Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; 248
Title: A study of range cattle management in Alachua County, Florida
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 Material Information
Title: A study of range cattle management in Alachua County, Florida
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: 28 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Camp, Paul D ( Paul Douglas )
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1932
Subject: Rangelands -- Florida -- Alachua County   ( lcsh )
Cattle -- Florida -- Alachua County   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Statement of Responsibility: by Paul D. Camp.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: Originally presented as: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026392
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000924106
oclc - 18204662
notis - AEN4710
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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


Bulletin 248

June, 1932

Wilmon Newell, Director





Fig. 1.-Cattle on typical flatwoods range.

Bulletins will be sent free upon application to the

John J. Tigert, M.A., LL.D., President of the
Wilmon Newell, D.Sc., Director
H. Harold Hume, M.S., Asst. Dir., Research
Sam T. Fleming, A.B., Asst.Dir., Administration
J. Francis Cooper, M.S.A., Editor
R. M. Fulghum, B.S.A., Assistant Editor
Ida Keeling Cresap, Librarian
Ruby Newhall, Secretary
K. H. Graham, Business Manager
Rachel McQuarrie, Accountant


W. E. Stokes, M.S., Agronomist
W. A. Leukel, Ph.D., Associate
G. E. Ritchey, M.S.A., Assistant*
Fred H. Hull, M.S., Assistant
J. D. Warner, M.S., Assistant
John P. Camp, M.S., Assistant

A. L. Shealy, D.V.M., Veterinarian in Charge
E. F. Thomas, D.V.M., Assistant Veterinarian
W. W. Henley, B.S.A., Assistant Veterinarian
R. B. Becker, Ph.D., Associate in Dairy Inves-
W. M. Neal, Ph.D., Asst. in Animal Nutrition
P. T. Dix Arnold, B.S.A., Assistant in Dairy in-

R. W. Ruprecht, Ph.D., Chemist
R. M. Barnette, Ph.D., Associate
C. E. Bell, M.S., Assistant
J. M. Coleman, B.S., Assistant
H. W. Winsor, B.S.A., Assistant
H. W. Jones, M.S., Assistant

C. V. Noble, Ph.D., Agricultural Economist
Bruce McKinley, A.B., B.S.A., Associate
M. A. Brooker, Ph.D., Associate
Zach Savage, M.S.A., Assistant

Ouida Davis Abbott, Ph.D., Head
L. W. Gaddum, Ph.D., Biochemist
C. F. Ahmann, Ph.D., Physiologist

J. R. Watson, A.M., Entomologist
A. N. Tissot, Ph.D., Assistant
H. E. Bratley, M.S.A., Assistant
E. F. Grossman, M.A., Asso., Cotton Insects
P. W. Calhoun, Assistant, Cotton Insects

A. F. Camp, Ph.D., Horticulturist
Harold Mowry, B.S.A., Associate
M. R. Ensign, M.S., Associate
A. L. Stahl, Ph.D.. Assistant
G. H. Blackmon, M.S.A., Pecan Culturist
C. B. Van Cleef, M.S.A., Greenhouse Foreman

W. B. Tisdale, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
George F. Weber, Ph.D., Associate
R. K. Voorhees, M.S., Assistant
Erdman West, M.S., Mycologist

*In cooperation with U.S.D.A.

P. K. Yonge, Chairman, Pensacola
A. H. Blanding, Bartow
Raymer F. Maguire, Orlando
Frank J. Wideman, West Palm Beach
Geo. H. Baldwin, Jacksonville
J. T. Diamond, Secretary, Tallahassee


L. 0. Gratz, Ph.D., Associate Plant Pathologist
in Charge.
R. R. Kincaid, M.S., Asst. Plant Pathologist
W. A. Carver, Ph.D., Asso. Cotton Specialist
R. M. Crown, B.S.A., Asst. Agronomist, Cotton
Jesse Reeves, Farm Superintendent

John H. Jefferies, Superintendent
Geo. D. Ruehle, Ph.D., Asst. Plant Pathologist
W. A. Kuntz, A.M., Asst. Plant Pathologist
B. R. Fudge, Ph.D., Assistant Chemist
W. L. Thompson, B.S., Assistant Entomologist

R. V. Allison, Ph.D., Soils Specialist in Charge
R. W. Kidder, B.S., Farm Foreman
R. N. Lobdell, M.S., Associate Entomologist
F. D. Stevens, B.S., Sugarcane Agronomist
H. H. Wedgeworth, M.S., Asso. Plant Path.
B. A. Bourne, M.S., Associate Sugarcane Physi-
J. R. Neller, Ph.D., Associate Biochemist
A. Daane, Ph.D., Associate Agronomist
M. R. Bedsole, M.S.A., Assistant Chemist

H. S. Wolfe, Ph.D., Asso. Horticulturist in Chg
Stacy O. Hawkins, M.A., Assistant Plant


M. N. Walker, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Pathologist
W. B. Shippy, Ph.D., Asst. Plant Pathologist
K. W. Loucks, M.S., Asst. Plant Pathologist
C. C. Goff, M.S., Assistant Entomologist
J. W. Wilson, Ph.D., Assistant Entomologist

Plant City
A. N. Brooks, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Pathologist
R. E. Nolen, M.S.A., Lab. Asst. in Plant Path.
A. S. Rhoads, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Pathologist

A. H. Eddins, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Pathologist

West Palm Beach
D. A. Sanders, D.V.M., Associate Veterinarian

Fred W. Walker, Assistant Entomologist
David G. Kelbert, Asst. Plant Pathologist



INTRODUCTION ................... ................... ... ...... 5

CLIMATIC CONDITIONS ..................... ...................... 5

PLAN OF W ORK .................................................. 6

HISTORY OF CATTLE IN THE ALACHUA AREA ........................ 6

DESCRIPTION OF THE FOUR TYPES OF RANGES ......................... 10
Flatwoods .................................................. 10
Prairies or Savannas ............. .......................... 11
Hardwood Hammocks ........................................ 12
Blackjack Ranges ................. ......................... 13

FORAGES FOUND ON THESE RANGES .............................. 14

SUMMER PASTURES .................. ........................... 16

EFFECTS OF BURNING THE RANGES .................... ............ .16

DISTRIBUTION OF CATTLE ............... ........................... 17

CAUSES OF LOSSES ................................................ 18

CATTLE IMPROVEMENT ............... ....... .................. 19

MANAGEMENT AND BREEDING PRACTICES. ............................. 20

FEEDING PRACTICES .................. .............. .......... 22

METHODS OF MARKETING CATTLE ................................... 23

DISCUSSION OF DATA ................... .......... ............. .... 25

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS ................. ................... 27


