A few things..
1st, I agree 100% that a fullblood Lowline is a niche market only animal. They are an extreme, just like their opposite, the Fullblood Chi's of the 1970's & early 80's.
However, I totally disagree that a 1/2 blood Lowline is a niche market animal only. If percentage Chi's can be used with success, then a low percentage Lowline can be used with success also & the low percentage Lowline, IMHO, probably has more to offer.
More to the point... back in February, I sold a 1/2 blood Lowline X Tarentiase steer at a special feeder sale. That animal weighed just under 700 lbs. & grossed just under $750. Facts are facts, you can be as critical as you want, but you can't honestly tell me that particular steer calf didn't make me money & it was marketed the "traditional way". He wasn't creep fed & his total feed bill was very minimal because he was only on feed a short period of time. Now factor in that I am able to produce & have so far produced 100% live calf crops, as are many other breeders that I know who are crossing them have been doing for 3-5 years, & you do the math. No C-sections, no Vet visits to assist the cattle... they are low input cattle, but able to produce a pretty decent amount of money. My other 1/2 blood steers were not marketed the traditional way & I can make even more money selling them as finished beef! I even kept one 1/2 blood as a bull... he passed his BSE @ 11 months. At 15 months, he will weigh 1000+ lbs. on a high roughage ration with minimal supplemental feed, with a 38cm scrotal @ approx. 47 inches tall. Not to mention that he has as more natural thickness than the of the other "full sized" bulls. Anyway, I've had commercial people from South Dakota, Missouri, Virginia, Indiana, Illinois & Kentucky, many of whom didn't know anything about my Lowlines or F1's beforehand, & all them, except one person (And I think that he didn't want to admit it), told me that they were actually "surprised" & that the crosses "were better than they had expected".
Also, don't take my word about Lowline F1's... contact North Dakota State Dickerson's research center & ask them about their 3 year trial using Lowline bulls on regular sized commercial heifers, with them taking the steer calves all the way to the rail.
Now RE the feedlot owners... IMHO, the quickest way to lose money in the cattle business is to get tunnel vision & focus only on what the feedlots want. I don't think that you can totally forget about them, but they absolutely don't care if your cost to run a cow per year is $400+. Anyway, we tried doing exactly what the feedlots wanted back in the 80's & IMHO, it was a mistake. The feedlots LOVED our Chi sired calves & payed a premiuim for them. The trouble is, you can't keep the heifers in that scenario or you will end up with big cows who will eat you out of house & home & wont wean a calf any bigger than some 5 frame cows. if you sell all the heifers, you can't turn around & buy good heifers as cheaply as you can raise them yourself. Anyway, over the course of several years we finally figured out that we could make more money with moderate framed cattle. Funny thing too, we discovered that some 5 frame cows can weaning 750+ lb. calves out of moderate bulls! See attached pic below of a low 5 frame cow & her ready to wean calf...
So we went from using frame 7+ Chi's & Simmental's & Limousin bulls & went out & bought a few moderate sized Tarentaise bulls & females along with a small herd of moderate framed Angus cows for cross breeding. Of course, old habbits are hard to break & some of our our original Tarentaise were frame 7 (but they were for the showring & we planned to breed them down). Since we went to a more moderate framed cow, we haven't taken any discounts & we aren't feeding as much either. I can tell you that less is spent on them (pasture rent per head, hay, supplemental feed, etc.), but the calves will make just as much as our frame 7+ calves did out of frame 7 bulls & cows.
One final thing... for every frame score 7 cow in this county, you will find 25-30 that are under a frame score 6. Other areas are likely different, but a frame score 5 is what everybody around here seems to like.
I've been around both extreme's, moderates, show calves, commercial calves going to sale barns, calves sold in pot loads to the feedlots, sold on satelite auctions, backgorunded on feed, backgrounded on wheat pasture or grass, etc, & all points in between & based on all that previous experience, 4 & 5 frame cattle is the way that I want to go. And if we ever hit $5+ corn, it will definately be the way to go!!
What I want to do & am doing, may not be best for everyone else, but it seems to work for me. If it works, what's wrong with it? Big cows, little cows, medium cows... all that matter is that it works, IMHO!!
BTW, I expect critics, my dad was one of the biggest & my brother in-law still is..