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1600 – 1100 lbs
Originally triple purpose: beef (rose veal), plowing, milk, few milk them today
The Randall Lineback is a purebred remnant of lineback-patterned cattle once common in New England. Though the origins of the breed are not clear, it is likely to have originated in New England from a combination of Dutch, English, and French cattle. Historically, Linebacks were multi-purpose, used for dairy, beef, and oxen, and served as an integral part of rural New England life for several centuries. The population was not formally organized, except for the brief existence of the Columbian breed association in the early 1900s. Most of the Lineback population was lost this century through crossbreeding with Holsteins.
The "lineback" part of the breed's name describes the characteristic lineback color pattern. The cattle are blue-black with a white line down their backs. The roan coloring on their sides varies from almost black to nearly white, with black noses, eye rings, ears, feet, and teats. Between the extremes are many animals that are blue roan or speckled. All of the variants are stunning, especially against a background of green grass.
The name Randall comes from the Randall family in Vermont, who kept a closed herd of Linebacks for over eighty years. The Randall herd was one of the few herds of Linebacks that was not crossbred with Holsteins. After the death of Everett Randall, however, the herd was dispersed and most of the animals were lost to slaughter. Through a convoluted pathway and with the efforts of American Livestock Breeds Conservancy members, a small part of the herd was saved and has been the foundation for conservation efforts.
Randall Linebacks are medium in size. Some variation in conformation does occur, but the majority of cows have dairy conformation and well-developed udders. The bulls are large and demonstrate good growth rates. A few steers have been trained as oxen, a task at which they excel. Their unusual color, willingness, and ability make them attractive and capable draft animals.
The Randall Lineback breed is distinct from the American Lineback, which includes any dairy animal with the lineback color pattern. Though the American Lineback registry includes some animals of historic breeding, this population falls short of the genetic definition of a breed.
Randall Lineback cattle are critically rare, and the cattle are being closely managed for increasing numbers and maintaining genetic health. With more than 500 in 2015, the breed is more secure now than in the recent past, although additional breeders would ensure its continued survival.
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