Front Cover
 Historic note
 Selection of the breed
 Selection of the breeding herd
 Herd management
 Feed and pasture
 Shipping cattle

Group Title: Bulletin - Agricultural Extension Service ; 104
Title: Beef production in Florida
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00024087/00001
 Material Information
Title: Beef production in Florida
Series Title: Bulletin
Physical Description: 35 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Sheely, W. J
Shealy, A. L
Publisher: Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1940
Subject: Beef cattle -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by W.J. Sheely and A.L. Shealy.
General Note: "May, 1940".
Funding: Bulletin (University of Florida. Agricultural Extension Service) ;
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00024087
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 002571021
oclc - 44697920
notis - AMT7335

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 35
    Historic note
        Historic note
        Page 3
    Selection of the breed
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
    Selection of the breeding herd
        Page 11
        Page 12
    Herd management
        Page 13
        Page 14
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
    Feed and pasture
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
    Shipping cattle
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
        Page 33
        Page 34
Full Text

Bulletin 104 May, 1940



Printed by




F -


(Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914)
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida, Florida State College for Women
And United States Department of Agriculture, Cooperating

H. P. ADAIR, Chairman, Jacksonville R. H. GORE, Fort Lauderdale
W. M. PALMER, Ocala N. B. JORDAN, Quincy
C. P. HELFENSTEIN, Live Oak J. T. DIAMOND, Secretary, Tallahassee

JOHN J. TIGERT, M.A., LL.D., President of the University
WILMON NEWELL, D.Sc., Director of Extension'
A. P. SPENCER, M.S., Vice-Director and County Agent Leader
JEFFERSON THOMAS, Assistant Editor1
CLYDE BEALE, A.B.J., Assistant Editor'
E. F. STANTON, Supervisor, Egg-Laying Contest
RUBY NEWHALL, Administrative Manager'

W. T. NETTLES, B.S., District Agent
H. G. CLAYTON, M.S.A., District Agent, Organization and Outlook Specialist
J. LEE SMITH, District Agent and Agronomist
R. S. DENNIS, B.S.A., Assistant District Agent
A. E. DUNSCOMBE, M.S.A., Assistant District Agent
R. W. BLACKLOCK, A.B., Boys' Club Agent
E. F. DEBUSK, B.S., Citriculturist
A. L. SHEALY, D.V.M., Animal Industrialist'
HAMLIN L. BROWN, B.S., Dairyman
N. R. MEHRHOF, M.AGR., Poultryman'
D. F. SOWELL, M.S.A., Assistant Poultryman
WALTER J. SHEELY, B.S., Animal Husbandman
L. T. NIELAND, Farm Forester
C. V. NOBLE, PH.D., Agricultural Economist'
D. E. TIMMONS, M.S.A., Agricultural Economist, Marketing
CHARLES M. HAMPSON, M.S., Agricultural Economist, Farm Management
R. H. HOWARD, M.S.A., Asst. Agr. Economist, Farm Management
GRAY MILEY, B.S.A., Asst. Agr. Economist, Farm Management
JOSEPH C. BEDSOLE, B.S.A., Asst. Economist, Farm Management
RUBY BROWN, Asst. Home Economist
R. V. ALLISON, PH.D., Soil Conservationist'

MARY E. KEOWN, M.S., State Agent
LUCY BELLE SETTLE, M.A., District Agent
RUBY McDAVID, District Agent
ETHYL HOLLOWAY, B.S.H.E., District Agent
ANNA MAE SIKES, B.S., Nutritionist
VIRGINIA P. MOORE, Home Improvement Agent
ISABELLE S. THURSBY, Economist in Food Conservation
CLARINE BELCHER, M.S., Clothing Specialist

A. A. TURNER, Local District Agent
BEULAH SHUTE, Local District Agent

Beef Production in Florida 35

Horses.-There should be sufficient cow ponies to handle the
cattle and ride the range. A good cow horse should be not too
high off the ground-14 to 15 hands high-and weigh some-
where between 900 and 1,000 pounds and be in good condition.
A compactly built horse, close coupled, flank well down, having
a wide chest, and standing with front feet fairly wide apart is
desirable. This animal should have a good back, muscular
quarters, short cannon bones, a substantial medium length neck,
and a well turned head, denoting brains.
Automobiles and Trucks.-Automobiles and trucks are a neces-
sary part of the equipment of a farm or ranch set-up. Automo-
biles save the horses many trips and the truck takes the place
of the wagons of former days.


The publications in this collection do
not reflect current scientific knowledge
or recommendations. These texts
represent the historic publishing
record of the Institute for Food and
Agricultural Sciences and should be
used only to trace the historic work of
the Institute and its staff. Current IFAS
research may be found on the
Electronic Data Information Source

site maintained by the Florida
Cooperative Extension Service.

