LLETIN 662 / 3 NOVEMBER 1963
eef Cattle Production
on Organic Soils
of South Florida
L. Chapman, Jr.
I. Allen, Jr.
E. Green, Jr.
T. Forsee, Jr.
Agricultural Experiment Stations
University of Florida, Gainesville
J. R. Beckenbach, Director
INTRODUCTION ..... .................... .......... ............................... ..... 3
SELECTION OF BEEF CATTLE ...--........ .... .. .......--...-............ 4
Breeds of Beef Cattle to Use .-...--............ ......----......- --.... 4
Cow-and-Calf Program ...-..-...-... ...... ...- ...-...---- ----............... 11
Stocker and Feedlot Programs .....-- .......-- ............-.. ....... ....... 12
GENERAL CATTLE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES ..-....-----...--...-...-- ...--...----- .... 12
Livestock Management ..-..........---.... ------...-- -------...-.....--..... 12
Major Disease Problems ..-.......-..-...--------- -..--... --..--........-..... .. 16
Internal and External Parasites ...----........----.. -----.....-..........-- 16
PASTURE AND PASTURE MANAGEMENT .........-.... ... ....-....-- ...--..-..-... 17
Soil Types .....--- ...----....- ..----... -........-- ..- .......-..-.... 17
Pasture Development ..................--- ..-- ....... ..-....--...... 17
Permanent Pasture Grasses ......--......----- ......---..--........-- .. 19
Poisonous W eeds ....... ............-............- ..... - .... ..............-- -- 23
Pasture Management and Supplementation ..--............-...-....-..........-..--23
EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES ..........---------------- ......--- ...... 25
Fencing ...... ----..........-...- ... ....-....-..-.... .. .. ..... ......... .. 25
Water Supply .....----.............-------------...............-------.. 29
Mineral Boxes ....-- .....-----------......... .... ..... --...-.....-- 31
Back Scratchers --.....-...-.... ..-.. .....--- ... -----..-----...........-.. --.. 31
Spray and Fogging Equipment .....-...-.........-- ........-......-....--... 31
Scales ....-..-- ...-- ....- --... -------..-.--... -... -- ------......... ..- 34
Corrals .--....-... --....---------....------------ ------ ...- ...- ..--..-- ..-- .. 34
Cattle Squeeze Chutes ..-.. ........ .... .....-..--- ...----- ..--- ---..---. 35
Silos ..........-.. -....-....-----------------.. 36
Shade ...:............- ..-..... ....- .........- ...-..... ........ 37
GENERAL NUTRITION .-...-.........---............ .......--....-- -..--.. 40
Supplemental Feeding Programs --........--.-- ..-..-..----- .....---... 40
Locally Produced Supplemental Feeds ...........--.............--.........---..42
Steer Feeding ..--.. ...-.......-...--..--- ....--.. ----..............-..--.--.... 46
Summary of Recommended Feeding Practices .....-....-.-......--- ...-..- ..- 48
LITERATURE CITED ......-.......-- .........--...--------- ------.- 50
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .......-..........-------- --.....-..-..-..------ -----......--.. 53
BEEF CATTLE PRODUCTION ON
ORGANIC SOILS OF
H. L. CHAPMAN, JR., R. W. KIDDER, C. E. HAINES,
R. J. ALLEN, JR., V. E. GREEN, JR., AND W. T. FORSEE, JR.1
The Everglades area, which includes most of the state of
Florida south of Lake Okeechobee, contains approximately three-
fourths of the organic soils in the state. This area of organic
soils, approximately 40 miles wide and 100 miles long, is one of
the largest continuous areas in the world of this type soil. The
soil depth ranges from 5 to 8 feet near Lake Okeechobee to a
foot, or less, near the perimeter of the area.
Native vegetation consisted primarily of sawgrass sedge,
willow, elder, and custard apple, none of which are compatible
with livestock production. During the 1920's, attempts to es-
tablish improved pastures were discouraging, primarily due to
soil fertility problems and lack of adequate water control. These
problems were overcome during the early 1930's and permanent
and improved pastures were developed. However, attempts at
beef cattle production during the 1930's were unsuccessful, pri-
marily because of cattle nutrition difficulties. The cattle in-
dustry as it is known today has developed since the early 1940's,
when methods for correcting certain mineral imbalances for beef
cattle were discovered. The development of the cattle industry
was further stimulated by more adequate water control. The
current cattle population of south Florida is approximately
300,000 head, with a large portion found on these peat soils.
Much of the virgin soil constantly becoming available for
agricultural purposes is suitable for pastures. Peat and muck
soils have an excellent potential for forage and livestock pro-
duction, but there are problems characteristic to the establish-
ment and management of beef cattle operations on these soils.
1Chapman, Animal Nutritionist.
Kidder, Animal Husbandman.
Haines, Assistant Animal Husbandman.
Allen, Assistant Agronomist.
Green, Associate Agronomist.
Forsee, Chemist in Charge, Everglades Experiment Station.