The State of Florida has 35,000,000 acres of land, of which
6,000,000 acres are in farms. Much of the remaining area was
utilized in the past mainly for forestry and grazing. Owners of
this vast area must derive income sufficient to meet taxes and
other carrying costs, pending reforestation. Cattle grazed on
these lands bring in an annual revenue, and grazing reduces the
fire hazard among growing trees.
The major handicaps of the cattle industry are being solved
with the eradication of the cattle fever tick, and a method whereby
"salt sick" (a nutritional anemia) can be prevented. These open
the way for development of a more extensive and remunerative
cattle industry.
There is a decrease in numbers of cattle on the ranges of Florida
today, as compared with several years ago, yet it is believed that
this industry probably offers as much profit as any other type of
agriculture in the state, when properly managed.
A study of the range cattle industry has been made in Alachua
County on four areas typical of the ranges of Florida, namely
grassy and palmetto flatwoods, prairies or savannas, hardwood
hammocks and blackjack oak ridges. This study presents the
results of actual range cattle management used in recent years.
with such recommendations as have proved to be profitable to
the industry today.
On first observation, the climatic conditions in Alachua County,
Florida, seem to be ideal for cattle. The mild and agreeable cli-
mate, freedom from frost for nearly nine months in the year,
absence of snow or extreme cold in the winter, the summer heat
tempered by cool nights, rain to make the grass grow and dew to
dampen it, certainly make nearly an ideal combination for a
grazing industry. However, there are certain drawbacks. Ac-
cording to the records of the United States Weather Bureau, the
maximum precipitation occurs from June to August, while
*This manuscript was taken in part from a thesis presented to the faculty
of the Graduate School of the University of Florida by Paul D. Camp in
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science.
Mr. Camp was a graduate student and assistant in the Department of Animal
Husbandry, College of Agriculture, at the time the study was made.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

droughts may occur during the fall, winter and even in spring.
From investigations made in this area, losses of cattle have been
caused-by droughts as late as April. Such conditions are excep-
tions, though the past two winters (1930 and 1931) have been
very dry and pastures have suffered for lack of rain. Killing
frosts have occurred as early as November 10 and as late as
April 2. It is evident that the climate is not such as to assure
a continuous supply of succulent pasturage for stock at all times.
During the winter, the annual grasses dry up and the perennials
become tough and unpalatable. In rainy winters, the forages
lose some of their nutritive value by leaching. Cattle lose con-
dition because, at this period, the native vegetation is too unpal-
atable and the range alone is not adequate to maintain them. It
is impossible to correct the faults of climate and this deficiency
must, therefore, be offset by furnishing additional winter feed.

The early history of cattle in Alachua County was secured by
personal interview with early settlers or their descendants, from
county records and from historical libraries. Methods of man-
aging range cattle were studied in the spring of 1931 by con-
tacting the 45 owners of herds consisting of 50 or more range
cattle. This included 7,179 of the 17,609 head of cattle in the
county at that time by actual count. The data were grouped
according to the types of terrain over which the cattle ranged,
as flatwoods, prairie, hardwood hammocks, and blackjack oak
ridges. Information was secured by personal interview with the
owners, and by actual count of the cows, bulls, steers, and calves
at the dipping vats during the tick eradication campaign. [Tick
eradication in Alachua County extended from March, 1930, to
May, 1931, inclusive.] Data as to the age and methods of mar-
keting were obtained from reports of owners, from local markets,
the State Marketing Bureau and others.
In the summer of 1931, areas of burned and unburned range
were located at various points through the assistance of officers
of the United States Forest Service located at Starke, Florida.
The unburned areas had not been burned during the previous six
to 20 years.

Although there are but few authentic published records from
which a definite historical sketch of the cattle industry in the

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

Alachua area can be compiled, yet many sources of information
establish the fact that this area was particularly well adapted to
the cattle industry, and has been so used for over 400 years. It
is generally accepted that cattle were brought into islands ad-
jacent to Florida at an early date, and to the Florida mainland by
the Spanish settlers. The Indians obtained animals and devel-
oped herds from these early introductions.
Two facts seem to establish definitely the point that the Spanish
were the people responsible for introducing cattle into this area,
namely: (a) This section originally consisted of a number of
grants from the Spanish Crown to such persons as could furnish
the necessary supplies, equipment, and stock, and who would
agree to settle on the lands of the newly discovered country.
(b) Many characteristics of the native cattle of Florida today
are the same as those of the Spanish type that ranged the colony
in 1565. They were dual purpose cattle (for milk and beef) like
those found in Spain and Portugal.
As early as 1528, the Spanish visited the Alachua area, and
found it most productive. Buchholz(1) mentions the following:

"The Indians of the Alachua tribe of the Seminoles grew wealthy in
cattle and horses raised on this great prairie and the many small savannas
near it, while their fields in the fertile hammock land around its edges were
so productive and desirable that only a strong and vigilant tribe could hold
Alachua "

Bartram(2) also mentioned vast herds of cattle encountered in
the course of his travels in the vicinity of the Alachua Savanna
(Payne's Prairie). He described the area as follows:

"The extensive Alachua savanna is a level green plain about 15 miles over
and 50 miles in circumference, and scarcely a tree or bush of any kind to be
seen on it At the same time (nearby), are seen innumerable droves of
cattle: the lordly bull, the lowing cow, and sleek capricious heifer."

The area was then settled by a tribe of the Seminole Indians.
These facts suggest that the cattle industry began very early
in this area. The success of the Indians with the industry prior
to 1813 so impressed the Spanish and other settlers that soon
thereafter, requests for grants were made to the Spanish Crown,
one of the principal objects being to raise cattle on this land.

