Our April issue features a great story from Marcia Passos Duffy on heritage breeds around the Northeast. What follows is some extensive resources to augment the story.
Heritage Beef Breeds Suitable for the Northeast
Information courtesy of the ALBC
- American Milking Devon: Brought over to New England by the pilgrims from England as triple-purpose (dairy, beef and draft) cattle in the 1600s. Oxen were draft animals of choice on the Oregon Trail. Replaced by Shorthorn cattle in the 1800s, the Devon was rarely seen outside New England by 1900. The Devon is an extremely hardy breed, able to withstand rugged conditions of the Northeast. The breed reached its low point in the 1970s, with fewer than 100 cattle remaining. It has made a comeback recently due to its popularity as a favorite exhibition animal at historic sites. Cows average 1,100 pounds, bulls 1,600 pounds. Selected for both dairy and beef production, there are approximately 400 American milking Devon in existence, and the population is increasing.
For more information:
American Milking Devon Cattle Association
William & Noreen Blaiklock
388 Arrowsic Road
Arrowsic, ME 04530 USA
- Randall Lineback Cattle: This breed was once common throughout New England. It is thought to have originated in the region from breeding a combination of Dutch, English and French cattle. These historic cattle were originally multipurpose for dairy, beef and oxen. Most of the population was lost in this century through crossbreeding with Holsteins. The "Randall" name of the breed originates from the Randall family of Vermont, who kept a closed herd for more than 80 years. The breed, developed on the rugged terrain of Vermont, is naturally hardy and has a good resistance to disease and parasites. They require minimal shelter from the wind and rain. Open sheds are ideal for wintering these cattle. There are fewer than 200 animals in existence.
For more information:
Randall Cattle Registry, Inc
175 Geer Mountain Road
South Kent, CT 06785-1226 USA
Randall Lineback Breed Association
P.O. Box 797
Berryville, VA 22611 USA
- Highland Cattle: This shaggy-haired breed descends from the native cattle of Highland region of Scotland and was introduced to America in the 1880s. It is hardy, with strong material ability, reproductive efficiency and longevity. It thrives in rough forage and cold, wet climates. Like the other Scottish breeds (Galloway, Belted Galloway and Angus) it is renowned for its excellent beef. This breed is not as rare as the milking Devon or Randall, but is still on the ABLC "recovering" category. There are currently more than 10,000 Highlands in North America.
For more information:
American Highland Cattle Association,
4701 Marion St., Suite 200
Livestock Exchange Building
Denver, CO 80216
Heartland Highland Cattle Association
976 State Hwy. 64
Tunas, MO 65764
Canadian Highland Cattle Society
Knowlton, Quebec, JOE 1VO
What are "Heritage" Cattle?
There is no official certification or designation for a "heritage" breed, says ALBC spokesperson Jennifer Kendall. "It is a term of art rather than science . in general, they are breeds of animals found on your great-grandparents' farm. Those with traits that are adapted to more rugged environments," she says. The ABLC has attempted to capitalize on the brand of "heritage" to establish a market for meat and other products. However, there are criteria that the ALBC uses to determine if a new breed fits the criteria of heritage:
- True Genetic Breed. When mated together, the breed reproduces the breed type.
- Endangered Breed. The breed must be, or has been in the past, "endangered" as defined by the ALBC. The conservation priority list depends on the severity of the endangerment. Categories include: Critical, Threatened, Watch or Recovering. For more information see: www.albc-usa.org/cpl/wtchlist.html
- Long History in the U.S. The breed must be established and continuously breeding in the U.S. since 1925. If the breed is imported, it could be fall under the category of globally endangered.
- Purebred Status. Heritage Cattle must be registered purebred animals or immediate offspring of registered purebred animals. For more information on the parameters of "heritage breeds" see: www.albc-usa.org/cpl/parameters-livestock.html.
Once animals have met the criteria of the "Heritage Cattle" definition, the products must also be evaluated against the criteria established for Heritage beef, Heritage milk and Heritage milk products.
Websites for More Information
- American Livestock Breeds Conservancy: www.albc-usa.org
- Oklahoma State University - Breeds of Livestock: www.ansi.okstate.edu/breeds
- New England Heritage Breeds Conservancy: www.nehbc.org
How to Join the ALBC The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy's mission is to protect breeds of cattle, goats, horses, asses, swine, sheep and poultry from extinction. The Pittsboro, N.C.-based organization conducts census of livestock every five years and develops and maintains a priority list to monitor the progress of endangered breeds. The annual membership fee is $35, which includes a breeders' directory, bimonthly newsletter, access to information on marketing and promoting heritage breeds and products, as well as technical guidance on raising heritage breeds. There are currently 3,000 members, approximately half of which raise heritage breeds.
For more information contact
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy (ALBC)
P.O. Box 477
Pittsboro, N.C. 27312