Group Title: Bulletin - University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station ; no. 281
Title: Beef cattle improvement in Florida
Full Citation
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 Material Information
Title: Beef cattle improvement in Florida
Series Title: Bulletin University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station
Physical Description: 22 p. : ill. ; 23 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Knapp, Bradford, 1905-
Shealy, A. L
Publisher: University of Florida Agricultural Experiment Station
Place of Publication: Gainesville Fla
Publication Date: 1935
Subject: Beef cattle -- Breeding -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Beef cattle -- Grading -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Genre: government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: Bradford Knapp, Jr. and A.L. Shealy.
General Note: Cover title.
General Note: "In cooperation with Bureau of Animal Industry, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture."
Funding: Bulletin (University of Florida. Agricultural Experiment Station)
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00026767
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000924355
oclc - 18213062
notis - AEN4973

Full Text


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 281



I.-Improvement of Beef Herds Through Breeding
II.-A Method of Grading Range Breeding Cows

Assistant Animal Husbandman, U. S. Bureau of Animal Industry
Head, Animal Husbandry Department, Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

Fig. 1.-Native cows on carpet grass pasture. This type of cow will
figure prominently in the foundation of the future beef cattle industry of
Florida. (USDA)

Bulletins will be sent free to Florida residents upon application to

June, 1935


John J. Tigert, M.A., LL.D., President of the
Wilmon Newell, D.Sc., Director
H. Harold Hume, M.S., Asst. Dir., Research
Harold Mowry, M.S.A., Asst. Dir., Adm.
J. Francis Cooper, M.S.A., Editor
Clyde Beale, A.B.J., Assistant Editor
Jefferson Thomas, Assistant E litor
Ida Keeling Cresap, Librarian
Ruby Newhall, Administrative Manager
K. H. Graham, Business Manager
Rachel McQuarrie, Accountant


W. E. Stokes, M.S., Agronomist**
W. A. Leukel, Ph.D., Agronomist
G. E. Ritchey, M.S.A., Associate*
Fred H. Hull, Ph.D., Associate
W. A. Carver, Ph.D., Associate
John P. Camp, M.S., Assistant
A. L. Shealy, D.V.M., Animal Husbandman**
R. B. Becker, Ph.D., Dairy Husbandman
W. M. Neal, Ph.D., Associate in Animal
D. A. Sanders, D.V.M., Veterinarian
M. W. Emmel, D.V.M., Asst. Veterinarian
W. W. Henley, B.S.A., Assistant Animal
P. T. Dix Arnold, B.S.A., Assistant Dairy
R. W. Ruprecht, Ph.D., Chemist**
R. M. Barnette, Ph.D., Chemist
C. E. Bell, Ph.D., Associate
R. B. French, Ph.D., Associate
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
Zach Savage, M.S.A., Associate
A. H. Spurlock, M.S.A., Assistant
Ouida Davis Abbott, Ph.D., Specialist**
L. W. Gaddum, Ph.D., Biochemist
C. F. Ahmann, Ph.D., Physiologist
J. T. Hall, Jr., B.S.Ch.E., Asst. Physiologist
J. R. Watson, A.M., Entomologist**
A. N. Tissot, Ph.D., Associate
H. E. Bratley, M.S.A., Assistant
J. W. Kea, B.S.A., Assistant
A. F. Camp, Ph.D., Horticulturist*
G. H. Blackmon, M.S.A. Horticulturist
A. L. Stahl, Ph.D., Associate
F. S. Jamison, Ph.D., Truck Horticulturist
R. J. Wilmot, M.S.A., Specialist, Fumigation
R. D. Dickey, B.S.A., Assistant Horticulturist
W. B. Tisdale, Ph.D.. Plant Pathologist**
George F. Weber, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
R. K. Voorhees, M.S., Assistant
Erdman West, M.S., Mycologist
Lillian E. Arnold, M.S., Assistant Botanist
*In cooperation with U.S.D.A.
** Head of Department.


