Randall Lineback Cattle

Vermont's first official State Heritage Breed

History

Members of the Hamilton herd, looking for a handout

Members of the Hamilton herd, looking for a handout

The Randall Lineback breed of cattle originated in New England. These cows are a mixture of European breeds that were brought to New England in the 18th and 19th centuries. Around the turn of the 20th century, agriculture shifted from subsistence level to more specialized commerical farms. As a result, the early breeds were crossed with more popular dairy breeds like the Holstein and were slowly lost.

A young Randall Lineback

A young Randall Lineback

The Randall family in Sunderland, Vermont, for whom the breed was named, maintained one of the few closed herds that were not crossbred. It is surmised that Samuel Randall, and later his son Everett, cared for this breed for 80 years or more. Although these cows descended from several early breeds a century ago, the Randall family kept them in isolation for so long that they became their own breed. Randall cattle are considered a “landrace” breed, defined by Dr. Spenenberg and Carolyn Chistman (authors of A Conservation Breeding Handbook) as a “local population of animals that are consistent enough to be considered breeds, but are more variable in apperance then are standardized breeds”.

Example of the ideal coloring of a Randall Lineback cow

Example of the ideal coloring of a Randall Lineback cow

In January 1985 the Randall Linebacks were in trouble. Everett Randall passed away, leaving the breed with an uncertain future. Luckily, during the dispersal of the herd, some small groups were sold to people who were interested in the conservation of the breed. Thanks to the concern of these individuals, the breed has been brought back from near extinction to around 150 animals. The breed is still listed as critically rare by the ALBC (American Livestock Breeds Conservancy), but it is our hope that under the care of those who own these animals, the breed will soon flourish and find a new niche in small home herds, grass-based dairy and beef herds.

About

Randall Linebacks are a rare breed of cattle which originated in Vermont and are steadily gaining popularity. Here you will find photos and stories about my own Randall Linebacks, as well as my experiences on New England dairy farms.

My childhood home, Randall Farms of Mt. Sinai, NY is also a subject near and dear to me. I have been collecting photos and memories and will share some of them here.

(The name is a coincidence; historic Randall Farms and the Randall Lineback breed bear no known connection.)

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