4 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
These include water control, soil preparation, pasture fertiliza-
tion, livestock management, and equipment. The purpose of
this bulletin is to present a summary of available information
that will be of value to the beef cattleman, both newcomer and
established. Emphasis is placed on commercial, rather than
purebred cattle, although much of the information is applicable
to purebred herds.
SELECTION OF BEEF CATTLE
Most commercial beef cattle production programs utilize
beef breeds rather than so-called dual-purpose cattle. Research
has repeatedly indicated that as much or more variation exists
between animals of the same breed as between animals of differ-
ent breeds. The breed of beef cattle used is important to cattle-
men from the standpoint of personal satisfaction and could pos-
sibly affect returns (20)2. However, returns probably will be
more affected by the choice of individual animals than by choice
The ultimate goal of cattlemen is to have a profitable enter-
prise. In order to do this the beef cattleman of the future will
have to increase production and efficiency by improving his se-
lection of cattle, whether it be for a cow-and-calf, stocker, or
feeder program. Management practices may determine the mar-
gins of profit or loss in a cattle enterprise, but they cannot com-
pletely offset improper animal selection. Much information is
available concerning factors that are important in selecting
beef cattle (46). This chapter will present a brief summary and
discussion of factors important in selecting beef cattle for the
Breeds of Beef Cattle to Use
Considerable information is available concerning the relative
merits of the various breeds of beef cattle. In a recent review
(46), the breeds of cattle important in Florida were discussed
in detail. There are many other sources of information con-
cerning the different breeds of beef cattle and this section will
discuss only briefly the breeds presently predominant in south
Native Florida Cattle.-The so-called "native" beef cattle
of Florida are descendants of cattle brought to this country dur-
SFigures in parenthesis refer to Literature Cited.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 5
ing the 16th century. Through many years of adaptation to an
environment that included the cattle fever tick, diseases, ex-
tremely unproductive native pasture, internal and external para-
sites, nutritional deficiencies and imbalances, and poor manage-
ment, the original stock developed into a small, slowly maturing,
relatively unproductive animal that was able to maintain itself
fairly well under native Florida conditions. Figure 1 presents
typical native Florida cattle. This was the dominant animal in
the cattle industry of Florida until about 1940 and served as the
foundation of many of the excellent commercial cattle herds in
Figure 1.-Native cattle of south Florida in 1930's.
American Brahman.-The Brahman cattle such as those
found in south Florida are shown in Figure 2. The American
Brahman is a composite of many breeds of Bos indicus cattle
that have been introduced into this country from India and Bra-
zil since the turn of the century. The American Brahman has
evolved from several decades of selection for a type that exhibits
the Brahman physiological characteristics but which also has
a desirable beef-type conformation. The Brahman probably has
had more significant effect on cattle production in south Florida
than any other breed of cattle because of the wide-spread breed-
ing of Brahman bulls with native Florida cows. It has been
estimated that Brahman sires improved the size of native Flor-
ida cattle by 40 to 50 percent. This cross resulted in a type of
range animal still found in abundance in south Florida. The
wide-spread use of Brahman bulls was for the purpose of pro-
ducing cattle that would perform well in the humid, subtropical
6 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
COURTESY SOUTHEASTERN DRAHMAN BREEDERS ASSOCIATION
Figure 2.-American Brahman typical of those found in south Florida.
conditions of south Florida and be more productive than native
Angus.-One of the predominant breeds in the United States,
Angus cattle have been used in south Florida for many years.
Figure 3 shows Angus cattle produced in the Everglades. The
prepotency of the breed for type, color, and polled character has
made it extremely popular with commercial cattlemen in south
Florida during the past few years.
Observations at the Everglades Station suggest that ade-
quate shade should be provided for optimum comfort of this
breed. Also, the black color is attractive to flies and attention
may be required to control these insects. However, these factors
are more than offset by the advantages of this breed. In feed-
ing experiments at the Everglades Station (20), Angus steers
outperformed those of other breeds, when fed in drylot. The
breed as a whole typifies the conformation desired by many cat-
tlemen, as it is compact and low-set, with the qualities necessary
to produce an excellent carcass.
However, the very qualities that popularize the Angus else-
where have been criticized by commercial cattlemen in south
Florida. In earlier days, problems were occasionally encountered
when cattlemen attempted to breed short-legged, compact Angus
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 7
bulls to long-legged, rangy, grade Brahman cows. However,
the continued use of Angus bulls with grade Brahman cows has
resulted in the gradual development of a commercial cow that is
not quite as upstanding, making this problem less critical.
.- .i .. .
Figure 3.-Angus cows produced in Everglades.
Hereford (Horned and Polled).-There are more horned Here-
ford cattle than any other breed in this country. Hereford sires
have also formed the basis for many of the commercial herds
found in south Florida. Figure 4 shows Hereford cattle that
SI ,- A't-. '
.- , l ^ : "* .
.* ." , .- . ~. .,. ,,. "-''.. .
... ..... -- -.*.- . ... -,v
Figure 4.--Hereford cattle produced in Everglades.