1. Buchholz, F. W.: History of Alachua County, Florida. Record Publish-
ing Co., St. Augustine, Florida. Pages 16, 40, 81, 102-3, 132, 166. 1929.
2. Bartram, William: Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia,
East and West Florida. James & Johnson, Philadelphia. Pages 187-
188. 1791.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Buchholz(1) further states, "The attitude (of the early set-
tlers) toward the Alachua country needed no experiments of their
own, for the Indian horses and cattle of the Prairie land were
famous when William Bartram visited here in 1774, and the
various tribes who at different times farmed the hammock lands
around the prairies had been the best provided with agriculture
of any in the Territory. A memorial to the Spanish governor by
Don Francisco P. Sanchez, the 'Old Floridian,' whom G. J. P.
Clarke, the Spanish Surveyor General, declared had been the sole
source of fresh beef for the destitute inhabitants of St. Augustine
in the Patriot War, indicated what a settler in the Alachua
County area was looking for when choosing lands for a new plan-
tation. Says Don Francisco:
"'St. Augustine, December 18th, 1815.
"'Don Francisco P. Sanchez, native and inhabitant of this province, with
due respect to your excellency, showeth that on the south part of the river
known by the name of Santa Fe, about ten miles to the westward of the
Alachua Road to St. Mary's, there is a great quantity of vacant lands
adapted to cultivation and raising of stock, to which he intends dedicating
himself for the purpose of increasing the same; and as the petitioner has
not obtained any concession of lands on which he can establish himself as
he wishes with all his family and slaves, he, therefore, prays your excellency
will be pleased to grant him four thousand acres of land at said place, bounded
on the north by the river Santa Fe, and on the other sides by vacant lands,
which quantity of acres are necessary, not only on account of the number of
negros he owns, but also for said raising of stock, and many other purposes
relating to a planter, being a favor which he hopes to merit from the good-
ness of your excellency.' "

This survey was completed and the land was granted to Don
Francisco P. Sanchez on December 18, 1815. He located on lands
about two and a half miles square just south of the mouth of
Olustee Creek in northern Alachua County. The Spanish settlers
of this time raised just enough foodstuffs to supply themselves,
and depended on cattle for their cash income.
In February, 1813, Colonel John Williams, of Knoxville, Ten-
nessee, with 400 mounted troops marched against the Alachua
towns to chastise the Indians. He plundered and burned their
homes and took large numbers of their cattle.
Anticipating the demands for grazing lands, Surveyor Clarke
took up in his own name several small plots near Kanapaha Prairie.
At a later date, June 10, 1814, he acquired one thousand acres in
Alachua Hammock at the western part of Payne's Savanna and
an additional 4,000 acres on the west side of Alachua pond. On
June 10, 1816, he added to his holdings 2,000 acres northwest of
Payne's Savanna and other stretches of land suitable for farming
and convenient to grazing.

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

From the foregoing it will be seen that in the time from 1813
to 1816 various parties were acquiring lands in the Alachua area
to be used in cattle production. This period appears to mark the
beginning of the present industry. During the period from 1807
to 1812 the Oklawaha River was open to transportation and this
was followed by the building of the Bellamy Road from St. Augus-
tine to Tallahassee in 1826, thus making the transportation of
cattle to market easier.
As early as 1836 there are records of punishment for cattle
thieving in this area. In October of that year Major Llewellyn
Williams, on patrol, discovered a party of Indians near Kanapaha
pond butchering a beef. They were far off their reservation and
by a law of the territory were subject to a punishment of 39
lashes on their bare backs. Williams' party was administering
this penalty when two Indians appeared and fired on the party,
mortally wounding one of the white men.
Early records indicate that Cuba was the first extensive market
for Florida cattle which were driven to Punta Rassa for shipment.
In 1840, 30,000 head were shipped from that point and from time
to time cattle were exported from a number of other inlets and
ports as well.
Between 1830 and 1850 many cattle were brought into Florida
from the Carolinas, Alabama and Georgia. At least four herds
were driven directly to Alachua County from Georgia before the
Indian War. Some of these early cattle introduced from Georgia,
were said to have been larger and better fleshed than the cattle
owned by the Seminole Indians. They were red or brownish in
color, with larger wide upturned horns. Efforts were made at first
to keep them from becoming mixed with the local cattle.

Fig. 2.-Descendants of

Ayrshire bulls introduced into Alachua County
in 1870.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

The earliest known introductions of improved cattle were a
Devon bull in 1861, a Devon milk cow purchased at Thomasville,
Georgia, and Ayrshire bulls (see Fig. 2) from the Northern
states in 1870. In 1873, Jersey cows were brought in from Leon
County, Florida. The first Brahman cattle known to have been
introduced into the state, were four bulls purchased at Nashville,
Tennessee, by J. S. Turner of Cedar Key in 1880. Red Polled
cattle were brought into this part of central Florida prior to 1900.
Under open range conditions this blood was intermingled with
the native cattle.
Between 1870 and 1900, various introductions were made of
the improved beef breeds. A cattleman in the eastern part of
Alachua County shipped a carload of purebred Hereford bulls
from Texas and turned them onto the range. In the next roundup
nine months later, only three of these bulls were found alive, the
remainder having died probably from tick fever. N. A. Cal-
lison(3) of Gainesville, Florida, owned the oldest registered Here.
ford herd in the South, founded in 1903 with shipments from
Texas. S. H. Gaitskill brought a herd of 25 registered Shorthorn
cattle from Kentucky to McIntosh, Florida, in 1903. A. L. Jack-
son of Gainesville, has used Shorthorn bulls since 1898. The
Hereford herd owned by J. L. Mathews of Alachua was founded
in 1907.


The typical range areas of central Florida were classified by
Sellards(4) and Mooney(5) as the East and Middle Florida Flat-
woods, Prairie (savanna), Middle Florida (hardwood) Hammock
Belt and Peninsula Lime Sink Region (blackjack oak ridges).
These four types of ranges occur in Alachua County.
East and Middle Florida Flatwoods have light gray to dark
gray or black soil, with a high content of vegetable matter, over-
lying light gray or mottled grayish and yellowish sand or sandy
clay subsoils. The content of organic matter incompletely decom-
posed is often so great as to make the surface soil mucky, giving
the material a fluffy feeling referred to in some localities as
chaffyy" land. Occasionally there is a rather compact hardpan

3. Hazelton, J. M.: History and handbook of Hereford cattle and Hereford
bull index. Hereford Journal Co., Kansas City. Page 184. 1929.
4. Sellards, E. H.: Sixth annual report, Florida State Geological Survey.
Pages 254-258, 262-265, 310-319, 326-336. 1914.
5. Mooney, Chas. N.: Soil survey of Payne's Prairie, Gainesville area.
U. S. Dept. Agr. Bur. of Soils Circ. 72: 1-5. 1912.

