IT was a first for this breed at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show. The show saw Wessex Lowlines for the first time – a breed dubbed ‘the mini-Angus’.
Farmers Sam and David Maughan brought their little-known Lowline cattle from Stubhampton near Blandford Forum to compete in the show ring and to meet the public.
What makes this breed so different is that despite being a direct descendent of the famous Aberdeen Angus, they stand at just one metre tall when fully grown.
There are just a handful of Lowlines in the UK and the Maughans look after the largest herd with around 100 cattle grazing 60 acres. Sam Maughan said: “Everyone comments about their height because they are two-thirds of the size of a typical cow that’s reared for beef. But because of this they make for great cattle because they’re easy to handle and they only need grass – no requirement for expensive grain that commercial beef cattle are usually fed on.
“Another benefit of their size is that you can have more of them in a field than the larger beef cattle which means you need less space to keep them. That’s why they are particularly popular with smallholders.”
In 2010 Wessex Lowlines imported 10 heifers from Edmonton, Canada – the first live beef imports into the UK in over a decade. They arrived by Air Canada at Heathrow none the worse for their travels. A second import of three in-calf heifers and six calves from the same farm took place at the beginning of February, 2012. A third import of two in calf heifers and eight heifers arrived this February. This gave the opportunity to extend the gene pool by using new sires.
Canada is the only country that can meet the strict health criteria for imported cattle into Europe, but to broaden the genetics the Maughans have imported semen from Australia and currently have semen from several different bloodlines.
Sam said: “In order to increase numbers we have embarked on a programme of embryo transplant using ten locally bred, elite health, and pedigree Aberdeen Angus heifers as recipients.”
For more information about the history of the breed, go to the wessexlowlines.co, website.