8 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
have been raised in the Everglades area. Cattle of European
origin, such as the Hereford and Angus, suffer more from the
environmental conditions found in the Everglades than do Brah-
man or Brahman-English crosses. However, like other breeds
of European origin, the Hereford will perform satisfactorily in
south Florida if provided adequate shade, management, and nu-
The Hereford has been criticized for a susceptibility to pink
eye and cancer eye. At the Everglades Station the incidence
of pink eye seems no greater among Hereford cattle than among
other European breeds. While cancer-eye is reportedly a breed
characteristic (46), it appears to be most prevalent in older
The polled Hereford is similar physically to the horned Here-
ford and is preferred by some because of the lack of horns.
However, the polled animal may often lack the thickness of flesh-
ing and the type of hindquarters desirable in beef cattle. The
commercial cattleman choosing to use polled Hereford bulls should
be careful to select individuals that have the desired thickness
of back and hindquarters.
Shorthorns.-Not as widely used in south Florida as the
other European breeds of cattle, Shorthorns have proved them-
selves capable producers in the Everglades, where they have
existed for many years. Shorthorn cattle have been used for
approximately 20 years at the Range Cattle Station, where they
have been demonstrated to be well adapted for use in producing
Brahman-Shorthorn crossbred cattle. Shorthorns, as a breed,
are larger than the Hereford or Angus breeds and are adapted
to use large quantities of forage material. They also are capable
of satisfactory production in the Everglades if provided adequate
shade, management, and nutrition.
Crossbred Cattle.-As mentioned earlier, the use of the Brah-
man by commercial cattlemen has been primarily for crossing
with native and/or European cattle. This practice has evolved
from the large scale use of the Brahman in the Gulf Coast states
to develop cattle that were more productive and better adapted
to the environmental conditions. Crossbreeding is now practiced
in many areas of the country, but has proved to be particularly
beneficial in the Everglades area. Figures 5 and 6 show cross-
bred cattle raised in south Florida.
Increased growth and performance can be obtained by cross-
ing the Brahman with any of the major European breeds of
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 9
beef cattle. In Louisiana (24) Brangus and Brahman cows bred
to Hereford and Shorthorn bulls produced calves that weighed
more and graded higher at weaning than purebred calves. At
the Everglades Station (42, 44, 45), crosses of the Brahman
with either the Angus, Hereford, or Devon breeds have been
consistently superior to any of the straight European lines, at
weaning time. Eighteen years of study at the Range Cattle
Figure 5.-Brahman x Angus crossbred cattle produced in the Everglades.
Figure 6.-Brahman x Hereford crossbred cattle produced
in the Everglades.
10 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Station at Ona (51) demonstrated the same results from cross-
ing Brahman and Shorthorn cattle.
From the commercial cattleman's standpoint there are some
disadvantages in crossbreeding cattle. A certain amount of
uniformity may be lost, some price discrimination by the meat
packer reportedly has been experienced against the Brahman
crossbred, and problems arise after a few years in maintaining
cows of a variety of breed compositions to be bred to the proper
breed of bull. Despite these disadvantages, crossbred cattle
have definite merit for the commercial cattleman of the Ever-
glades and south Florida. A more detailed discussion of cross-
breeding systems is available (23, 44). Additional research and
application by cattlemen will undoubtedly minimize these dis-
advantages during the next few years.
Other Breeds and Strains.-As a result of the interest in
crossing the Brahman with European breeds, there have been
several breeds or strains of cattle developed that have rapidly
increased in popularity and which possess characteristics that
have proved of value in the south Florida area. Those used in
cattle programs in south Florida are the Santa Gertrudis, Bran-
gus, and Charbray.
Detailed information concerning the development and char-
acteristics of the Santa Gertrudis breed is available (46). The
breed performs well in the subtropical conditions found in south
Florida, where herds have been in existence for many years.
Work at the Everglades Station (20) indicates there is consider-
able variation in the performance of Santa Gertrudis steers
when placed on fattening rations. However, in the same test,
steers of this breed outgained other breeds, when fed on pas-
ture. The breed is relatively slow to mature and usually pro-
duces carcasses having a high ratio of lean to fat tissues.
Early crossbreeding work emphasized that cattle of approxi-
mately % Brahman and % European breeding would perform
exceptionally well. From this practice Brangus cattle, which
are % Brahman and 5/8 Angus, were developed. Brangus or
Brangus-type cattle have met with widespread acceptance by
many cattlemen in south Florida. One reason appears to be
the relative uniformity of color occurring in this cross as com-
pared to other Brahman x English crosses. Also, the Brangus
appears to retain some of the characteristics of the Angus breed
and usually performs well in the feedlot (20).
The Charolais is a French breed of cattle, and Charbray cat-
tle are the result of crossing the Charolais and Brahman breeds.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 11
Both are large, heavy-boned, heavy-muscled, long-bodied, rapidly
growing cattle and have been readily accepted by cattlemen of
central and south Florida. In feeding studies at the Everglades
Station (20), Charbray steers gained better than average on
pasture, but did not do as well in drylot, indicating the advan-
tage of this breed in utilizing large quantities of forage. Char-
bray cattle are also relatively slow maturing, and much of the
gain in feed lot may be growth rather than fat deposition. As a
result, the cattle did not have quite as high carcass grades as
European-type cattle on the same feed ration.