Copyright 2005, Board of Trustees, University
of Florida



HERD MANAGEMENT ......... 13
FEED AND PASTURE .......... ... 20
MARKETING ........ ....... ......... 28

Since the early importation of cattle by the Spaniards more
than three centuries ago, the cow has been an important source
of income to Florida farmers and ranchmen. Sufficient and well
distributed rainfall throughout a long growing season, favorable
climate, growth of native grasses and leafy crops, available cheap
lands, and a ready nearby market are factors favoring a beef
cattle industry in Florida.
At first the livestock industry, like farming, was confined to
localities where climatic and soil conditions, particularly during
the winter months, were especially favorable. Keeping cattle
on the range throughout the year with very little supervision
and without any attempt at winter feeding of either roughages
or concentrates, and conducting the business over vast areas on
a large scale with a minimum of overhead expense, made it
possible to raise cattle at exceptionally low cost. Many pioneer
families built sizeable cattle businesses and small fortunes in
the past by this method of beef production.
According to census and yearbook reports there has been
considerable fluctuation in numbers of cattle during the last 50
years. In 1890 there were 483,000 cattle in Florida. Twenty
years later the number was 845,000, an increase of 75 percent.
During the same period cattle numbers in the United States
increased 7.2 percent. During the next 10 years, 1910 to 1920,
Florida's cattle decreased 24 percent while the nation's cattle
numbers increased 71/2 percent. From 1920 to 1930 Florida
cattle decreased 32 percent while the nation's decrease was 4
percent. During the last 10 years there has been a substantial
increase in cattle numbers of the Nation and of Florida.

'This is a Revision of Experiment Station Bulletin 260.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Prices paid for beef have been one factor contributing to
fluctuations in cattle numbers. The purchasing power of beef,
like that of other commodities, seems to follow a rather definite
cycle. Generally, when cattle are plentiful prices are low and
when cattle are less plentiful prices are higher. However,
fluctuations in Florida cattle numbers cannot be wholly credited
to these cycles.
No doubt the chief factors contributing to Florida's decrease
in cattle numbers were restricted markets, nutritional deficien-
cies, and the presence of cattle fever ticks. Quarantine regula-
tions prohibited shipping to open markets, discouraging efforts
in cattle operations; many cattlemen sold out their cattle ahead
of tick eradication; and nutritional deficiencies hindered repro-
duction. Since 1930 the cattle tick has been nearly exterminated.
Salt sick and other mineral deficiencies have been overcome;
pasture and herd improvement methods have been put into prac-
tice; and market facilities and conditions have improved, result-
ing in a healthy, substantial growth in cattle numbers and in
quality of the animals. Thus it seems that beef production is
on a more substantial basis.
With the passing of the tick, the discovery of methods to
overcome mineral deficiencies, and improvement in marketing
conditions and facilities, there is a need for more efficient
methods in breeding and selection of the foundation animals and
in pasture and feed production.
The first requisites for the success of a beef cattle project,
whether farm or ranch, are adequate equipment, ample water
supply, and sufficient range or pasture, and other land to insure
a complete yearly cycle of feed and pasture sufficient to supply,
maintain, and develop a herd of beef cattle. All of these
requisites should be on hand before any cattle are secured. It
is necessary also to secure all information possible on beef cattle
projects, visit producers, observe their methods of operation,
determine the factors that contribute to their success, and
secure data on experimental beef cattle investigations.
What is the best breed of beef cattle? In most cases the reply
to this question would be, "There is no best breed." No one
breed has any great advantages over others for the production
of desirable beef if placed under suitable conditions. One should
select the breed of his choice since, as a rule, greater success
will be obtained if the cattleman uses his preferred breed.

Beef Production in Florida 5

Regardless of the breed selected, continued efforts in improved
breeding, selection, culling, feed production, pasture improve-
ment, and herd management must be practiced; otherwise, in-
dividuals of low grade will predominate.
Aberdeen-Angus.-The Angus cattle are solid black in color
and without horns. They are very compactly built, have uni-
formly broad deep bodies. Angus mature early and have a
tendency to fatten at any age. They have an enviable record in
the show ring and on the block, producing winning animals of
high dressing percentage and carcasses of finely marbled meat
of first quality.

Fig. 1.-Ideal type Aberdeen-Angus bull.

Mature Angus bulls weigh 1,800 to 2,100 pounds and mature
cows weigh from 1,200 to 1,500 pounds. The Angus breed was
developed in Scotland and first importation into the United States
was made in 1873. The office of the American Aberdeen-Angus
Breeders' Association is at No. 1 Dexter Park Avenue,
Chicago, Illinois.
Herefords.-The Hereford color is distinctive, varying from
a medium to deep red, with white head, breast, belly, crest,
switch, and legs below the knee and hock.
The Hereford represents "good beef type." The body is low,
compact, and blocky with well-sprung ribs, broad loin, wide, well-
rounded smooth hips. Herefords are noted for their constitution
and "rustling" ability and for this reason are popular with range

Florida Cooperative Extension

Fig. 2.-Ideal type of Hereford.
men. On scant pastures and on ranges where the water supply
is limited, Hereford cattle adapt themselves to adverse conditions
fairly readily. Under favorable conditions and in the feed lot
Herefords produce an excellent quality of beef.
Mature Hereford bulls weigh from 1,900 to 2,200 pounds and
mature cows from 1,200 to 1,600 pounds. Herefords are excel-
lent for grading up native and range cattle. When crossed on
native stock they produce animals that mature early and fatten
well. Grade Herefords are popular with cattle feeders.
Herefords were developed in England and first imported to the
United States by Henry Clay and Lewis Sanders in 1817. The
office of the American Hereford Breeders' Association is at
Kansas City, Missouri.
Polled Herefords.-Polled Herefords have the same distinctive
characteristics and conformation as Herefords, with the excep-
tion that they are hornless and transmit this characteristic to
their offspring.
Polled Herefords were developed in America by mating Here-
ford cattle that were naturally polled. This breed was begun in
1901 and, due to popularity of the Herefords and to the hornless

Beef Production in Florida

Fig. 3.-Ideal type of Polled Hereford bull.