Geo. H. Baldwin, Chairman, Jacksonville
A. H. Blanding, Bartow
A. H. Wagg, West Palm Beach
Oliver J. Semmes, Pensacola
Harry C. Duncan, Tavares
J. T. Diamond, Secretary, Tallahassee


L. O. Gratz, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist in
R. R. Kincaid, Ph.D., Asso. Plant Pathologist
J. D. Warner, M.S., Agronomist
R. M. Crown, B.S.A., Asst. Agronomist
Jesse Reeves, Farm Superintendent

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

A. Daane, Ph.D., Agronomist in Charge
R. N. Lobdell, M.S., Entomologist
F. D. Stevens, B.S., Sugarcane Agronomist
G. R. Townsend, Ph.D., Assistant Plant
J. R. Neller, Ph.D., Biochemist
R. W. Kidder, B.S., Assistant Animal
Ross E. Robertson, B.S., Assistant Chemist

H. S. Wolfe, Ph.D., Horticulturist in Charge
W. M. Fifield. M.S., Asst. Horticulturist
Stacy O. Hawkins, M.A., Assistant Plant

E. W. Sheets, D.Agri., Animal Husbandman
in Charge*
W. F. Ward, M.S.A., Asst. An. Husbandman*


M. N. Walker, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist in
W. B. Shippy, Ph.D,. Asso. Plant Pathologist
K. W. Loucks, M.S., Asst. Plant Pathologist
J. W. Wilson, Ph.D., Associate Entomologist
C. C. Goff, M.S., Assistant Entomologist
Plant City
A. N. Brooks, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
R. E. Nolen, M.S.A., Asst. Plant Pathologist
A. S. Rhoads, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
A. H. Eddins, Ph.D., Plant Pathologist
G. B. Fairchild, M.S., Assistant Entomologist
David G. Kelbert, Asst. Plant Pathologist
E. R. Purvis. Ph.D., Assistant Chemist,
Celery Investigations

Page Page
I.-Improvement of Beef Herds Through II.-A Method of Grading Range Breeding
Breeding ... .... ............. Cows ................................ ...... ........... ..... 12
Introduction ........................................ 3 Introduction ............................ ..... ..... 12
Breeding for Herd Improvement........ 4 Grading Breeding Cattle....................... 12
Selection of Foundation Breeding Cows 7 The Score Card and Its Use................. 18
Selection of Purebred Bulls................. 8 Summary.. .. ................... ........ 21
Score Card for Beef Cattle...................... 10

Cattle have been raised in Florida with but little interruption
since the Spanish explorers made the first importation into St.
Augustine in 1565. These earlier cattle were of Spanish breeds.
No extensive cattle raising was done, however, until after Florida
was purchased by the United States in 1819. Cattle, mainly
of British origin, were brought into Florida by the thousands
by the early American colonists who migrated from Georgia,
Alabama, and the Carolinas. Little or no selection or improved
breeding was attempted until the latter part of the 19th century.
From 1870 to 1900 many purebred beef bulls were brought into
the state. Due to such adverse conditions as salt sick and tick
fever only a small number of bulls survived and the native stock
now shows only a trace of improved breeding.
At the present time, Florida produces only 25 percent of the
beef consumed within the state. Much of the native beef pro-
duced is low in quality. Furthermore, the demand for beef of
higher grade is increasing steadily. An opportunity is afforded
cattlemen to produce more beef to meet this deficit in produc-
tion. Beef of higher quality can be produced by introducing
animals of improved breeding into the herds of native cattle.
Moreover, the native cattle lack much in uniformity, which is
important in marketing cattle. One of the principal problems
confronting cattlemen in the state today is that of producing
a uniform supply of beef that will meet the market demands.
To do this, improvements in grade and quality of Florida
cattle are necessary. These improvements can be made by giv-
ing attention to three factors: (1) better breeding; (2) better
feeding; and (3) better herd management. A combination of
these three factors will result in a considerably higher grade

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

of native beef for the market. This bulletin deals with the first
of these factors and the methods whereby higher grade cattle
may be raised by the use of improved blood within the herds.
No matter how much feed may be available for the cattle, if
the inherited factors for thick fleshing, easy fattening and the

Fig. 2.-A purebred Hereford bull of desirable type for use with native

Fig. 3.-A purebred Angus bull of desirable type for use with native cattle.