This is the predominant type of beef cattle operation through-
out the country and is especially adapted to areas, such as the
Everglades, that have large amounts of available forage. Pas-
ture should be the basis for this program, with supplemental feed
being used to balance forage nutritional inadequacies. Success-
ful cow-and-calf programs have been conducted for many years
on peat and muck soil.
A successful cow-and-calf program should be a "three-way"
operation. Calves should be of sufficient quality to allow the
producer the option of (1) selling them at weaning, (2) placing
them in the feedlot, or (3) utilizing them as stocker cattle, de-
pending upon market conditions. A cattleman who fails to real-
ize this is limiting his scope of operation. In selecting females
for a cow-and-calf program, the following factors should be con-
Reproductive Efficiency.-This is the most important factor
affecting the financial success or failure of a cow-and-calf pro-
gram. Hereditary tendencies exist in beef cattle regarding this
factor and should not be overlooked. In purchasing cows, every
attempt should be made to obtain good producing animals. ( A
recent survey (58) found that the average pregnancy rate in
Florida beef herds from 1953 to 1957 was 70.9 percent. This is
too low. During this same period, however, there were herds
of cattle with pregnancy rates of 85 to 90 percent, indicating
the possibility of attaining an adequate reproduction rate.) It
is vital that cows have the ability to grow, reproduce, and per-
Mothering and Milking Abilities.-This is probably the most
important limiting factor in many of the herds in the Everglades
area. It is essential that cows have good mothering and milk-
12 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
ing abilities to produce rapid-growing, bloomyy" calves, if heavy
slaughter calves are to be sold at weaning.
There are other factors that are important in selecting cattle
for a cow and calf program, including conformation (body shape),
uniformity of appearance, and temperament. These are dis-
cussed in detail in another publication (46).
Stocker and Feedlot Programs
In terms of numbers of cattlemen, stocker operations dom-
inated the early cattle industry in the Everglades. Reasons for
this included management problems which made early cow-and-
calf programs difficult, an abundance of good forage, and the
relative ease with which a stocker operation could fit in with
other agricultural enterprises. During recent years there has
been an increased interest in feedlot operations or a combina-
tion stocker-feeder program. Many characteristics of cattle nec-
essary for success in these operations have been mentioned in
the cow-and-calf program.
Stocker and feeder cattle should have good feeding and flesh-
ing qualities for optimum returns to be realized. Cattle with
these qualities will usually fatten quickly, at an early age, and
will utilize feed efficiently. Stockers with these qualities gen-
erally bring a greater return than those without them. Proper
conformation is often closely related to fleshing quality. Recent
developments in marketing cattle place more importance on the
selection of feeders that will yield a high weight percentage
of the higher priced cuts of meat. Excess fat is one of the pri-
mary reasons for having a poor cut-out value. Animals that
are too short tend to have a higher percent of fat. Animals
with a moderate length of body tend to have a higher retail
value. There are publications related to the selection of cattle
for stocker and feedlot programs (46).
GENERAL CATTLE MANAGEMENT PRACTICES
Much information is available concerning management prac-
tices that should be considered by the commercial cattleman.
It is not the intent of this publication to discuss all of these in
detail, but to present those which are recommended for cattle
on muck soils. Some will be similar to those practiced in other
areas of the state; some will be different. Also, it is realized
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 13
that modification may be necessary, but these recommendations
will be applicable in the majority of instances.
Breeding Season.-The management of breeding cattle is
easier if a breeding period of a specified time length is used.
At its conclusion, the bulls should be removed from the breed-
ing herd. This will make it necessary to provide a place to keep
the bulls during the remainder of the year. However, such a
system has a number of advantages. It limits to a specified
period the time that the cattleman must watch for calving dis-
orders; allows a systematic culling of unproductive cows; per-
mits calves to be weaned at a more uniform weight and age; in-
creases percent calf-crop; allows brood cows to winter in better
condition; and permits bulls to stay in better condition. A max-
imum of a 90-day breeding season beginning in January or early
February is suggested for the Everglades area.
Number of Bulls To Use.-On organic soils, it is recom-
mended that the size of a pasture not exceed 80 acres. Under
these conditions, in multiple-sire herds, a mature bull in good
condition can breed approximately 20 to 25 cows. Under similar
conditions, the same bull could serve 35 cows in a single sire
herd. The average commercial cattleman in the Everglades will
have multiple sire herds, and if the ratio of 20 to 25 cows to a
bull is exceeded, there will probably be a reduced calf crop. Bulls
should be checked for breeding soundness each year prior to
use. It is suggested that bulls should be semen tested before
being used for the first time in the breeding herd. The use of
bulls having semen with defective or abnormal sperm may cause
a lowered percentage of pregnant cows.