offspring, the Polled Herefords have increased in numbers and
popularity. Polled Herefords are eligible to registry in both
the American Hereford Breeders' Association and the American
Polled Hereford Breeders' Association. Office of the latter is in
Des Moines, Iowa.
Shorthorns.-Colors of the Shorthorn vary, reds, whites, and
roans predominating. The Shorthorn is more angular in con-
formation than either the Angus or the Hereford and it excels
both in milk production. The Shorthorn thrives best where
grasses are abundant and feed plentiful. Under these conditions
it is not equalled by any other breed but does not thrive so well
on short grass and scarce feed.
Shorthorns are the largest of the beef breeds. Mature bulls
weigh 1,800 to 2,400 pounds and cows weigh from 1,300 to 1,600
pounds. They were developed in England and first imported to
the United States in 1783. The American Shorthorn Breeders'
Association is at 13 Dexter Park Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
Polled Shorthorns.-The Polled Shorthorn is essentially the
same as the Shorthorn except that it is hornless.


Florida Cooperative Extension


Fig. 4.-Ideal type of Shorthorn bull

Brahman.-The Brahman breed originated in India. This is
the term used in designating all Indian cattle in the United
States. They are referred to as Brahmans in the Gulf Coast
area and as Zebus in South America. There are more than 30
types of Brahmans, depending on the section of India in which
the cattle originated.
All the Indian cattle breeds belong to the species Bos indicus
and are characterized by the prominent hump above the
shoulders, abundance of loose, pendulous skin under the throat
and on the dewlap, navel, and sheath. Good specimens of the
breeds have great depth of body and show considerable depth
of muscling in the loins and hindquarters. The rump is drooping,
although in the best individuals it is rather full and rounding.
The ears are usually long and drooping.
The four breeds in this country are the Nellore, Guzerat, Gir,
and Krishna Valley. The Nellore and Krishna Valley breeds
vary from steel gray to almost pure white. The Gir is medium
sized, a combination of medium shade of brown to a dull red.
The Guzerat is one of the largest breeds. It varies in color
from iron or dark gray to nearly white. Brahmans are noted

Beef Production in Florida

Fig. 5.-Brahman bull.

for their grazing ability, hardiness and ability to withstand
insects and parasites.
Within the last decade an improvement in the general con-
formation of the Brahman breed has been made by careful
selection and management of the foundation breeding stock.
During the last 20 years Brahmans have been used on both
native and purebred beef cattle in the Gulf Coastal area of Texas,
Louisiana, and Florida with varying results. From evidence
now in hand it appears that from one-fourth to three-eighths
Brahman blood in the cow herd is a desirable proportion.
The American Brahman Breeders' Association is at 201 West
Building, Houston, Texas.
Red Polls.-Red Polled (dual-purpose) cattle originated in
England and were imported into the United States in 1873. Red
Polls are smaller than the strictly beef breeds and do not have
so thick covering of flesh in loins and hindquarters. Mature
bulls weigh 1,700 to 2,100 pounds. The bulls are very prepotent
and give uniformity in offspring when bred to native cows.
As with all dual-purpose breeds, it has been hard to fix or hold
a uniform type because many breeders incline to beef production
while others try to develop the milking qualities. They are
characterized by early maturity and fair to good milk flow.

10 Florida Cooperative Extension
Steers of this breed make good daily gains and lay on flesh
evenly. However, they are usually rather leggy, their hind-
quarters are not so well developed, and they lack the heavy flesh-
ing qualities of the beef breeds.

Fig. 6.Ideal Red Polled bull.

Fig. 6.--Ideal Red Polled bull.


Fig. 7.-Ideal type Devon bull.

Beef Production in Florida

Red Polls have given good results in grading up native cattle
of the South but have been used only to a limited extent in
the West.
The Red Polled Cattle Club of America is located at Burchard,
Devons.-Devon cattle (dual-purpose) are solid red in color.
In conformation, they are inclined more to the beef type, being
close-coupled, very compact, and smooth.
Devons are smaller than Red Polls, mature bulls weighing
1,500 to 2,000 pounds and cows weighing 1,100 to 1,400 pounds.
Although Devons make somewhat slower growth and fatten
less rapidly than the beef breeds, they produce meat fine in
texture and of good quality. In New England the breed is used
somewhat extensively, especially on land where grazing is rather
scant or of poor quality. Devon bulls are very prepotent and
have been used very satisfactorily in grading up native range
cattle in sections of the South, especially in parts of Florida
and in southern Mississippi.
There are only a few breeders of purebred Devon cattle. The
American Devon Cattle Club is located at Meredith, New Hamp-
The selection, maintenance, and improvement of the founda-
tion breeding stock of a herd of beef cattle is a real test of a
man's ability as a cattleman.

Fig. 8.--Range cows for foundation stock.

Florida Cooperative Extension

The kind of cows selected for the herd depends on whether or
not the cattle are to go on the range or the farm. The range
cow and the farm cow may be alike in conformation and color
but different in disposition and characteristics. The farm cow
should be kept on the farm and never turned on a range to
hustle for her feed or die.
The range cow should be selected for vigor and beef producing
qualities. She should carry a fair amount of natural flesh and
have a sound udder, showing ability to produce enough milk to
raise a growth calf. She should have rustling ability that
enables her to take care of herself even under unfavorable con-
ditions. Shy breeders and inferior cows should be discarded.
Cattle have been raised in Florida under range conditions for
over three centuries and have developed an ability to rustle for
their feed. Under these conditions, there was little selection
or controlled breeding; consequently, native cattle lack uniform-
ity in color and conformation. However, these native cattle
possess a dominant characteristic of rustling that is very de-
Selection of Bulls.-Bulls are selected for definite purposes.
Real progress in cattle breeding is impossible unless bulls which
make each succeeding calf crop better than the last are consist-
ently used. For the purebred herd more attention should be
given to popular blood lines. For the range herd, while blood
lines should be considered, experience has taught the cattlemen
Fig. 9.-Steers sired by good bulls.