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

layer of brown organic matter and sand at 12 to 24 inches beneath
the surface, especially in the sand types. Sand predominates in
these flatwoods, although there is considerable fine sandy loam
and some loam. The streams are mostly narrow and little de-
pressed below the general surface. Drainage of the flatwoods,
as a whole, is very poor and the water table is usually close to
the surface.
Open forest of long-leaf pine and a few other trees with an
undergrowth of palmetto, gallberry and wiregrass, bearing the
marks of fire, prevails on most of the drier areas. In the depres-

Fig. 3.-Cattle on typical palmetto flatwoods range.

sions there is much pond cypress, sometimes in almost pure
stands (cypress ponds), but more commonly mixed with evergreen
vines and bushes (bays). The most common plants which afford
grazing for cattle are wiregrass, wild oats, sedges, maiden cane
and occasionally water lily.
The area of flatwoods ranges included in this survey, covered
approximately 62,225 acres.
Prairies or Savannas are level treeless areas supporting a
growth of water-loving plants. Generally, the soils of the prairies
consist of imperfectly drained gray or black land with muck sur-
face soil and light colored or mottled plastic subsoil. The prairies
are intermittently covered by water which retards decay of or-
ganic matter. Vegetation includes maiden cane, bull grass, water
lily, water hyacinth, saw-grass and other aquatic plants.
A considerable acreage of prairie lies within the Alachua area,
Payne's Prairie alone containing over 22,000 acres. However, at

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

the time of this survey, only 4,640 acres of prairie were being
grazed by range herds of 50 head or over. The abundant growth
of grass on the prairies provides a greater carrying capacity per
acre than occurs on the other types of ranges. Killing frosts
reduce the value of prairie range during the winter months.

Fig. 4.-An early morning roundup on typical prairie range.
The Hardwood Hammock soils of the Gainesville area are brown
to reddish brown, well drained, undulating and gently rolling lands
with red or mottled reddish and yellowish subsoils, ranging from
loamy sand to rather stiff clay; brownish to black flat soils over-
lying whitish and yellowish highly calcareous or marl subsoil,
and having fair to poor drainage; light and dark brown and black
soils overlying mottled yellowish, grayish and reddish impervious
stiff clay subsoils and occupying poorly drained to fairly well
drained flats and slopes. The latter occur in small areas. Rock
outcrops are chiefly confined to ravines. The area is dotted with
lime sinks. The prevailing vegetation includes hardwood trees,

Fig. 5.-Native cattle on hardwood hammock range.

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

bays, cabbage palmettos, with an undergrowth of partridge berry,
maiden cane, sedges and grasses. In some places, a growth of
dwarf oak underbrush occurs. These lands are considered the
most fertile in this area.
During this study, hardwood hammock ranges grazed by herds
of 50 head of cattle or over, covered about 6,550 acres. Other
small areas of hammock are scattered throughout the county.
Generally, some highland around the edges of the hammock
ranges affords good grazing during the spring and summer months.
During the winter, cattle in the hammocks are better protected
against the weather, and find grasses that have not been killed
by early frosts. Since the grazing on these ranges is more uniform
throughout the entire year, stock remain in better physical con-
dition than do those on the other types of ranges surveyed.
The Peninsula Lime Sink Region (blackjack oak ridges) is
underlaid with limestone and nearly everywhere is covered by
several feet of pale loamy sand. There are basin-like depressions
and low hills having elevations up to 200 feet above sea level. The
soils are gray surface with yellowish to whitish sandy subsoils.
The subsoils are always friable and well drained. Streams are

Fig. 6.-The wiregrass and broomsedge are more sparse on typical black-
jack ranges.
scarce, generally having their origin in other regions and flowing
through this area without receiving any additional water except
from a few springs. The water from rains sinks into the ground
almost immediately. Practically all of the area was originally
covered by open forest of long leaf pines with an undergrowth of

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

blackjack and turkey oaks. The most common plants are wire-
grass, partridge peas and sedges. These lands are very sandy
and low in fertility. Approximately 13,140 acres of blackjack
ranges were embraced in this study.

The forage plants on the flatwoods, prairie, hammock and black-
jack ranges vary considerably in type and the time of year during
which each is best suited to grazing.
The carrying capacity of the flatwoods in Alachua County
changes little from season to season because plants suitable for
grazing grow throughout the year. During the survey, an aver-
age of one cow per 22.6 acres was found on flatwoods range, al-
though cattlemen estimate this type of range to carry one cow
on 10 acres. Wiregrass is the predominating forage. While the
native grasses are young and tender, the cattle keep in good con-
dition. However, wiregrass contains little protein in proportion
to the other nutrients, the average nutritive ratio being as low as
1 : 28 in the mature plant. Cattle kept exclusively on such forage
do not thrive. They need additional feeds richer in protein during
the winter months.
Not all of the native flatwoods grasses are of such poor value.
Carpet grass and crab grass contain much more protein. They do
not yield as heavily as wiregrass, but more than make up the dif-
ference in quality of the forage provided. The ranges would be
improved by a wider distribution of these better grasses. Carpet
grass is still quite scarce in the flatwoods, but is gaining a hold
in favored places such as ditch banks and roadsides. Cattle spread
the seed of carpet grass over the range. Control of forest fires
also favors the growth and spread of such improved grasses.
Some stockmen believe that the flatwoods ranges should be
burned under controlled conditions, so as to give cattle access to
the short early wiregrass. Although the ranges have been burned
at almost any season of the year, these stockmen prefer to burn
during the dormant (winter) season at a time when the soil is
damp. Several made a practice of burning every three years,
rotating the areas burned. By this practice, they planned to
leave the broad-bladed grasses and other plants for grazing in
the roughs and on the unburned lands. In case of late burning,
wiregrass and the sedges upon the burned areas are palatable for
about 90 days. Then the cattle leave the burned areas and go
to the roughs to look for better grasses. Many of the broad-
bladed grasses are killed by indiscriminate burning.

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

The prairie range affords many desirable grasses useful for
grazing. Because of the abundance of grass on this type of range,
less area is required per cow than on the flatwoods. The survey
showed 6.1 acres grazed per cow in 1931. This type of range was
undergrazed, for the established custom of these prairie ranges
has been to allow one animal per acre during nine months of the
year. The prairie grasses are killed by the first frost, leaving
little for the cattle to eat during the winter months. Maiden
cane is the predominating prairie grass, while bull grass and
many other water-loving plants are found. The damp soil on the
prairie does not warm up in the spring as early as do flatwoods
soils, and hence the grasses are later in starting growth. It is
quite essential to have the proper number of animals grazing to
the acre so as to control weeds that shade out many of the desir-
able grasses. The grazing season on the prairies begins about
March 15 and lasts until about the middle of November. The
cattle must then be either winter-fed or driven to highland pas-
tures on other ranges. Prairie ranges seldom are burned, so it
is unnecessary to consider the effects of fire upon these grasses
and plants.
On the hammock ranges, the broad-bladed grasses, ferns and
other forage plants grow. Hammock range is desirable for
winter grazing because of the protection afforded livestock by the
forest cover of magnolias, bays, oaks and other trees. Cattle
find good grazing here long after the vegetation elsewhere has
been killed by frost. Due to the numbers of insect pests in the
hammocks, cattle seldom voluntarily remain on these areas until
after the coming of cooler weather. During this survey, 4.6 acres
were being grazed per animal, which is about full carrying ca-
The blackjack range constitutes an appreciable proportion of
the Alachua area, as well as of the state of Florida. Wiregrass,
occasional sedges and little underbrush are typical forages on
this range. These areas have been burned over annually for
many years. The lands are very poor for grazing, requiring many
acres per cow. The cattlemen reported 10.6 acres of owned and
leased blackjack range being used per cow, but this did not include
unfenced adjacent lands. From 22 to 25 acres of blackjack range
is the usual acreage required to graze an animal during the year.
In the majority of cases, the cattle had unlimited range of this.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