Pregnancy Diagnosis.-A practice which has been increasing
in popularity with commercial cattlemen in the Everglades is
that of pregnancy diagnosis of brood cows. The diagnosis is
done by rectal palpation and requires that the cows be handled
individually through a squeeze chute approximately 60 to 90
days after the bulls are removed from the breeding herd. A
specially trained technician or veterinarian is required. After
palpation the open (nonpregnant) cows should be separated
from the bred cows. This will allow the bred cows to be given
the best care and will indicate the number of calves to expect.
It is strongly recommended that all females be sold that are
open after being exposed to the bull. If an open cow is kept,
it will be two years before she may produce a marketable calf,
and she will probably continue to be a slow breeder.
14 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Calving Season.-Breeding research at the Everglades Sta-
tion has shown that calves born during the winter months have
a heavier weaning weight than those born during the spring
and summer. As weather records indicate the probability of
hurricanes at 5 to 10 year intervals, it is recommended that the
calving season begin no earlier than October 1 in order to have
reasonable assurance that new-born calves will not be exposed
to excessive rains during the first few days after birth.
Weaning Time.-Calves should be weaned at 7 to 8 months
of age. At weaning time, it is necessary to select heifers for
possible herd replacement as well as to perform other routine
management chores, such as firebranding, vaccinating, and grad-
ing and weighing of calves for production testing. These pro-
cedures will vary from ranch to ranch. For example, some
may prefer to brand calves at 3 to 4 months of age or some may
not follow a production testing program.
Number of Heifers To Keep for Replacements.-If the breed-
ing herd is not to be increased, 20 to 22 heifers for each 100
cows should be kept, each year, as herd replacement. A good
policy is to keep 50 percent of heifers for prospective replace-
ments. There are several reasons for this. Commercial cows
will usually be sold by the time they reach 10 years of age. To
continually improve the efficiency of the herd, all open cows and
8 to 10 percent of the lower producing cows should be culled
annually. In addition, there is generally a 2 percent death loss
in a herd. This would require 20 to 22 heifers as breeding herd
replacements each year for each 100 cows. Thus, with a normal
50-50 ratio of males and females, approximately 50 percent of
the females should be kept at weaning time. There are ex-
ceptions, but it is generally recommended that heifers be two
years of age before first exposure to the bull.
Identification.-The extent to which identification will prove
beneficial to the cattleman is directly related to the management
program. Identification is useful to establish ownership and
for record keeping. If calves are to be individually identified,
it is necessary to check the breeding herds daily during the
calving season and to place identification on the calf as soon as
possible after birth. One man can easily handle the calf at this
age to place identification on the animal. Various ways of mark-
ing the calf include tatooing the ear, attaching plastic or metal
ear tags, notching the ear, or using neck chains. Neck chains
require continuous supervision and are usually not practical for
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 15
commercial cattlemen in the Everglades. A permanent identifi-
cation can be placed on calves with a fire brand. However, it
is recommended that this not be done before the calf is 3 to 4
months old or until weaning time.
Dehorning.-The value of feeders and stockers increases if
horns are removed. The easiest and simplest procedure is to
remove the button as soon after birth as practical. This is
usually at 2 to 4 months of age. As long as there is no danger
of screwworms, it is a simple matter to remove the button me-
chanically with a dehorning tube. A tube of sufficient diameter
to fit over the button should be used and should be kept sharp
and free of rust. If dehorning is done at the button stage of
development, it can be accomplished with a minimum of labor.
There will be little bleeding and it will not be necessary to sear
the wound or treat with a medicant. As the calf became older,
dehorning becomes more difficult and has more detrimental effect
on the animal.
Castration.-Male calves should be castrated with a knife
as soon as possible after birth unless there is a definite reason
for keeping bull calves. The younger the animal when castrated,
the less adverse effect the operation will have. Burdizzo cas-
trators or emasculators are not recommended because of the
high percentage of staggy-appearing steers that usually result.
Vaccination.-All calves in southern Florida should be vacci-
nated for blackleg and malignant edema. These two diseases
are very common in the Everglades but can be easily prevented
by vaccination with a mixed bacterin when the calves are 2 to 4
months of age and again at weaning time. Heifer calves should
be vaccinated from 4 to 8 months of age for Brucellosis control.
TABLE 1.-RECOMMENDED PRACTICES FOR BEEF CATTLE MANAGEMENT
IN THE EVERGLADES.
Breeding season Jan. 1-15 to April 1-15
Pregnancy test July 1-15
Calving season Oct. 10-24 to Jan. 8-22
Weaning period June 1-15-first weaning
August 1-15--second weaning
Dehorn At 6-12 weeks of age
Castration At birth
Identification At birth, followed by fire-brand when calf
is 3-8 months of age
Blackleg and malignant edema At 2-4 months of age and at weaning
Brucellosis At 4-8 months of age
16 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations,
Major Disease Problems
There are several diseases or conditions of major economic
importance to cattlemen of south Florida. Most of these are also
common elsewhere. They can usually be prevented or minimized
by precautionary measures such as vaccination or proper man-
agement practices. A qualified veterinarian should be con-
sulted if a disease is suspected.