M., .... I

Beef Production in Florida

that bulls raised in the feed lot and not accustomed to rustling
will not do so well when they are turned on the range. The type
of bull and the grade of heifers sired and selected for replace-
ment determine in a large measure the production of the cow
herd for generations to follow.
Since the performance of a bull as a breeder determines his
value in any breeding herd and since the individuality and the
pedigree of a bull are considered as the chief indications of
what might be expected in performance, it is highly desirable
that emphasis be placed upon both of these factors when purchas-
ing a bull. Therefore, when strong individuality is supported by
a good pedigree, the strongest possible guarantee of good per-
formance is combined.

Time of Breeding.-In all cattle operations certain principles
of herd management are necessary for success. One of the most
important items to consider is the time of breeding and the
consequent calving season. With the purebred herd where there
is adequate pasture and feed, calves may be dropped at any time.
In the farm herd, where cattle are produced commercially and
where there is good pasture for spring and summer together
with available field crops for fall and winter, calves may be
dropped in either fall or spring.
Under range conditions where little or no winter feeding is
provided the breeding season should be arranged to have the
calves dropped in the spring, giving the benefit of a full year's
growth of grass. The most successful cattlemen permit the
bulls to run with the cows only during a definite breeding season,

Fig. 10.-A large calf crop is obtained from cows in good breeding condition

Florida Cooperative Extension

otherwise the uneven aged calves do not have a uniform chance
for growth unless there is a good supply of pasture and the
cows produce sufficient milk to nourish the calves.
Number of Cows to the Bull.-In purebred herds and small
farm herds a vigorous mature bull may be allotted 35 to 50 cows.
The number of cows per bull will depend on the age and condition
of the bull. Under range and pasture conditions it is generally
recommended as follows: Two-year-old bulls, 15 to 20 cows per
season; three-year-old-bulls, 20 to 35 cows per season. Generally
speaking, on the range and in large pastures there should be
three to four mature bulls to every 100 cows.
Age of Bulls Put on Range.-Bulls under two years old should
not be put on the range. They will become stunted and will be
injured as breeders. A two-year-old bull turned on the range
for the breeding season and winter fed should give service for
six to seven years.
The Calf Crop.-The annual calf crop is the number of calves
weaned or sold and is a vital factor to the cattle business. Too
often cattlemen fail to pay the proper attention to this important
item with the result that within a few years financial embarrass-
ment and failure overtake them. The annual calf crop must
carry the entire cost of the breeding herd. It follows, then, that
a small calf crop means less returns with the same overhead and
the smaller the calf crop the greater the cost of raising a calf.
The difference in calf crop percentages with practically the

Fig. 11.-Yearling heifers for herd replacement.

Beef Production in Florida

same cow maintenance cost has a marked influence on the pro-
duction cost per calf. For example, with a herd of 100 cows if
the annual cow herd maintenance cost is $1,000.00 and the calf
crop is 90 percent, this would mean approximately $11.10 cost
per calf. However, if the calf crop was 60 percent the per calf
cost would be $16.60. The calf crop percentage is found by
dividing the number of calves raised to marketing age by the
number of breeding cows and heifers of breeding age in the
herd. For example, if there are 100 of these animals and 80
calves were dropped, this would mean an 80 percent calf crop.
If there were 90 cows and heifers of breeding age and 60 calves
raised, this would mean a 662/3 percent calf crop.
Factors Affecting the Calf Crop.-Variation in percentage of
the calf crop from year to year seems to be influenced by feed
and grazing conditions during the breeding season, wintering
of the herd, inherent breeding ability of the cows, the age at
which heifers are bred, mineral deficiencies, the number and
condition of the bulls, and the distribution of the bulls on the
range during the breeding season. It is highly important that
a complete yearly cycle of feed and pasture be provided, salt and
mineral mixture be supplied, and rigid selection of the breeding
stock and culling of shy breeders be practiced.
The lack of constitution and vigor is responsible for low fer-
tility and shy breeders which results in a low calf crop.
Weaning Range Calves.-Calves dropped early in the spring,
under favorable conditions, will attain sufficient size and weight
by summer or fall to be sold either as fat calves, stocker or feeder
calves, or they may be weaned when six to nine months old and
kept within the herd. Early spring calves should never be per-
mitted to follow their mothers in the winter months. To avoid

Fig. 12.-Three-year-old heifers and their calves.