The pastures used for summer grazing in Alachua County are
composed mainly of native grasses on wild open lands. Farley
and Greene(6) have discussed feeding practices on an area similar
to that in this county, as follows:

"The most abundant native grasses are wiregrass and broomsedge, and
in addition carpet grass and lespedeza are found in pastures protected from
fire. The native pastures furnish good grazing from early spring until
about the first of July, and the carrying capacity is relatively high. After
that time, the wiregrass and broomsedge begin to mature, and grazing is
inferior, only the growing tender portions being eaten by cattle. The grazing
then changes largely to paspalums and (other forages), and cattle re-
quire unlimited range to maintain themselves.
"Although there is usually an abundance of dead grass left on the range
during fall and winter, it contains very little food value and serves only as
a filler. Cattle will not eat it, if any other forage is available. Winter
pastures on low moist land consist almost entirely of canebrakes and carpet
grass, both of which are usually limited."

Wiregrass constitutes the principal growth on Alachua pastures,
and furnishes good grazing during the early spring. Broom-
sedge takes possession of old fields and waste places throughout
the area. It also furnishes fairly good grazing early in the spring.
Cattle make good early gains, but do not relish either of these
grasses as they mature. Carpet grass will stand closer grazing
and heavier tramping than any other local pasture grass, solid
stands of it occurring only where it is closely grazed. Bermuda
grass is found mainly along roadsides, ditches and in abandoned
fields. Lespedeza is distributed sparsely on this area. Maiden
cane grows quite abundantly on moist lands, and has a high feed-
ing value if not allowed to become too woody. Cattle are marketed
direct from these cane pastures.


Burning was practiced with the inception of the turpentine
industry to protect the trees from accidental outbreaks of fire.
The leaf litter was collected and burned under control. Many
ranges have been burned over regularly since that time. Research
concerning the effects of burning upon the soils, forests, and
forage crops is being conducted by a number of agencies. It is a
controversial subject requiring further investigation before any
conclusions can be drawn.

6. Farley, F. W., and S. W. Greene: The cutover pine lands of the South for
beef cattle production. U. S. D. A. Bul. 827: 1-42. 1921.

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

The reasons advanced by the cattlemen for burning the range
are (a) to stimulate early growth of grass, (b) to remove dead
grass, and (c) to control
the growth of brush and
weeds. Controlled rota-
tion burning once in ev-
-- ery two or three years is
practiced on the flat-
woods. It is believed
that with moisture con-
ditions correct the turf
is not injured. This
practice is interfered
with by other persons
whose carelessness may
fire the woods at any
n and all seasons of the
year. The cattlemen
believe that nothing is
t gained by burning the
vegetation on the prai-
Figure 7.-This range has been burned an- ama, a -
nually with little regard to dormancy of the rie, ham oc k, and
grass or amount of soil moisture, as shown blackjack ranges where
by the damage to the grass cover, the undergrowth is thin.
It is rather well established that the bunch grasses such as
broomsedge and wiregrass predominate on the ranges that are
burned. They are better able to withstand burning. Whether that
is the sole reason for their prevalence is not definitely known. As
forage plants they are not as desirable as the broad leaf grasses
and legumes because of their shorter grazing season, lower palata-
bility, and lower content of nutrients. The combined effects of
burning upon forest trees, forage crops, and soils must be ascer-
tained and evaluated before the practice of burning can be either
recommended or condemned for the best utilization of the land.


The distribution of cattle on the four types of ranges during
the survey and the number of acres grazed per animal, as com-
pared with the stockmen's estimates of average carrying capacity
of these ranges, are given in Table I. The decrease in numbers
of cattle noted in the past three decades was attributed to a num-
ber of causes, including changes in ownership of range lands, the

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

no-fence law and reduction of herds in anticipation of compulsory
dipping. Other factors mentioned were the use of lands for
farming purposes, and changing economic conditions.

Acres per animal Numbers of cattle*
Numbers Area of average Ratio Ratio
Types of of range y carrying 1920 to 1900 tc
range cattle (acres) Actual capacity 1930 1930
Flatwoods .... 3,800 85,880 22.6 10 10:1 30:1
Prairie ....... 755 4,650 6.1 1 23:1 46:1
Hammock ..... 1,396 6,560 4.1 5 4:1 8:1
Blackjack ..... 1,228 13,140 10.4 22 6:1 30:1
*Number of cattle in 1930 compared with 1920 and 1900, showing decrease.
yAcres grazed by range cattle included in this survey.

Of the cattle studied in this survey, 28 out of every 1,000 head
died during the year from various causes. Almost 3 percent of
the cows and 6 percent of the calves died from causes such as
"salt sick," a small outbreak of hemorrhagic septicemia, "nat-
ural causes" and a few other scattered causes. As systematic
tick eradication had been in progress for 10 months, no losses
were incurred from tick fever. The most outstanding regular
cause of loss, especially among young range cattle, was "salt sick,"
known to be a nutritional anemia.
The areas on which salt sick was reported are in palmetto flat-
woods and blackjack ridges where the soils are largely deep white
and gray sands, without the presence of red clay. These soils
are deficient in iron, or in iron and copper, yet may be immediately
adjacent to, but separated by a fence from, healthy range on
sedimentary clay-containing soils. The case of two adjacent
pastures illustrates this point. The healthy range was located
along a creek from which cattle drank water. It had outcrops of
clay and lime on its banks. The fence was located 150 yards to
the west. The range beyond this fence was on high dry sand
ridges, and the cattle on it were affected with "salt sick." Evi-
dently the soils of the former range contain sufficient amounts of
the essential minerals needed by cattle. By shifting these cattle
from one range to the other at regular intervals, this trouble was
held in check to a large extent because the animals obtained forage
which permitted them to restore their mineral reserves.
Becker, Neal and Shealy(7) found that "salt sick" occurs on
white and gray sandy soils, and on muck soils which have no clay,

