What could it be? Ohio fair sees rare dairy cattle breed for first time

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RANDOLPH, Ohio – It’s an animal that looks more like a Dalmatian dog than a dairy cow.

Sure, it has ears like a cow and a tail like a cow. It’s even the size of a dairy heifer.

But those spots! Portage County fairgoers had certainly never seen a cow like this before at their fair.

That’s because this is the first year an American Lineback dairy heifer has been at a northeastern Ohio fair.

Joy McCune drove more than three hours to bring Cornflake to this year’s Randolph Fair to show off her rare dairy breed.

Joy and her husband, Shane McCune, have another one of these American Linebacks at their home in Waterford, Ohio. Their two cows are the only registered American Linebacks in the state.

Wide array. The McCunes own approximately 30 cows, including quite a variety. They have Ayrshires, Holsteins, Milking Shorthorns, Brown Swiss, American Linebacks and even a beef cow.

Joy, herdswoman for Schaads Dairy in Waterford, said the cows aren’t for income, they are really more of a hobby. She enjoys having many breeds and also has several “retired” cows – cows that are older and Joy can’t bear to get rid of them.

Worthwhile trip. Joy and Shane drove more than six hours to Pennsylvania to buy their two American Linebacks. After hearing that the cattle were rare and it was hard to find breeders who would part with them, Shane said his wife was “bound and determined to find one.”

They contacted the American Lineback Dairy Cattle Registry, joined the association and bought their first two American Linebacks last spring.

There are about 4,000 females registered in the United States, Joy said.

When asked if they will venture toward Randall Linebacks, which are even more rare, Joy said she isn’t sure. First they would like to expand their American Lineback herd and perhaps breed for sale some day.

They are eager to start breeding the heifers they have now in early spring.

4-H show only. Joy’s sister, Megan Seith, a first-year 4-H member, showed the unusual cow at the 4-H show at the Randolph Fair. Next year, an American Lineback class will be added to the Portage County open class schedule.

The McCunes have already showed their American Linebacks at a district show in Dover, Ohio, and plan to show them at the upcoming Washington County, Morgan County and Barlow fairs.

Comparison shopping. These cows are usually similar in price to Holsteins, and at a yearly American Lineback auction in Wisconsin, the average cow sold for $1,300, the McCunes said.

In addition, these cows are similar in milk production to Holsteins. In fact, Shane said, Cornflakes’ dam produced 35,000 pounds before she freshened. The butterfat and protein content are also similar to Holsteins, Joy said.

The cows can also be bred red and white.

To contact the American Lineback Dairy Cattle Registry call 715-758-8205 or visit www.americanlineback.com.

(You can contact Kristy Alger at 1-800-837-3419, ext. 23, or by e-mail at kalger@farmanddairy.com.)

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