Florida Cooperative Extension

a set-back with the calves when weaning them, they should be
placed in a good pasture with dry cows to keep them quiet.
It is highly important to wean the early spring calves, since
this will give the cows an opportunity to gain in flesh and to go
into the winter in a good condition.
Selection of Heifers.-The most promising heifer calves from
the best producing breeding cows and sired by the outstanding
breeding bulls should be selected for future herd replacements.
These heifers should be weaned in the early fall and kept in a
thrifty, growing condition. As yearling heifers, they should
have access to good pastures separated from the breeding herd
and allowed to attain good growth before they are bred.
Age to Breed Heifers.-Heifers should not be bred until they
have attained sufficient size to care for their calves properly.
Heifers that are bred too young are usually stunted, never
attain their full size and capacity, are poor milkers, and produce
poorly nourished, undersized calves. Many of them lose their
first calves. Many die at calving time, others fail to breed their
second year, and some develop into shy breeders. Breeding
heifers to bring their first calf at 27 months to three years of
age is a good practice.
The most desirable age of first breeding is subject to variation,
dependent to a certain extent upon species, breed, and feed and
Castration.-Bull calves in commercial herds and inferior
calves in purebred herds should be castrated before they are
four months old to avoid "stagginess" in the steers.
There are two methods of castration, the knife and the blood-
less emasculator. When the knife is used on animals intended
for show purposes the incisions are made in the sides of the
scrotum, removing the testicles through these incisions. An-
other method generally practiced is the cutting off of the lower
one-third or one-fourth of the scrotum, removing the testicles
through this incision. It is desirable to scrape the cord in two
rather than sever it by cutting or jerking, which may cause
hemorrhage. An application of the emasculator destroys the
cord and renders the animal sterile.
To protect against screw worm infestation, pine tar oil may
be smeared about the wound to keep flies away. An experienced
person with a knowledge of cleanliness can do the castration
without serious consequences. Animals should be thrown and
held firmly to prevent injury. In castrating older bulls care

Beef Production in Florida

should be exercised in severing the cord to prevent excessive
bleeding. They should not be over-exercised nor driven immedi-
ately before or directly after castration to avoid excess bleeding.
Branding.-It is the common practice among cattlemen to
brand their calves before weaning for it is much easier to identify
a calf while it is following its mother than later. Generally,
calves are caught and thrown while older cattle are branded in
a chute or squeeze.


cJ ,----- ---- ----- ........

0dOe #-OR- - -.-.. C

1frPZ- -aeA-- -- -

Fig. 13.-Common earmarks of cattle. (Courtesy B.A.I., USDA.)

There are two common methods of branding, the hot iron and
a cold iron dipped in a commercial branding liquid. Whatever
method is used, care should be taken to avoid unnecessary burn-
ing or scarring of the animal and to make the brand clear so
that it can be readily identified.
In branding the iron should be hot enough to stamp the
brand without delay but not so hot as to burn the hide. Scorch-
ing the hide to the degree that it will peel is all that is necessary.
Linseed oil or pine tar oil should be applied after the brand. In
using the liquid brand, just enough liquid should be used to get
through the hair and down into the skin and not enough to drain
off or to burn deeply. If too much liquid is used there will be
burning below the brand, making unnecessary wounds and a
jagged brand that is not clear and, also, screw worm hazards
will be increased.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Marking.-Cattle can be permanently marked on the ears or
dewlap. However, the dewlap marking should be discouraged on
account of possible screw worm infestation. The ear marks are
known as crop, over-slope, under-slope, swallow fork, steeple
fork, over-sharp, under-sharp, split, bit over or under, or a
combination of these marks. In marking cattle, a sharp instru-
ment should be used as the cartilage of the ear is usually tough
and it is important to make clean cuts. These cuts or marks
should be treated with pine tar oil to prevent screw worm
Tattooing.-A more permanent method of marking which is
used by breeders of purebred animals is tattooing inside the ear.
The tattooing is done with an instrument with a series of needle
points in the form of letters or numerals dipped in a special
indelible ink. In some cases the indelible ink is rubbed on the
ear after using the needle points. Many of the breed associa-
tions require that young animals be tattooed before registration.
Dehorning.-Horns and choice beef carcasses do not go to-
gether. As a rule, badly bruised carcasses are usually found in
shipments of horned cattle. Feeder steers without horns have
an equal chance at the feed trough in close quarters. They are
more uniform in appearance and more easily handled.
Dehorning should be done when the animals are young. When
older animals are dehorned there is greater danger from loss of
blood, infection, and fly infestation. Horns are removed by the
use of caustics, by mechanical dehorners, and by the saw. The
simplest and most humane way is by the use of caustic soda or
caustic potash on young calves up to about two weeks old.
Clip off the hair around the button or where horns are forming,
a space about the size of a quarter. Rub the outside of this
ring with vaseline and then moisten the stick of caustic and rub
three or four times on each small horn, allowing the caustic to
dry each time before applying more. Care must be taken not
to permit the caustic solution to run down as this may cause
blindness and sores and screw worm infestation. The calves
should be kept out of the rain, since water will wash this caustic
down on the side of the face.
There are two types of mechanical dehorners, one for use on
younger calves and the other on older cattle. The horn should
be removed with about one-fourth inch of skin around its base
to make certain that the horns are destroyed and Allow the skin

Beef Production in Florida 19

Fig. 14.-Dehorners suitable for using on young calves.

Fig. 15.-Mechanical dehorners.

Florida Cooperative Extension

to grow over the wound. A fly repellent should be applied
immediately after the operation.
In dehorning older cattle, use the clipper. However, clippers
may crush the horn, making a jagged wound. Therefore, with
older animals a saw is preferable, since there will be less loss of
blood and less injury done to the animals. Some cattlemen
dehorn calves with a hot iron. This iron, about the size of a
quarter, is applied to the small button horn and burns it out
similar to a brand.