The more common diseases, listed in alphabetical order, are
anaplasmosis, blackleg, brucellosis, hemorrhagic septicemia, ma-
lignant edema, and tetanus. Other common conditions that ad-
versely affect cattle in the Everglades include photosensitiza-
tion, pink eye or pink-eye-like conditions, nitrate poisoning, tox-
icities due to weeds, mineral imbalances and certain diseases
associated with reproduction disorders, such as trichomoniasis,
vibriosis, and leptospirosis.
Detailed information is available regarding photosensitiza-
tion in beef cattle (41). Local veterinarians or workers at the
Osceola County Diagnostic Laboratory of the Animal Industry
Division of Florida Department of Agriculture, Kissimmee, or
the Veterinary Science Department, University of Florida, should
be contacted when disease problems are consistently experienced.
Internal and External Parasites
Environmental factors present in the Everglades are favor-
able for the propagation of internal and external parasites.
For example, infestations of stomach and intestinal parasites
are commonly experienced when cattle are not properly man-
aged. These infestations can be minimized by adequate water
control, not allowing cattle to drink from ditches and canals,
and by proper use of worm medicines. Phenothiazine has been
widely used for control of adult worms. Results of low-level
feeding of phenothiazine have been variable (25, 54). Another
internal parasite experienced in calves, particularly under flooded
conditions, is the lungworm. The incidence of this parasite can
also be greatly reduced by adequate water control. Local veteri-
narians should be consulted if the parasite becomes a problem.
Liver flukes are a major problem in many areas of south Florida.
Information is available concerning this parasite (55). Although
personnel of the Everglades Station have not observed liver
flukes in cattle born and raised on organic soil, Ibcal veterinar-
ians have reported this (35). Therefore it is currently recom-
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 17
mended that therapeutic treatment for liver flukes be routinely
External parasites of importance in the Everglades are heel
flies, horn flies, and mosquitoes. Two systemic insecticides, Co-
Ral and Ronnel, have proved effective in controlling the heel-
fly (31). Detailed information is available concerning current
recommendations for the chemical control of the other external
parasites (8, 26).
PASTURES AND PASTURE MANAGEMENT
Pasture programs on the organic soils of the Everglades
differ basically in some respects from programs used in the
rest of Florida; yet many aspects are common to the entire
state. There is presented here a brief discussion of the pre-
dominant soil types, recommended practices to follow and re-
quirements in establishing new pastures, characteristics of the
major forages used, control of pasture insects, and results of
grazing experiments with beef cattle.
Soils of the Everglades consist primarily of those classified'
as muck, peaty muck, or peat. These soils are highly organic,
ranging in organic matter contents of approximately 40 percent
for some of the muck soils to 90 percent in the peat soils. A
majority of the soils available for pasture are of the peat or
peaty muck types which are in Class III in respect to use capa-
bility. Soils in this classification require somewhat intensive
treatment for successful utilization. Before a proposed area
is utilized for pasture, its characteristics should be studied from
maps of a soil survey of the Everglades (36).
First consideration in land development must be given to
water control. This consists of providing for the removal of
excess water during periods of heavy rainfall as well as applica-
tion of irrigation water during periods of deficient rainfall.
Such control is achieved by means of a perimeter levee supple-
mented with an internal system of canals and ditches in which
the desired water level is maintained by reversible low-lift
pumps. These pumps should be located with easy access to pub-
licly maintained waterways that are adequate to carry away
18 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
excess flood waters and also provide ample water during drouth
periods. The pumps are usually of the centrifugal or propeller
types as described by Stephens et al. (52).
The drainage system must be designed to furnish water to
and remove water from all parts of the pasture. This is usually
accomplished with a system of lateral ditches extending in both
directions from a central ditch leading to the pumps. Laterals
may be cut four to each mile of main ditch, thus dividing a sec-
tion of land into eight 80-acre pastures. Additional laterals
with a resulting increased number of smaller pastures may pro-
vide more effective water control but will increase installation
and maintenance costs of drainage facility and will also necessi-
tate additional fencing. On the other hand, smaller pastures
afford more versatility in pasture and herd management, which
may be desired in some operations. After the ditches are in-
stalled, a further aid to good drainage and irrigation is provided
by the installation of mole-drains (21). For the most effective
development of drainage facilities in a large area, it is suggested
that a competent drainage engineer be consulted.
After an adequate drainage system is installed, the entire
area can be maintained in a workable condition under most nor-
mal weather conditions. All operations involved in land prepa-
ration and the planting and maintenance of pastures can usually
be accomplished by maintaining the water table at 18 to 36
inches, depending upon water needs at any particular time and
the ability of the drainage system to remove excess water.
Costs of pumping and maintenance of water control equipment
will depend upon various factors but have been estimated at
$1.50 to $2.25 per acre per year (32, 34).