Beef Cattle Improvement in Florida

Fig. 4.-A purebred Shorthorn bull of desirable type for use with native
cattle. (USDA.)

production of beef of high quality are absent in the animals
composing the herd, the feed will be largely wasted so far as
producing beef of choice quality is concerned. There are two
general methods of livestock improvement whereby cattlemen
may improve their herds through breeding: (1) by "grading
up" from native stock and (2) by purebreeding.

Fig. 5.-A purebred Devon bull of good type for use with native cattle.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

"Grading Up" from Native Stock:-An economical program
for the improvement of beef cattle in Florida begins with the
native cows already established on the ranges. These cows,
though poor in beef qualities and lacking in uniformity, are
adapted to climatic conditions and to the ranges upon which
they graze. By breeding these native cows to good beef bulls,
such as those shown in Figures 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6, a marked im-
provement results in the offspring. The first-cross calves show
decided improvement (Fig. 7). More rapid progress can be made
by selecting cows that possess beefiness and other desirable
qualities, and by breeding such cows to good purebred beef bulls.
4L-"% VEI P "' LV

Fig. 6.-A Brahman bull showing type desirable for use with native cattle.
Selecting for foundation cows only those animals possessing
good beef conformation is a very important practice in herd
improvement work. If purebred bulls are mated to native cows
without attention to the selection of individuals, many cows
will be bred that should have been culled from the herd. Such
breeding practices result in calves of a lower grade than when
rigid selection is made within the cow herd. While first-genera-
tion grade calves, sired by purebred beef bulls, usually show

Beef Cattle Improvement in Florida

a very decided improvement over the natives, the improvement
continues at a slower rate in subsequent generations of top-
crossing with purebred bulls. Greater uniformity of type occurs
as the number of good purebred bulls in the pedigree continues
to increase. The continued use of purebred sires with well
selected cows may result in animals nearly the equal of pure-
breds in all practical respects. Such cattle are not eligible for
registry, however.
Purebreeding:-Successful production of purebred cattle is a
specialized art which requires close attention and a thorough
knowledge of the
ancestry and in-
dividual perform- ---- -
ance of each
animal within the
herd. Strict selec-
tion is essential,
since the breeder
of this class of
cattle must keep
as a foundation
herd only animals
that are high in
quality and have
good conforma-
tion, and transmit
these desirable Fig. 7.-The calf sired by a purebred Hereford
characteristics to bull and out of this native cow shows considerable
improvement in the first generation.
their offspring.
Florida produces cattle mainly for slaughter purposes rather
than animals that will be sold for breeding purposes, and for
that reason relatively few purebred cattle are raised in the state.
There is a place, however, for breeders of purebred cattle within
this state, but this type of cattle production should be under-
taken only by persons experienced in the selection, feeding, and
management of high-grade livestock, and willing to devote much
time and attention to it.
Selection in the cow herd is just as important as the selection
of good beef bulls. Well-fleshed cows produce higher grade
calves than do rangy, slab-sided, thin-fleshed cows. Breeding
cows should have good size and quality. They should be well

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

muscled and show decided beef tendencies. These desirable
characteristics are transmitted by parents to progeny. In years
past, many heifers of desirable beef type were sold since a good
price was received for them. Heifers of this class are the most
desirable to retain as breeding animals for the purpose of im-
proving the quality of the herd.
The value of selection in the cow herd has been recognized
by breeders of purebred cattle for many years. For example,
the breeders of purebred Shorthorn and Aberdeen-Angus cattle
have emphasized the female side of the pedigree. Many families
within these breeds trace through the female side to outstanding
foundation cows. The conformation, size and other important
characteristics which foundation cows should possess, are de-
scribed in detail in Section II of this bulletin.
In selecting purebred bulls to head the herd, it is important
to obtain individuals that closely conform to the standard of
excellence for that particular breed. The cattleman must be
able to recognize the weak points of bulls and to make sure that
the good points of those selected far outweigh their faults. The
points that make an animal worth more to the butcher include
thick-fleshing, fullness of twist, short legs, straight lines, heavy
hindquarters and a covering of fat that is distributed evenly
over the body. The bull not only must have these qualities but
also must be able to transmit them to his calves. It is import-
ant, therefore, that the bulls be selected with considerable care.
Good Conformation Desired in Beef Bulls:-By conformation
is meant the build, shape or outline of the animal. The con-
formation of an animal depends upon the size and shape of the
bones and the thickness and distribution of the muscles and fat
that cover them. While factors affecting conformation are
transmitted from one generation to another, environmental
factors such as feed and management may modify conformation.
Nutritional deficiencies and severe infestations of parasites are
responsible for the mal-development of many cattle within this
It is important to know by name the exterior parts of a beef
bull. The names and location of these parts are shown in Figure 8.
The most important parts to be considered in the conformation
of a beef animal are those that favor high dressing percentage,
and a high proportion of the more desirable cuts of meat, such
as the loin, round and ribs in the dressed carcass. The head