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

and that affected cattle recover when changed to clay ranges.
They found the condition to be caused by lack of iron, or copper
and iron, in the forages grown on such lands. They recommend
the use of an iron-copper-salt lick for the correction of this con-
dition. The proportion of this mixture is 100 pounds of common
salt, 25 pounds of red oxide of iron and one pound of pulverized
copper sulfate, thoroughly mixed. The mixture may be placed
in salt boxes at convenient locations on the range, where cattle
have free access to it. The extent of the losses caused by salt
sick in this area cannot be determined fully, since owners classed
it as among natural causes of death in many instances.
Some losses occurred through theft, but an accurate number of
such losses could not be determined.

Some cattlemen in this area have used purebred beef bulls for
many years to improve the native range animals. The numbers
and breeds of bulls in use on Alachua County ranges at the close
of the tick eradication campaign are shown in Table II. At the
time this survey was made, 270 bulls were in service in these 45
herds of range cattle. Of these, 117 were beef-bred animals.
Thirty-eight registered Aberdeen Angus, Hereford and Shorthorn
bulls have been purchased since this survey was completed. Be-
fore systematic tick eradication, many cattle newly introduced
onto open ranges died of tick fever, while others were affected so
seriously as to impair their usefulness. One cattleman used grade
Brahman bulls to increase the resistance against tick fever. The
demand for improved purebred bulls has shown a decided increase
since this area has been declared tick-free.
Aberdeen Brahman
Range Angus grades* Hereford Shorthorn Native
In Since In Since In Since In Since In Since
1930 1930 1930 1930 1930 1930 1930 1930 1930 1930
Flatwoods 5 2 78 0 5 9 4 0 31 0
Prairie 1 3 0 0 1 9 3 0 17 0
Hammock 1 0 0 0 6 5 2 2 87 0
Blackjack 8 0 0 0 3 9 0 0 18 0
Total 15 5 78 0 15 31 9 2 183 0
*Brahman grades were introduced primarily because of their resistance to
the cattle fever tick (Margaropus annulatus) but since the eradication of this
pest in the Alachua area, this reason for their use no longer exists.'
7. Becker, R. B., W. M. Neal and A. L. Shealy: I. Salt Sick: Its cause and
prevention. II. Mineral supplements for cattle. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta.
Bul. 231: 1-23. 1931.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station


For many years free range prevailed in this area on unfenced
lands held by timber owners and others. Little provision was
made for systematic management of the cattle to regulate breed-
ing season or time of calving. In this survey, counts were made
to determine the proportion of bulls to breeding cows, and the
percentage of calf crop. As shown in Table III, the average num-
ber of cows per bull was quite uniform on the four types of ranges,
though wide variations existed in some herds. In all but two
herds, bulls were allowed to run with the cows the entire year.
The most outstanding factor which influences the calf crop is
the character of the ranges. Feed conditions under which the
breeding animals live exert a profound influence on their physical
condition, and thereby affect reproduction. Upon the open range,
little consideration was given to herd management since the cattle
grazed freely over a wide area.
Range Cows per bull Percentage calf crop
Minimum Maximum Average Minimum Maximum Average
Flatwoods 4 83 33 20 50 34.4
Prairie 7 40 34 20 75 54.1
Hammock 12 43 31 20 90 71.6
Blackjack 16 34 30 15 100 37.1

From the survey of the four areas-flatwoods, prairie, ham-
mock and blackjack-the percentage calf crop was found to be
variable. The average on the flatwoods ranges was 34.4 percent,
while on the hardwood hammocks a 71.6 percent calf crop was
found. This difference can be attributed to several factors, the
most striking of which was the physical condition of the adult
breeding animals. On hammock ranges, more and better feeds
are available during the entire year, therefore the breeding an-
imals remain in better physical condition. On flatwoods and black-
jack ranges, the cattle make rapid gains during the spring and
early summer, but undergo losses in the fall and winter as the
grasses become less palatable. The nutritive quality of the grass
is an important factor. On the prairie ranges, grasses begin
growth later in the spring, and delay early breeding of the cows
due to their poor physical condition. It is commonly believed that
there is a difference in the breeding efficiency of bulls on the dif-
ferent kinds of ranges.
Within comparatively recent months, the influence of salt sick
upon breeding efficiency of cattle has been observed. When herds