Fig. 16.-A dehorning saw.
Regardless of the size or class of the beef cattle operations,
there must be a complete yearly cycle of feed and pasture if
the enterprise is to prosper. Pasture furnishes the cheapest
feed for beef cattle and is the mainstay of the industry. There-
fore, every effort should be made to preserve and improve the
grazing areas.
Throughout Florida, arrangements should be made for winter-
ing cattle, since even under our favorable conditions losses can
be prevented by preparation for winter feeding. In the southern
area this can be accomplished by grazing practices and pasture
improvement. Through the central and northern areas of the
state this can be accomplished by providing Napier grass, sugar-
cane, sorghum, and various silages, velvet beans to be grazed in
the fields, and hay. These wintering feeds need to be supple-
mented by a protein feed. Cottonseed meal or cake is usually
the cheapest source of protein. Peanut meal may be substituted
for cottonseed meal but it should be fresh and sweet.
Pasture.-On various soil types the native grasses furnish
good grazing. The prairie and hammock lands have greater
carrying capacity than the sandy flatwoods and blackjack ranges

Beef Production in Florida

Fig. 17.-Cattle on velvet beans.

and sand hills. Whatever pasture improvement methods are
contemplated the value of the native grasses should be con-
sidered. The carrying capacity of these areas will range from
one cow on one to five acres on the best lands to one animal on
10 to 30 acres on the light soil types.
Improvement of the pasture and the range and increasing
the carrying capacity can be effected by destroying weeds, briars,
and bushes and giving the grass an opportunity to grow. Num-

Fig. 18.-Cows wintered well bring and raise good calves.

Florida Cooperative Extension

bers of cases are on record in which the grazing capacity of an
area has been increased from 25 to 50 percent by destroying
the weeds and briars, using a mower or weed cutter, thereby
giving the grass the sole use of the land.
Time was when the whole country was free range. Conserva-
tion and pasture improvement were not considered. With the
increase of population and of farms, the development of modern
highways, and the great demand for grazing lands and grazing
rights, pasture improvement has become a vital factor in the
cattle business.
Much experimental work has been done on pasture grasses,
resulting in an improved grass for most soil types in the state.
Coupled with the native grasses, under proper management, the
improved introduced pasture grasses often afford a longer graz-
ing period.
The main grasses used for pasture improvement are carpet,
Dallis, Bahia, centipede, and Para. Generally speaking, Dallis
grass does best on damp, heavier moist soils; carpet on damp,
moist, light or heavy soils; while Bahia and centipede do well on
higher areas. Para grass is best adapted to moist soils in the
southern part of the state. It is winter-killed farther north.
All of these grasses except centipede and Para are propagated
by seed.
A well prepared, firm seedbed is necessary for the planting of
these grasses by seed. It is a waste of time, money, and labor to
sow grass seed on unprepared land. Should the little seed fall
to the ground and germinate, the small plants would be shaded
and choked out by the excess vegetation.
Winter Feeding.-Even with the long grazing season in Florida
there is a period over most of the state of from 60 to 90 days

Fig. 19.-Well fed bulls ready for service.

Beef Production in Florida

when cattle should have additional feed. We will never have the
best in cattle until this period of starving is eliminated. A few
dollars' worth of feed and labor may save a cow until grass
comes; then within two months she and her calf will be worth
many times the cost of the extra feed. A starved cow will likely
bring a small and undernourished calf, will give a small amount
of milk, and will fail to breed.
Cows that are in good condition in the fall are much more
easily wintered than thin, emaciated cows. Fat cows may lose
50 to 150 pounds during the winter without harm, provided they
do not get "dead poor." Very thin cows should have sufficient
feed to gain 100 to 150 pounds during the winter to offset the
loss at calving time. Cows in fair condition should have suffi-
cient winter feed to maintain their weight.
Calving time is the hardest time on the cows; hence, cows
that come through the winter in fair flesh, strong and healthy,
bring and raise healthy calves in the spring. Young heifers
that are to calve in the spring should be well fed during the
winter and be separated from the herd. Otherwise many of
them will come through the winter weak and thin and die at
calving time.
Properly and cheaply wintering the breeding herd is a prob-
lem for each cattle owner to solve with his own herd. The
winter rations will be what each producer can most economically
and conveniently furnish and should consist mainly of home-
grown roughages, silage, sugarcane, low grade hay, and velvet
beans in the fields. Herewith are a few suggestions for winter-
ing methods.
Rations for Winter Feeding.- The following daily feeding
practices will aid in wintering cattle:
1. Feeding 2 pounds cottonseed cake per head per day
on pasture or range.
2. Velvet beans grazed in the field.
3. Feeding 15 to 25 pounds silage and 1 to 2 pounds
cottonseed meal.
4. Feeding 10 to 15 pounds hay, preferably legume, and
1 to 2 pounds cottonseed meal or cake.
5. Feeding 25 to 35 pounds freshly cut sugarcane; 2
pounds cottonseed meal or cake.
Winter Feeding Calves. Spring calves weaned in the fall
should be separated from the cows and kept in a growing condi-