Beef Cattle Improvement in Florida

should be short and broad and the muzzle large, the neck short
and blending smoothly with the shoulders. The legs should be
short, straight and set well apart both in front and behind. The
shoulders should be smooth, well covered with flesh, and well
proportioned to the rest of the body. The chest should be deep
and broad. The crops should be full with thick flesh and the
ribs should be well-sprung. The back must be strong, straight,'
and thickly and evenly fleshed. The body should be wide and
deep in proportion to its length. The flanks should be low and
full. The hindquarters should be smooth, thickly fleshed, deep
and full in the twist. Short coupling, compactness, thick flesh-
ing and smoothness are characteristic of the beef type demanded
by the market.

14 13


10 2

Fig. 8.-Location and names of the exterior parts of a beef bull.
1. Dewlap 8. Shoulders 15. Thighs
2. Brisket 9. Fore flank 16. Rump
3. Neck 10. Scrotum or cod 17. Tailhead
4. Crest 11. Hind flanks 18. Twist
5. Shoulder junction 12. Sides or ribs 19. Hocks
6. Crops 13. Back
7. Heart girth 14. Loin
Quality:-Quality is indicated by fineness of bone, pliable hide,
trimness of head, and general appearance of the animal. While
both consumer and butcher are looking for the smallest possible
proportion of bone, there must be sufficient bone with ample
strength to support the live animal adequately at the maximum
weight which it may attain. Too much refinement particularly

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

In 1932 the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station and the
Bureau of Animal Industry, United States Department of Agri-
culture, began a series of herd improvement experiments under
actual range conditions. To accomplish practical results, pure-
bred bulls were lent to cattle owners in different parts of the
state. These bulls were put in herds on many different types
of ranges and with different grades of range cows. The cows
in the herds varied in weight from less than 450 pounds to more
than 750 pounds. Obviously 450-pound cows are too small to
produce big, thick-fleshed calves even when bred to a good beef
bull. These small cows are the result of inferior breeding com-
bined with improper feeding and management. They are of
such type that they fail to fatten satisfactorily or to supply
carcasses of good quality, even when well fed. Becker and
associates* have shown that cattle affected with mineral defi-
ciencies such as (1) salt sick, caused by a lack of iron and copper
in forages, (2) calcium deficiency, and (3) phosphorus deficiency,
are stunted in growth. Salt sick cattle particularly are decidedly
thin and unthrifty, and never attain the size they would have
reached had the deficiency not occurred. These deficiencies can
be corrected in a large measure by feeding proper mineral sup-
plements in boxes on the range.
Under range conditions, heifers may be bred too young, which
results in stunting the growth of these animals. The practice
of permitting the bulls to run on the range with the cows at all
times results in some calves being dropped at seasons when grass
is scarce, which makes it impossible for the cows to raise good,
strong calves. Such conditions can be corrected by proper range
In selecting or grading breeding cows certain points deserve
more emphasis than do others. Size and ruggedness are of pri-
mary importance. The maximum size that an animal may attain
is restricted by the inherited limit of skeletal development with-
in that animal. In other words, the size of the animal is limited
*Becker, Neal and Shealy. Florida Experiment Station Bulletins 231,
262 and 264.