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

were found affected with salt sick, the calf crop was very small,
even as low as 15 percent. With the cause of this condition
known, and preventive measures taken, the percentage of calves
can be increased.
In a few instances, it appeared that there were too few bulls
for the number of breeding cows. Some cattlemen believed that
too infrequent change of bulls, advancing age, heavy service when
too young, presence of steers and sterile cows in the herds, tended
to reduce the calf crop. Allowing the calves to suckle their dams
too long retards the succeeding calf crop.
By the time calves are six to 10 months old they should be
weaned. Spring calves should be weaned in the fall, and fall
calves in the following spring. Cows need 30 to 40 days in which
to put on flesh before winter. When bulls run with the cows
the entire year, it is impossible to control the season of calving,
or to wean the calves at a uniform time.
The cattle are rounded up in the early spring and fall months
for marking, branding and castrating calves. They are driven
into pole pens built at suitable locations on the range, where the
calves are branded on the hips or shoulders. At the same time,
the ears may be clipped with some designated mark, or a slit may
be made in the dewlap. Marks and brands are recorded in the
county records. Dehorning is not practiced in this area with
range cattle.
Bulls of several beef breeds are in use in Alachua County.
Choice of a breed depends entirely upon the preference of the
individual cattleman. Within recent months more Hereford bulls
have been introduced, perhaps because of more active salesman-
ship of the Hereford breeders. In earlier years, the cattlemen in-
troduced bulls of several beef breeds on these ranges, but with very
poor results because of losses from tick fever. One breeder has
crossed native cows with Brahman bulls. Regardless of breed or
type of range grazed, preference was expressed for grade cattle
carrying from 50 to 75 percent of some pure breed, as the cattle-
men believed that some of the higher grades do not rustle as well
for feed on the unimproved ranges. Higher grade Hereford cows
appear to supply less milk to their calves than do some of the
native cows. Other small objections made to the different pure
breeds of beef cattle were of little importance.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Cattle within this area depend mainly on pasture and range
grasses. None of the stockmen use supplementary feeds with
range cattle during the summer months. The cattle are allowed
to range over comparatively large areas. -
Where the ranges are owned, the local cattlemen supervise
their herds with little additional labor. The majority of the men
lease their pastures from other owners. The usual fee charged
for grazing privileges was $1 per head per year, when the lessee
constructed and maintained the fences. On some areas, grazing
privileges were secured for payment of taxes on the land.
The range fences usually have four strands of barbed wire on
posts set 14 feet apart, and are built for approximately $100
a mile.
Local cattlemen have found a combination of velvet beans and
corn to be the feed crop best adapted for wintering range stock.
Of the 45 herds, three had no access to velvet beans and corn, or
to oats, rye or other field crops during the winter. The additional
cost of planting velvet beans with corn was estimated to be about
$2.50 per acre. One to 11/ acres will winter a mature cow. It is
believed that the cattle obtain a more nearly balanced ration when
allowed to graze alternately on woods pasture and then on the
velvet beans.
Only a small amount of forage is cured into hay in this county.
Cowpeas and peanut vines sometimes are used. Crabgrass, Mex-
ican clover and beggarweed volunteer on lands in this area, but
are less important as hay crops for wintering range cattle.
Cottonseed meal and other concentrated feeds were not used
to any extent in the county for wintering cattle.
Shealy(8), at the Florida Experiment Station, wintered two-
year-old steers on a daily ration of 11.8 pounds of peanut hay and
3.23 pounds of equal parts of ground snapped corn and velvet
beans. Over a 90-day period, the average gains on this wintering
ration were 36.9 pounds per steer.
Although none of the local cattlemen were using silage, interest
was shown in the possible success of trench silos to use in storing
winter feed. There is also interest in improved pasture grasses
that will furnish forage of higher quality over a longer grazing
On poor pastures, range cattle were observed grazing at all
hours of the day, whereas on better pastures they ordinarily graze
8. Shealy, A. L.: Annual Report, Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta., 1931. Pages 6-9.

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

and then lie down to ruminate. Cattle penned at night lose weight
due to overcrowding, to increased annoyance by flies, to being
unable to graze when they desire. The animals waste energy
that would be used for gains.
Armsby(9) found that steers when standing required 41 per-
cent more nutrients for maintenance than when lying down. This
is partly due to the muscular activity of supporting the body in
an upright position. Cattle left on open range make better gains
than when penned at night. The purpose of penning cattle is to
fertilize special plots on which to grow sweet potatoes, cane and
gardens. The value of the fertilizer may not offset losses incurred
by the cattle when penned.
Salt was supplied to 15 percent of the range herds studied in
this survey. Cattle in several herds were seen eating sand, in-
dicating a need for salt or other mineral matter. Placing salt at
convenient locations may aid in controlling the distribution of
cattle on the range. Minerals needed can be placed in boxes
near the salt.
Cattle require a large supply of water. On flatwoods ranges
there is an ample supply of surface water during the greater por-
tion of the year. On high sandy blackjack ranges, the water
supply sometimes requires special attention. Occasionally lime
sinks or abandoned phosphate pits contain water during part of
the year. The main source of water on the blackjack ranges is
the scattered shallow sand ponds. In drought periods, cattle on
flatwoods and blackjack ranges are forced to go many miles for
water. The prairie and hammock ranges generally afford suffi-
cient water.

Information as to methods of marketing was secured mainly
from the cattlemen, but also from local butchers, market men,
slaughter records and from cattle buyers. These reports were
as complete as it was possible to obtain on the different types of
ranges. They have been tabulated, and average returns com-
puted for cattle of different ages, marketed on the hoof or slaugh-
tered out. An analysis of marketing data is presented in
Table IV.
9. Armsby, H. P.: Influence of the degree of fatness of cattle upon their
utilization of feed. Jour. Agr. Res. II: 451-472. 1917.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Number marketed at Average returns per head
different ages Shipped Butchered
Ranges calves 2-yr. over 2 2-yr. over 2 calves 2-yr. over 2
Flatwoods .. 71 518 $21.00 $23.00 .... $33.90 $26.51
Prairie .. 91 40 .... 30.00 .... 31.00 40.00
Hammock 25 257 40 27.00 32.50 $13.00 33.00 40.00
Blackjack 30 155 10 .... 25.00 11.00 23.50 25.00
Total 55 574 608 .. .
Average by ranges .......... 24.00 27.63 12.00 30.35 32.88
Average by animals........... 24.00 25.13 11.91 30.10 32.62

When cattle from the prairie and hammock areas were mar-
keted, they averaged greater returns per head than cattle from
the flatwoods and blackjack ranges. This can be attributed to
the better condition of the individual cattle, owing to more desir-
able feed of higher nutrient value. Prairie and hammock ranges
are free from the condition known as salt sick.
The dressing percentages of cattle from all four areas are some-
what low, since they are butchered as grass-fat. Steers dressed
out on the average 46 percent of the total live weight, and mixed
cattle 43 percent. When steers are run on the velvet bean fields
for 80 to 90 days, they find a ready market. The majority of cattle
sold on the hoof from this area are shipped to South Florida.
The practice of selling feeders from the ranges in this area is
not followed to any great extent. With the great decline in the
numbers of cattle, and the increase in population of Alachua
County, the local markets consume the majority of cattle raised
there. About 20 years ago 77,000 head of cattle ranged this area
where in 1930 there were only about 17,000 head. This is approx-
imately one animal to every two persons living in the county.
With this decline, the number of animals shipped from the area
is relatively small as compared with former years.
Cattle sold locally are passed upon by the local meat inspector
at a fee of $0.25 per head, in addition to the state fee of $0.25 for
identification of marks and brands. Veal found a ready market
locally, and brought from $10.00 to $12.00 per head at weaning
The number of cattle slaughtered for local markets in the
Gainesville area is shown in Table V. A decided decrease is noted
in the numbers of cattle slaughtered in 1931 as compared with
1928. Many cattlemen disposed of small herds in anticipation
of compulsory dipping. Since tick eradication was completed, the
breeding herds are being restocked.