Florida Cooperative Extension

tion during the winter. Stunted calves fail to develop into de-
sirable animals. Calves weighing 300 to 400 pounds should gain
50 to 100 pounds in growth of bone and muscle during the winter.
Rations for calves should consist of hay, silage, and concen-
trates with sufficient proteins and minerals to aid in growth and
development. The amount of feed required will depend on the
size of the calves. For calves weighing 300 to 500 pounds, the
following daily rations may be used:
1. Seven to 15 pounds peanut, peavine, or other good
legume hay.
2. Ten to 18 pounds sorghum silage, native hay, and 1
pound cottonseed meal.
3. Ten pounds sorghum silage and 7 pounds legume
(peanut, peavine) hay.
Rations 1 and 3 may well be supplemented with 1 to 2 pounds
of a concentrate mixture composed of 2 parts corn and 1 part
cottonseed meal (by weight).
Winter Feeding Bulls.- Healthy, vigorous bulls sire more
calves than do thin, weak bulls. When bulls are separated from
the herd in the early fall they should be kept in good condition.
Bulls kept on the range that are in poor condition in the spring
will be unfit for service. For herd bulls the following daily
rations may be used:
1. Two to 3 pounds cottonseed cake on good pasture.
2. Two to 3 pounds cottonseed meal; 15 to 20 pounds
silage or 10 to 12 pounds native hay.
3. Fifteen to 20 pounds legume hay.
Where grain is fed, 8 to 12 pounds per day of a mixture of
equal parts (by weight) of cracked corn, wheat bran or mid-
dlings, and oats is a good ration. Half of the quantity of this
mixture may be replaced with cottonseed meal to good advantage.
Feed Troughs.-For feeding cattle in the open, portable feed
troughs mounted on skids are convenient and satisfactory. The
trough should be built of good 2-inch material (except the skids
and the legs which are 4 inches), bolted and braced and with
corners rounded to prevent injury to animals. The top flange,
2 x 8", prevents cattle from pushing feed out of the trough.
The trough should be about 30 inches high for average cattle
and about 24 inches for calves. About two to three feet of
trough space is required for grown animals and less for smaller
cattle. Dehorned cattle require less space than horned cattle.

Beef Production in Florida

Hay Racks.-A well constructed, portable hay rack with
trough bottom will save hay. Roughage or hay fed on the
ground is trampled and wasted.


hc------- -5'-6" -----, -


D E V1Az'-0 I


Fig. 20.-Plans for a large feed trough.

Florida Cooperative Extension


Kt-- 3'-6"-------c


Fig. 21.-Combination hay rack and feed trough.

Creep Feeding.-Feeding grain to beef calves on pasture and
nursing their mothers can only be recommended for high class
cattle. Creep feeding is recommended for cattlemen and farmers
who produce their own corn. Creep-fed calves carry more finish

Beef Production in Florida

and more weight at weaning time; they permit selling at an
earlier age; cows are not suckled down and will gain in flesh
before winter; creep-fed calves usually are worth from $1 to $2
per hundred pounds more than calves not fed.
A mixture suitable for creep feeding calves may be made
of the following feeds:
Cracked or shelled corn. ...-..-..- ..-... 500 pounds
Cottonseed meal.... ..... .................. .. 100 pounds
When older calves have become accustomed to grain feed,
coarsely ground snapped corn may be used, using one-and-a-half
pounds in place of every one pound of shelled corn.
Finishing Steers for Market.-The main objects in fattening
cattle are marketing home-grown feeds, improving quality and
price of steers, and producing manure for soil improvement.
Hence, steer feeding should be a part of the farm set-up. Due
to the farming practices, soil, and climate, steer feeding is re-
stricted to the northern and western parts of the state. Where
steers are fattened in the velvet bean fields, plenty of salt, whole-
some water and bone meal should be furnished. This method of
fattening steers furnishes a market for the beans, saves labor,
and leaves the manure on the land.

Fig. 22.-Florida-raised steer-grand champion at the 1940 Florida Fat Stock Show.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Begin steers on roughage (silage, hay, stover, and hulls) and
small amounts of concentrates (corn, cottonseed meal, and velvet
beans) and take two weeks to 30 days to get them on full feed.
Feed one to one-and-one-fourth pounds of grain for each 100
pounds of live weight except in the case of cottonseed meal.
Never feed over one pound of cottonseed meal for each 100
pounds live weight.
Rations for Fattening Steers.-When velvet beans are to be
grazed, divide the fields to permit the cattle to graze each area
as long as they are gaining.
Suggested rations for each steer per day are given:
1. Silage 25 to 40 pounds
Cottonseed meal 2 to 6 pounds
2. Peanut or peavine hay 12 to 15 pounds
Corn 8 to 10 pounds
Cottonseed meal 2 pounds
3. Silage 25 pounds
Corn 6 to 14 pounds
Cottonseed meal 4 pounds
4. Grass hay 8 to 15 pounds
Velvet beans 2 to 8 pounds
Cottonseed meal 1 to 2 pounds
Many feeds are substituted; for example,
1 pound cottonseed meal equals 2.5 pounds velvet beans.
1 pound cottonseed meal equals 1 pound peanut meal.
1 pound hay equals three pounds silage.

Regardless of the class of animals, the annual crop of beef
should go to market that the cattle outfit may be kept on a
profitable balanced basis. Local conditions and market demands
will determine the class of animals to produce and send to
Local packers have enlarged and improved their plants and
broadened their scope, and have established branch packing
plants within reach of Florida producers. Auction markets have
been established at strategic points. These, coupled with modern
highways, put the producer in close touch with the markets;
hence he can take his choice of marketing his cattle, whether
at home over his scales, at the auction markets, or at the packing

Beef Production in Florida

The prime interest of the cattleman is to get all of his
:laughter animals to the market in good condition. Every dead,
crippled, or bruised animal increases the cost and cuts down on
profits. Therefore the cattleman's interest is extended to the
prevention of losses and injuries of livestock from the farm
and ranch to the market and packinghouse.
Steers finished in the feed lot on silage and a heavy allowance
of concentrates should be prepared for shipment by reducing the
last two feeds of grain and silage by one-half, and increasing
the hay in the ration. Never stuff cattle before loading, since
it is a waste of feed and there is much danger of digestive dis-
orders en route.
Grass-fat cattle driven long distances from pasture to loading
pens should have from two to four hours rest before being loaded
for market.
Cars and trucks should be bedded with four inches of sand to
give the animals a safe footing. Never use straw, cane pomace,
or leaves, since these materials get slippery when wet, thereby
causing injury and loss in transit.
Never overcrowd; overloading means increasing loss from
bruises, cripples, and deads. Load cattle snuggly so they will be
touching but not jamming each other. They will reach their
destination in a much more satisfactory condition with less
shrinkage and loss.
The following table gives an idea of the number of cattle
per car:

Fig. 23.-Well constructed 4-strand barbed wire fence.

