A drive by Meadow Brook Farm on County Road J in Couillardville may yield a look at a unique breed of Angus cattle.
The casual observer may not have been aware they were witnessing pending "Beef Royalty." Beauty (b. 5-6-2010) and her calf Ruby (b. 4-29-2016) were selected Grand Champion "Cow-Calf Pair" at the 2016 World Beef Expo in Milwaukee in September. Look closely and see how confidently they both strike the pose of champions.
Ruby was less than a month old when she arrived with her mother, Beauty, at Meadow Brook Farm. They both flourished with the other two cows and new calf in the small herd in the clean air and green grass of Couillardville. Beauty is an attentive and protective mother and clearly the alpha female in the herd. Angus cows, calves and people alike are all well-advised to not get between Beauty and fresh grain (while usually focused on her next meal, Beauty nonetheless displays the well-known mild temperament of the Lowlines).
The Australian Lowline Angus is a true Aberdeen Angus. These cattle were developed in Australia from a herd that was established at the Trangie Research Center in 1929 to provide quality breeding stock for the New South Wales cattle industry. Between 1929 and 1964, the center acquired some of the finest Angus cattle from Canada, Scotland and the United States.
In all, approximately 12 bulls and 30 cows were purchased. From these original 42 head, all Australian Lowline cattle are descended. The Trangie Research Center, along with the Australian Meat Research Committee and the Meat Research Corporation, successfully established a champion line of Angus cattle and validated their success by winning numerous awards at several international shows over many years. In 1964, the herd was closed.
In 1974, the Trangie Station shifted their focus to evaluate selection of growth rates on herd profitability within their champion Angus herd. They chose one herd for high yearling growth rates, one for low yearling growth rates and one random control group. This created “Highlines,” “Lowlines” and a control group. After about 15 years of selective breeding, the Lowlines stabilized at 30 percent smaller than the Highlines and the control group.
These trials were funded 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. The program involved a detailed evaluation of weight gain, feed intake, reproductive performance, milk production, structural soundness and carcass yield and quality . Though smaller, the Lowlines were found to be more efficient producers of high-quality meat, as well as extremely docile.
The first Lowlines came to the U.S. in 1996. In 2001, U.S. Lowline breeders voted to register their cattle as American Lowline Cattle; the American Lowline Registry was formed. Genetic testing is required on every animal to verify its ancestry.
The Australian Lowlines at Meadow Brook Farm are owned by their breeders, Jim and Deanna Moris from Cassville, and are on loan to Leon Janssen, owner of Meadow Brook Farm. They have left for the season but are expected back in the spring. More can be learned about the Lowline Angus and the Moris’ on the following website at www.highvoltagefarms.com.
Learn more about Couillardville and rural life in Wisconsin at www.machineshedmemories.com.
Leon Janssen is the owner of Meadow Brook Farm in Couillardville and co-author of Machine Shed Memories – A Chronicle of Rural Life in Wisconsin.