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

Beef Veal
Year 1928 1929 1930 1931 1928 1929 1930 1931
January 282 265 273 199 64 67 51 35
February 275 259 226 177 74 41 47 38
March 313 253 191** 109 63 42 54** 24
April 282 271 197 101 66 66 42 32
May 287 308 155 106** 77 41 44 33**
June 262 221 149 124 87 37 67 30
July 257 226 154 170 67 54 62 55
August 270 185 140 130 79 70 68 37
September 287 206 186 130 78 105 79 37
October 416 260 211 155 90 105 70 77
November 258 198 164 229 62 73 55 60
December 233 184 161 173 48 38 52 48
Total 3,423 2,836 2,207 1,803 945 739 681 506
*From records of city meat inspector, Gainesville, Florida.
**Tick eradication campaign extended from March, 1930, to May, 1931,

Little seasonal trend is shown in the slaughter of cattle, as
inspected locally. An increased amount of beef and veal has been
shipped into the county during the past year, which shows that
home-grown cattle did not meet fully the demands of the local
market. The few shipments to South Florida markets are mainly
in the fall and spring months with movements of cattle off pas-
tures and from velvet bean fields. The decrease in cattle mar-
keted partly is due to the efforts of local cattlemen to increase the
size of their herds.


The early Spanish cattle were poorly adapted for beef produc-
tion. This is shown by the practice of early settlers, who tried
to keep their herds of Georgia cattle from becoming mixed with
them. The promiscuous introduction of various breeds, including
Jersey and Ayrshire, onto the open ranges was detrimental to beef
qualities. The recent eradication of the cattle fever tick made
possible the introduction of better beef breeds to improve the
quality demanded of good market cattle.
On the four types of ranges, the character of the vegetation
varies according to the nutrients contained in the soil. On the
more sandy soils, wiregrass and broomsedge prevail. A luxurious
growth of more nutritious grasses is found on the prairie and
hardwood hammock soils. The forage plants growing on the more
fertile soils contain more of the essential nutrients-mineral mat-
ter and protein-and permit the cattle to attain a greater size and
better condition at market age.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

The cattlemen believe that burning of prairie, hardwood ham-
mock and blackjack ranges is seldom good practice. Controlled
rotation burning (once in three years) sometimes appeared advis-
able on flatwoods ranges to keep the undergrowth and brush from
crowding out desirable grasses. Burning is detrimental to shal-
low rooted improved grasses, and to the forest.
The numbers of cattle have decreased greatly in Alachua County
over a period of years due to restriction of range lands, anticipa-
tion of tick eradication and changing economic conditions. Since
ticks have been eradicated, many cattle owners have increased
their herds. More range is being fenced. Introduction of the
improved beef bulls in greater numbers shows a strong tendency
toward improvement in the range cattle industry. Of 338 bulls
in service in these 45 range herds, 45.9 percent were of improved
beef breeds. A further increase of 11.2 percent has been noted
since tick eradication has been completed.
Range cattle in this area are marketed chiefly by being butch-
ered and sold for local consumption. The numbers of animals
shipped out are not equal to the quantity of fresh meat brought
into the county. A few animals have been shipped to other states
to be used as feeders.
A comparison of the returns from range cattle on the different
types of ranges is made in Table VI. The flatwoods and blackjack
ranges are largely on white and gray sandy soils, although the
"grassy" flatwoods soils may contain some clay (Bladen soil).
These sandy soils have a very low iron content, so that cattle graz-
ing on them suffer from salt sick to a greater or less extent. This

Average Calves Calves to Average returns per
Range calf crop died market value* breeding cow
percent percent percent
Flatwoods** 34.4 0.51 34.22 $30.20 $10.33
Blackjack 37.1 4.02 35.61 23.75 8.46
Prairie 54.1 0.56 53.80 35.50 19.10
Hammock 71.6 0 71.60 36.50 26.13
*Average value when butchered out at 21/ years old.
**Flatwoods included some healthy range on Bladen soil.

fact makes the differences between the ranges greater than just
the differences in the kinds and yields of forages growing on them.
Cooperative feeding trials in which iron and copper supplements
were used with salt sick cattle in 10 herds established the defi-
ciency of these mineral elements on certain of these ranges. The

Bulletin 248, A Study of Range Cattle Management

economic losses from salt sick include reduced calf crop, retarded
growth and lower average condition of cattle on the types of
ranges where this condition occurs. These differences in the
nutritive value of the forages on the different soils, as well as
differences in the length of the grazing season, are reasons for
the financial returns per breeding cow being approximately double
on "healthy" range.


The management of range cattle has been studied in all herds
of 50 head or more, on the four types of range in Alachua County.
The flatwoods, prairies, hammocks and blackjack ranges, as well
as the management of the cattle on them, are typical of central
Florida conditions.
Early Spanish settlers introduced the original cattle into this
area. The local native cattle still bear some resemblance to those
found in parts of Spain. Brahman, Devon, Jersey, Ayrshire,
Hereford, Shorthorn, Red Polled and Aberdeen Angus cattle have
been introduced from time to time. The earlier efforts toward
improvement of the native cattle were less successful because of
losses of the original animals from tick fever and lack of proper
From experience, the cattlemen of this section have estimated
that an acre of prairie range, four acres of hammock, 10 acres of
flatwoods, or 22 acres of blackjack range are required per range
Cattlemen believe generally that controlled rotation burning of
the flatwoods ranges is advisable under some conditions so as to
control undergrowth and allow the cattle to graze the early growth
of native grass. They did not approve burning prairie, hammock
or blackjack ranges, because of damage to the grasses, and of the
relative scarcity of underbrush. Fire damages the improved
shallow rooted grasses and the forest.
Because of changing economic conditions, only about one-fourth
as many cattle are on the ranges of Alachua County today as
grazed them 30 years ago. Since ticks have been eradicated, more
interest is being taken in improving the cattle, fencing the ranges
and improving the feed supply and pastures. Many range cattle
are now wintered on fields of velvet beans and corn, winter oats,
or rye. Cattle ranged on wiregrass pastures gain well during
spring and early summer but decline in condition during the rest
of the year, because of the low feed value of the mature grass.

28 Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Cattle can graze prairie range for nine months of the year, but
require highland range or supplementary feed during the winter
Direct losses of cattle by death have been reduced with eradi-
cation of the cattle fever ticks. Knowledge of the cause of salt
sick allows preventive measures to be used to eliminate this source
of loss. Differences in the condition of the cattle due to nutritive
value of the grasses and length of the grazing season on them, is
one cause of wide variation in the financial returns from breeding
herds on the different types of ranges. An important part of
these differences in nutritive value is lack of iron and copper in
the forage plants grown on the white and gray sandy soils, and
the low protein content of the mature wiregrass. Changing cattle
from sandy to clay ranges has been practiced in the past by local
cattlemen to correct and prevent salt sick.
The cattlemen were found to be adopting improved methods to
meet present market conditions.

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