Florida Cooperative Extension

Number of Cattle per Car
Average Weight per Head 36-Foot Car 40-Foot Car
300 pounds --.... ................ .....-.. ...-- 56 61
400 pounds .................... .......... ...... 45 49
500 pounds ......................... ........... 40 44
600 pounds ........ -...- ........-............- 36 39
700 pounds ......................... ............. 31 34
800 pounds .. .............. .................. ... ..... 30 33
900 pounds ................................ ...... 24 26
1,000 pounds .. ..............2.. ..........-- -.- 22 24


Fencing.-To operate, control, maintain, and improve success-
fully a high standard of production in the cattle business, pasture
lands should be fenced. Expensive fences are unnecessary. Well
constructed and durable fences are essential in the beef cattle
set-up on range or farm.
Four barbed wires are sufficient. However, many cattlemen
use only three barbed wires. When hogs or goats are to be kept
out, woven wire three-and-a-half feet to four feet high, with
one barbed wire at the top, makes a good but rather expensive
The value and life of a fence depend greatly on the kind and
number of posts used and how the corner and anchor posts are
set in the ground. The distance between posts determines the
number required per mile-12 feet apart, 146; 15 feet apart, 117;
18 feet apart, 97; and 20 feet apart, 88, exclusive of corner

Fig. 24.-Well constructed woven wire fence.

Beef Production in Florida 31

posts. The ordinary roll or spool of barbed wire contains ap-
proximately 80 rods (440 yards, 1,320 feet). Four rolls are equal
to one mile; hence, 16 rolls are required to construct a mile of
four-wire fence.
Recently developed electric fences of one or two strands of
barbed wire can be satisfactorily used on some farms.
Pens, Chutes, Scales.-Where cattle are handled in large
numbers, corrals or pens should be located near a watering place.
Time spent on planning and locating and constructing the pens


`1 10'

Length of Gate 10:0"

(See Gate Details)

.i 0

t--- 60' 0"

Fig. 25.-Cattle pens, showing cutting and loading chutes.


Florida Cooperative Extension

is well worth while in saving man labor, horses, and unnecessary
handling of cattle. Pens and chutes should be built of poles or
lumber. Never use wire on pens and chutes.
.Cutting chutes with swinging gates used when separating vari-
ous classes in separate pens means a saving in labor cost. A
very few men can separate a large number of cattle with the
minimum of labor and not over-exercise the cattle. The saving
in labor and handling the cattle quietly and without excitement
will pay for the chute in one or two seasons.
Marking, branding, and vaccinating chutes.-A properly con-
structed chute with dehorning gate and squeeze insures safety
in handling older cattle whether branding, dehorning, or treating
screw worm infestations.
Small narrow pens for handling calves eliminate injuries from
roping and reduce labor when branding, marking, or treating for
screw worms. All chutes and holding pens should be constructed
of good poles or lumber 2x8" or 2x10" and posts set close enough
together to insure holding the cattle.
Scales.-An up-to-date cattle outfit should have a pair of scales
for weighing.


Fig. 26.-Type of stanchion for dehorning and vaccinating cattle.

Beef Production in Florida

Water Supply.-There should be an adequate supply of good
water. It should be so situated that the cattle will never be
more than two miles away on the range.
Salt and Mineral Supply.-Cattle should have constant access
to salt and mineral supplied from covered boxes.
Placing salt near the watering places tends to make the cattle
over-graze that area near the water. The proper distribution of
cattle over the entire grazing area can be greatly aided by the
proper distribution of the salting places.

.F -
Fig. 27.-A mineral box with three compartments.

Minerals.-On mineral-deficient ranges mineral boxes should
be put along with the salt boxes. These boxes should be divided
into three compartments, one for salt, one for steamed bone
meal, and one for the salt sick mixture.
Silos.-Silos offer one of the cheapest and safest methods of
storing an abundant supply of feed for beef cattle. The various
styles of upright silos and the trench silos have their strong
points. One of the drawbacks in silage and silos is the cost of
construction and the initial cost of machinery for handling
and making silage. However, on a permanent set-up where cattle
are to be kept year in and year out, and the soil will produce
silage crops--corn, sorghum, Napier grass-the silo is an ex-
ceedingly convenient part of the equipment.

34 Florida Cooperative Extension

Housing.-Under Florida climatic conditions it is not necessary
to spend money for housing cattle. Sheds for the horses and *
equipment and feed houses are the only housing needed on a
cattle ranch. Housing on the cattle farm can be limited to a
stable for the workstock, barns for storing feed, and sheds to
save manure where the cattle are wintered or steers are finished
for market. On farms where purebred cattle are being raised
there should be suitable shed room to house feed and workstock
and to accommodate the cows that calve in the winter. These
need not be expensive buildings but mainly good, substantial
buildings with good roofs and slatted or open sides.


-., 1

Fig. 28.-Monolithic concrete silo.


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