Beef Cattle Improvement in Florida

by its framework or skeleton. Under range conditions and prac-
tices generally prevalent throughout the South, maximum size
is seldom reached in cattle. It is important to place much em-
phasis on size and weight for age.
Five grades of breeding cows have been set up by the Florida
Agricultural Experiment Station. These grades should be of
considerable value to agricultural workers in scoring experi-
mental animals and may be used by farmers and cattlemen as
a basis for selecting cows for their breeding herds. They have
proved to be quite satisfactory in measuring the improvement
in range cattle.

Fig. 9.-A Grade 1 breeding cow showing the scale, quality and fleshing
expected in good beef cows.
GRADE 1 BREEDING COWS. Grade 1 breeding cows are
superior in size, conformation, finish and quality. They are
large-framed cows showing plenty of scale and capacity. The
head is rather short and wide and shows refinement. The neck
is moderately short, thick and blends well with the shoulders.
The body is rectangular in shape, broad and deep in proportion
to its length. The legs are short, straight and set wide apart.
The shoulders are smooth and blend well with the neck and
body. The crops are well covered with flesh. They have good,
strong, straight backs. The top and bottom lines are straight,
level, and nearly parallel. The chest is deep and wide with an

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

excellent spring of ribs, indicating a rugged constitution. The
body is large with much width and depth. The udder has suffi-
cient size to produce plenty of milk to support a calf.
Cows of this grade carry a considerable amount of natural
fleshing. They are well muscled over the crops, loins, and
quarters, the fleshing carrying down into the region of the
thighs and twist. The fat is distributed smoothly, there being
no evidence of patchiness. The bones are moderately large. The
hide is loose and pliable. The animals have plenty of quality
and refinement, are thrifty in appearance, and show that they are
capable of supporting themselves and their calves on the range.
This grade of cows includes mostly high grade or purebred
cows of beef breeding. Mature cows of this grade should weigh
over 1,000 pounds.

Fig. 10.-A Grade 2 breeding cow that lacks a little in scale, quality and
fleshing shown in a Grade 1 cow.

GRADE 2 BREEDING COWS. Grade 2 breeding cows are
moderately large of frame and fairly heavy, but lack the size
and scale shown in the Grade 1 cows. The head is rather short
and wide, but shows refinement. The neck is moderately short
and thick, and blends well with the shoulders. The body tends
to be rectangular and moderately broad and deep in proportion
to its length. The cows are moderately broad and deep of chest
and show fairly rugged constitutions. The legs tend to be short
and straight, and are set fairly wide apart. The shoulders are
medium smooth and blend well with the neck and body.

Beef Cattle Improvement in Florida 15

Grade 2 cows are fairly well muscled over the crops, loins and
quarters but lack the thick fleshing of the Grade 1 cows. They
have fairly strong, straight backs with the top and under lines
relatively straight and parallel. The chest is deep and moder-
ately wide, with a good spring of rib, and a good constitution. The
body is medium large but lacks the depth and width of the
Grade 1 cows. The hide is loose and pliable. The flesh is smooth,
but lacks the thickness over the ribs, loin and quarters of the
upper grade. The bones are of good size. The udder is moder-
ately large, and shows the capacity to produce enough milk for
a calf.
This grade is composed of grade beef-bred cows that show a
predominance of beef blood. The mature cows of this grade
should weigh over 800 pounds.

Fig. 11-A Grade 3 breeding cow that lacks the scale, straightness of
line, quality and fleshing of the upper grades.

GRADE 3 BREEDING COWS. Grade 3 breeding cows tend
to be small of frame and light in weight. They lack the scale,
capacity and constitution shown in the higher grades. They
are rangy in appearance, more angular and slightly shallow and
narrow in proportion to their length. The head tends to be
narrow and long and lacks refinement. The neck is long, lacks
thickness, and does not blend very smoothly with the shoulders.
These cows show a tendency to be narrow and shallow of
body. The legs tend to be long, are moderately straight and
placed too closely together. The crops tend to be sharp, the