If operations are initiated during the dry winter months, it
may be possible to begin land preparation at the same time that-
installation of drainage facilities is begun. Under most condi-
tions, however, where flooding has occurred or is likely to occur,
none but the initial phases of land preparation should be at-
tempted until after installation of the drainage system.
The first step in land preparation consists of removal of brush
and other vegetation that will interfere with plowing. If the
brush is piled and burned, extreme care must be exercised to
prevent ignition of the soil and consequent loss of some top soil
at the burning sites. As soon as the land is cleared, the usual
dense growth of sedges, grasses, and weeds should be destroyed
with a chopper. Following partial decay of this vegetation, the
land may be plowed with an 18-inch single mole board plow with
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 19
a rolling coulter. Spoil from ditch excavations should be leveled
prior to plowing. Subsequent disking and leveling operations
should be done with care to provide a well-prepared seedbed.
Because of the relative uniformity of virgin Everglades
soils, adequate fertilization can usually be accomplished from
a uniform application of mixed fertilizer. The usual fertilizer
recommendation is 500 pounds per acre of an 0-8-24 mixture
containing 3 percent CuO, 2 percent MnO, 1 percent ZnO, and
0.5 percent B203. Such an application should provide the nec-
essary amounts of copper, other micronutrients, potassium, and
phosphorus to establish the grass. This fertilizer should be
broadcast and disked into the soil prior to planting.
Subsequent fertilization applications should be based on lab-
oratory analyses of soil samples. Generally, during the first
three or four years, annual applications of 300 to 500 pounds of
an 0-8-24 or 0-10-20 mixture containing 1 percent CuO are re-
quired. After approximately five years, it is usually necessary
to increase the phosphate to potash ratio with annual applica-
tions of 300 to 500 pounds of an 0-12-16 mixture containing 1
percent CuO. The mineral sources generally used in fertilizer
manufacture are satisfactory for pasture fertilization on or-
These are general fertilizer recommendations and are ap-
plicable when management involves grazing only. Under spe-
cial conditions where the grasses are cut for hay, soilage, or si-
lage, or removed as sod, additional plant nutrients must be re-
placed. It is suggested that chemists at the Everglades Station
or your county agricultural agent be consulted for specific recom-
mendations to meet the needs of various pasture uses and con-
Permanent Pasture Grasses
There is no native range on the organic soils of south Florida.
Cattle on these soils are dependent on improved pastures for
grazing. The forages primarily recommended for permanent
pastures are Roselawn St. Augustinegrass, Pensacola and Ar-
gentine bahiagrasses, paragrass, and pangolagrass.
Roselawn St. Augustinegrass.-This is a runner-type sod-
forming grass which has performed excellently on organic soils
of south Florida. It is moderately frost resistant and furnishes
some grazing throughout the winter months. This grass is
relatively free of diseases, but on dry locations has been subject
to severe damage by chinch bug. However, constant soil mois-
20 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
ture supplied by a proper water control system will effectively
control this insect. In grazing experiments at the Everglades
Station since 1951, Roselawn has routinely produced approxi-
mately 900 to 1,000 pounds of gain per acre annually. For max-
imum production, Roselawn St. Augustinegrass should be kept
6 to 8 inches high. This height will yield a high ratio of leaf
to stem and will furnish larger amounts of digestible nutrients
to beef cattle than when allowed to become taller or kept shorter.
Roselawn may be grazed continuously or rotationally with sim-
ilar results (Table 2).
TABLE 2.-AVERAGE ANIMAL GAINS PER ACRE FROM ROSELAWN
ST. AUGUSTINEGRASS, 1951-56 (LBS.) (1).
Pounds Gain per Acre
Period of Year Rotationally grazed Continuously grazed
November-February 82 90
March-June 488 603
July-October 388 408
Total 958 1101
This grass is reproduced vegetatively. Either stem cuttings
or sod pieces may be used when planting new pasture. Stem
cuttings with four or more joints may be spread evenly on pre-
pared soil, disked in, and rolled. This gives good results if soil
moisture conditions are good. It is extremely important to disk
the cuttings in as soon as possible after mowing. The use of sod
pieces 3 to 4 inches square is common and is more reliable during
periods of dry weather.
Paragrass.-This is a relatively tall growing, runner-type
grass which spreads rapidly but does not form a dense sod.
Weeds may be a problem in early spring or if the grass is over-
grazed. These problems can be effectively controlled with good
Paragrass is very tolerant of flooded conditions. This is an
advantage during periods of wet weather or in low, poorly
drained areas, but may be a disadvantage also, as the grass will
grow into water control ditches and impede drainage or irriga-
tion. Paragrass is relatively free from insect damage but some-
times shows susceptibility to a helminthosporium leaf disease.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 21
It may be grazed either continuously or rotationally but is sus-
ceptible to overgrazing. Growth under grazing should not ex-
ceed 15 to 18 inches in order to minimize loss from trampling.
