaccinations, deworming, illness types, and treatments. This type of data will help inform culling decisions.

  4. Analyze your records regularly to identify top performers and track progress toward your herd goals. Record keeping will take the guesswork out of your management decisions.

Consider registering your Lowline with the American Aberdeen Association.

Cost Considerations

Initial investment

The initial expense of Lowline cattle can range from $1,500–$7,000 with the average being in the neighborhood of $2,500. This large range is due to the fact that there are several factors like genetics, breeding status, show records, and even seasonality among others.

Maintenance Considerations

As you would imagine, the initial investment is just the beginning. These are other considerations for supporting your herd.

Feed Costs

a light brown bail of hay sits in the sun outside

By far, the largest expense in cattle production is due to the smaller size of Lowlines, which requires about one-third of the feed intake versus standard cattle breeds while still producing a high percentage of beef per acre.

Because hay costs vary from region to region, you'll want to use this formula to calculate your initial estimates for feed costs:

Daily Feed Cost = Daily Feed Intake × Cost per Pound of Feed

For example

For a 700 lb cow, the daily feed intake is typically around 2.5% to 3% of its body weight in dry matter. Let's use 2.75% for this example.

700 lbs × 0.0275 = 19.25 lbs (daily feed intake)

Using an average of $.10 per pound of dry matter in Texas our final calculation is: 19.25 lbs x $0.10/lb = $1.93

So in this example, it will cost $1.93 per day per head (source). Do note, that this only accounts for the hay costs and not any supplements that are typically added and is only meant as an example.

Pasture requirements

Since this breed has smaller frames, you can typically fit more cattle on any given acreage.

Less Wear on Facilities

Since these animals are smaller in size you can expect your materials like fencing, shelter, and other related facilities to last longer. Their calm temperament also helps the material last longer. Over time, these savings can be substantial.

Is the Lowline Right For You

By now you can see that the Lowline Angus offers a compelling package of benefits for cattle farmers looking for more efficient and easier-to-handle alternatives.

With a rich history tracing back to Australia, Lowlines has proven its value as high-quality beef producers time and time again.

To find out if they are right for you, consider the other types of miniature cattle and double-check the initial investment needs.

For cattle farmers with smaller acreages, the Lowilne might just provide the right opportunity for your production needs.

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