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

loins and quarters do not carry the muscling of the other grades.
The animal is slightly rough over the shoulders, crops, ribs, loin,
hips, and rump, and the bones in these parts tend to be prominent.
The thighs are thin and the flanks high. The topline is slightly
irregular and the lines tend to angularity. There is a general
lack of thriftiness in appearance as compared with the two upper
grades. The hide tends to lack in pliability and the bones to be
small and lack the quality of the upper two grades.
The cows of this grade are primarily of low grade beef breed-
ing, dairy breeding, or good native stock. Cows of this grade
weigh over 650 pounds as mature animals.
GRADE 4 BREEDING COWS. Grade 4 breeding cows are
small of frame and light of weight. They are deficient in confor-
mation, quality
and finish. The
head is long and
narrow, and the
neck long and
thin. They are
rangy and angu-
lar in appearance.
The topline may
be swayed or ir-
regular, with the
bottom line ir-
regular and cut
high in the
Fig. 12.-A Grade 4 breeding cow that lacks the
many good qualities expected in beef cattle. flanks. The chest
is shallow and
narrow, showing a lack of ruggedness. The crops are very
sharp, loins thin, and the quarters decidedly lacking in flesh.
The legs are long in proportion to the depth of body and are
placed closely together. The bones are lacking in size and
quality. The hair is dull and the hide lacks in pliability. There
is a noticeable lack of thriftiness.
In general, Grade 4 cows are small framed, thin, rangy, leggy
cows showing very little natural fleshing, or quality. This grade
is composed generally of native cows and grade dairy stock.
Mature Grade 4 cows weigh more than 550 pounds.
GRADE 5 BREEDING COWS. Grade 5 breeding cows are
very small, stunted, "slab-sided" cows of inferior quality. These
cows lack decidedly the scale, vigor, and quality to produce good

Beef Cattle Improvement in Florida

beef calves. The head is small, narrow and lacks refinement,
and the neck is long and thin. The topline is swayed or irregular.
These cows are very thin and extremely angular in appearance.
The shoulders
are prominent.
Practically the
entire bony
framework of
the animal is
visible, and the
bones of the
shoulders, hips,
and ribs are ex-
tremely promin-
ent. The animals
lack decidedly in
ruggedness. They
are extremely Fig. 13.-A Grade 5 breeding cow-this type
sharp over the should be culled from the herd.
crops, thin loined,
and extremely thin in the quarters, or "cat-hammed". The
coat lacks lustre, and the hide shows very little pliability. The
bones are small and of very poor quality. The cows are very
unthrifty in appearance.

Fig. 14.-With good bulls like this heading the herd, good grade range
cows drop nice calves. This bull sired the calves shown in Figs. 15 and 16.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station

In general, Grade 5 cows are extremely small, and possess very
poor quality. This grade is usually composed of inferior animals
of native stock.
Grade 5 cows weigh
less than 550 pounds
when mature. This
grade of cows should
be culled from the
With the descrip-
tions just given in
r mind, a score card
was devised by the
Florida Agricultural
Fig. 15.-Calf from a Grade 3 cow and pure-
bred bull. Weight 230 pounds at four months Experiment Station
of age. Dropped same day as calf in Fig. 16. for use in field stud-
ies. The sheet is
patterned after the
standard score sheet
commonly used for
scoring animals for
slaughter purposes.
However, the writers
have chosen certain
practical points that
seem to be more im-
portant for consid-
eration, and have
placed a higher valu-
ation on these points
Fig. 16.-Calf from a Grade 5 cow and pure- than is generally al-
bred bull. Weight 170 pounds at four months lowed on standard
of age. Dropped same day as calf shown in
Fig. 15. score cards. These
points are skeleton
size, weight for age, topline, underline, depth of body, width of
body, constitution, quality, and condition or natural fleshing.
According to the score card, perfection in beef-cattle type
has a score of 100 percent. The cow at the other extreme, lack-
ing all the desirable qualities wanted in beef or range cows,
would score only 50 percent. This range of 50 percent is divided

Initials of grader:.........................
N o............................. H erd ow ner:...................... ..................... Date:... ............. .......... Location.............................. ................
I S tan i |
SCALE OF POINTS dard 1 2 3 4 5
I Moderately Tending to be
SKELETON SIZE Large large small Small Very small
FOR AGE 15 14.75 14.25 13.75 13.25 12.75 12.25 11.75 11.25 10.75 10.25 9.75 9.25 8.75 8.25 7.75
S Moderately Tending to be
Heavy heavy light Light Very light
WEIGHT FOR AGE 15 1 14.75 14.25 13.75 13.25 12.75 12.25 11.75 11.25 10.75 10.25 9.75 9.25 1 8.75 8.25 7.75
SStraight and Moderately Slightly Swayed or Very swayed or
BODY FORM level I straight & level irregular irregular very irregular
Topline 5 4.92 4.75 4.58 4.42 4.25 4.08 3.92 3.75 3.58 3.42 3.25 3.08 2.92 2.75 2.58
Straight, Straight, flanks Slightly high High in Very high in
flanks deep moderately deep in flanks flanks flanks
Bottomline 5 4.92 4.75 4.58 4.42 4.25 4.08 3.92 3.75 3.58 3.42 3.25 3.08 2.92 2.75 2.58

S Very deep I Moderately deep Slightly shallow Shallow Very shallow
Depth of Body 7 6.88 6.65 6.42 6.18 5.95 5.72 5.48 5.25 5.02 4.78 4.55 4.32 4.08 3.85 3.62
Moderately Tending to be Very narrow
Broad broad narrow Narrow "slab-sided"
Width of Body 8 7.87 7.60 7.33 7.06 6.80 6.53 6.26 6.00 5.73 5.46 5.20 4.93 4.66 4.40 4.13
uONSTITUTION Very deep Moderately deep I Slightly shallow Shallow and Very shallow
Depth & width of 15 and wide and wide I and narrow narrow and narrow
chest 14.75 14.25 13.75 13.25 12.75 12.25 11.75 11.25 10.75 10.25 9.75 9.25 8.75 8.25 7.75
As shown by coat 15 I Excellent Good Medium Fair Poor
and smoothness I 14.75 14.25 13.75 13.25 12.75 12.25 11.75 11.25 10.75 10.25 9.75 9.25 8.75 8.25 7.75
1 Excellent Good natural Tending to be
CONDITION I natural fleshing fleshing | thin Thin Very thin
Natural fleshing 15 14.75 14.25 13.75 13.25 12.75 12.25 11.75 11.25 10.75 1.25 9.75 9.25 8.75 8.25 7.75
COMPOSITE 1 1 2 3 4 5
GRADE 100 98.33 95.00 91.67 88.33 85.00 81.67 78.33 75.00 71.67 68.33 65.00 61.67 58.33 55.00 51.67

Predominant breeding:

Angus Brahman Hereford Jersey
Ayrshire Devon Holstein Native

Red Polled Other breeds:





Florida Agricultxral Experiment Station

into five grades, Grade 1 cows score between 90 and 100 percent;
Grade 2 cows between 80 and 90; Grade 3 cows between 70 and
80; Grade 4 cows between 60 and 70; and Grade 5 cows between
50 and 60. Furthermore, each grade is divided into three equal
parts, commonly referred to as "top", "middle", or "low", so that
the grader haA a range within each grade within which to place
the animal. These subdivisions are 3.33 percent apart.
At the bottom of the sheet a space is left in which the scorer
may summarize the points of the animals into a total score,
taking into consideration all of the points mentioned on the score
card. There is also space at the bottom of the score card to
check the predominant breeding in the cows graded. For later
reference, it will be of use to observe the improvement made
by each breed.
When scoring breeding cows used in the cooperative breeding
studies, the grading committee has consisted of three men who
worked independently.
To illustrate how the scores are totaled for each grader, the
following example is used:

Points Scored Grader 1 Grader 2

Skeleton size for age ....... .............. 7.75 7.75
Weight for age .................................. 7.75 7.75
Topline ...........--- ............. ........... 3.92 3.92
Bottomline ........................................ 3.25 3.42
Depth of body ............................ 3.85 4.08
Width of body ............................ 4.40 4.40
Constitution ....... .................. ............ .. 8.25 8.25
Quality ..... ..................... .......... 9.25 9.25
Condition ......................................... ..... 8.75 8.75

Composite grade ........-.. :.............. Top 5 Top 5

Predominant breeding ..................... Native Native

Total score from the above points 57.17 57.57

Grader 3


Top 5






It may be seen from the above that the three men scoring this
animal were in reasonably close agreement. The three graders
who examined the above cow at the North Florida Experiment
Station, Quincy, Florida have graded over 500 cows by this
method during 1934.
The speed of grading depends upon the rapidity with which
the committee can get the cows before them for grading and
the speed with which they can score the animal. After some

Beef Cattle Improvement in Florida

practice the Florida committee has graded as high as 30 cows
an hour with satisfactory thoroughness.
The plan of the herd improvement work is to grade the breed-
ing herds at least twice, attempting to grade the cows at the
peak of range condition and again at a season when they are
thin. The heifer calves in the herds from the purebred bulls
will be graded on the same basis when they are about two years
of age. This should give an indication of the improvement made
by the purebred bulls.
From the practical cattleman's standpoint, the actual use of a
score card is not necessary. However, the application of the
principles shown in this grading system in the selection of breed-
ing cows is of great practical value. It must not be forgotten
that "like begets like". By keeping the best in the breeding
herds, and selling those that do not come up to the standards
for good beef cattle, a marked improvement can be made in most
herds in a few years.
Careful selection of the cow herd, as well as using good pure-
bred beef bulls, is important for the production of high-quality
beef cattle. The range breeding herds need considerable culling.
While good feeding and management are important, it is poor
economy to feed animals that have little natural flesh and that
do not fatten easily.
A system of grading breeding cows for herd improvement
work is offered as a means of measuring: (1) The native cows
making up the foundation herd; (2) the improvement of the
grade offspring over the foundation cows; (3) the continued
improvement through succeeding generations of topcrossing
with good purebred beef bulls.

Florida Agricultural Experiment Station


1. Select and raise the best breed suited to the conditions of
your farm or range. Encourage your neighbors to do likewise,
for community breeding has many advantages.
2. Use only purebred sires of good type and from good stock.
3. Sell or slaughter all scrub, grade, and inferior purebred
bulls. An inferior animal can undo many years of rigid selection
and breeding.
4. All types of cattle are more profitable when they are well
fed and cared for. Good feeding will give good breeding a chance
to express itself.
5. Growing animals make the best use of feeds. Future
breeding animals should have an opportunity to attain their
greatest possible growth. Florida cattlemen are beginning to
appreciate the importance of "crossing cattle with feed".
6. Water, salt and mineral supplement (iron, copper, phos-
phorus, and calcium) should always be accessible to animals.
7. Breeding animals should be kept thrifty, neither too thin
nor too fat.
8. Winter feeding of animals on the open range can be done
at a very small cost. Winter feeding means less mortality, more
calves, and healthier stock through the entire year.
9. Limit the breeding period to the spring months so that
all calves will come about the same time when grass is at its best.
10. Keep breeding stock free from disease and parasites by
close attention to sanitation and treatment when necessary.


Cattle have been important in Florida's agriculture ever
since they were first brought to this State by the Spaniards
in 1565. Noteworthy progress has been made by the State's
cattle industry in the last few years. The cattle fever tick
has been eradicated from most of the State's area. Im-
proved blood has been introduced. Feeding deficiencies have
been overcome. The screw worm fly has been met and is
being conquered.
Florida's cattle industry is on the threshold of still
greater advancement. With improvement in breed-
ing, feeding and management will come better quality
beef which will bring higher returns and greater
Research by workers at the State Agricultural Experi-
ment Station is pointing the way. Cattlemen will find the
following additional bulletins of interest and value to them
in their operations. Free copies may be obtained by ad-
dressing the Agricultural Experiment Station, Gainesville,
Bul. 231-Salt Sick, Its Cause and Prevention; Mineral Supplements
for Cattle.
Bul. 248-A Study of Range Cattle Management in Alachua County,
Bul. 260-Beef Production in Florida.
Bul. 264-Stiffs or Sweeny (Phosphorus Deficiency) in Cattle.
Bul. 275-The Feeding Value and Nutritive Properties of Citrus


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