Paragrass is susceptible to light frosts but will recover from
the crowns as soon as warm weather occurs. It will recover
from frost quicker if kept short in late fall and winter. In
Experiment Station grazing trials, it has produced over 900
pounds gain per acre per year on yearlings in spite of being
out of production an average of five weeks per year due to frost.
It can produce 40 to 50 tons per acre of green material annually
under a cutting program.
This grass is reproduced vegetatively. New pastures are
planted by spreading fresh cut grass, with several joints per
stem, on prepared soil. It should be immediately disked in.
Rolling will insure a better stand. Of the grasses planted by
this method, paragrass is probably the most easily and quickly
Pensacola and Argentine Bahiagrasses.-These are both ac-
cepted as well adapted pasture grasses on the organic soils.
Common bahia is not recommended. Individual plants spread
slower than other runner-type grasses, but the bahias are rel-
atively aggressive and make good dense sod cover when estab-
Pensacola bahia has long narrow leaves with the stem re-
maining close to the ground. It is the most frost resistant of
the recommended permanent grasses and will stand tempera-
tures in the low twenties. It is planted by seed, preferably in
late winter or early spring, but may be planted in the fall if
proper weed control measures are taken in order to protect the
seedlings. Seed should be planted 1 to 2 inch deep and the
ground rolled after planting.
Argentine bahiagrass has wider leaves and slightly larger
seeds than Pensacola, but growth habits are very similar. It
is about equal to St. Augustinegrass in frost resistance, with-
standing temperatures to the mid-twenties. It appears to be
slightly more palatable than Pensacola. In most other character-
istics, the two grasses are very similar. Both are quite free
of insects and diseases. They will stand fairly heavy continuous
grazing and will recover well from periods of overgrazing.
In experimental trials, the bahia grasses have not been as
consistently productive as Roselawn St. Augustinegrass or para-
grass (28, 29). They have had a higher carrying capacity, but
a lower weight gain per animal. They appear to be fairly good
22 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
grasses for herd maintenance, but not as good as Roselawn St.
Augustinegrass for growing or fattening young animals.
Pangolagrass.-This is a runner-type grass with relatively
long internodes, fine stems, and narrow leaves. It forms a
denser ground cover than paragrass but does not form a tight
sod like St. Augustinegrass. It will produce 30 to 35 tons per
acre of green material annually and has produced 800 to 900
pounds per acre of beef in grazing trials. Pangolagrass is sensi-
tive to light frosts, but recovers well in the spring months and
responds very well to fertilization. Under heavy grazing, espe-
cially during winter, it will be invaded by common bermudagrass
and weeds. It is very difficult to recover a solid stand of pangola
under these circumstances. If bermudagrass patches are not
too large, they may be crowded or shaded out by withholding
grazing for several weeks after the pangola has started to grow
in the early spring. On organic soils, careful management is
required to maintain a good stand of pangolagrass. It is very
sensitive to copper deficiency but quite free of diseases. It is
subject to severe attack by the yellow sugarcane aphid in early
fall and sometimes in spring.
Pangolagrass produces seed heads in late spring and sum-
mer but has no viable seed. It is reproduced vegetatively. New
pastures are established by spreading sprigs of fresh-cut tall
grass, disking, and rolling the same as with paragrass. This
should be done when soil moisture conditions are good.
Caribgrass.-Similar appearance makes it difficult to distin-
guish caribgrass from paragrass. The principal differences are
that caribgrass has a slightly brighter green color, especially on
younger growth, and a tendency to produce seed heads as early
as August. Seed heads do not appear on paragrass before No-
vember. It is slower than paragrass to recover from frosts. In
other growth, production, and management characteristics, it
is almost identical to paragrass.
Bermudagrass.-This grass is not recommended for cattle on
organic soil pastures. In grazing trials, common bermudagrass
has produced only 25 to 30 percent of the weight gain of recom-
mended pasture grasses. The improved sterile hybrid bermudas,
such as Coastal or Suwannee, under grazing conditions, soon be-
come contaminated and overrun by Common bermuda. Common
bermuda is less palatable than other grasses. In pastures where
bermuda gets started, especially in pangola and bahia pastures,
the other grass is usually grazed and bermuda permitted to
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 23
Miscellaneous.-Many other grasses have been tested and
found not adapted to this area. Some of those tested in grazing
studies and not recommended because of management or other
problems are napier, dallis, centipede, fescue, carpet, guinea,
molasses, reed canary, rhodes, and vasey grasses. Some of these
appeared to have promise for a short time but were dropped for
various reasons or replaced with better grasses. These varieties
may be satisfactory in isolated cases but are not recommended
for wide usage.
Several weeds found on the muck soils are toxic to beef cat-
tle. Some of these are of major economic importance. The
.more prominent poisonous weeds are common lantana (Lantana
camera L.), castor bean (Ricinus communis L.), elderberry
(Sambucus canadensis L.), nightshade ( Solanum gracile Link),
johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense (L.) Pers.), and butterweed
(Senecio glabellus. Poir.).
A complete discussion of most of these has been published
(59). Generally, beef cattle will not voluntarily eat poisonous
plants. However, under conditions of overgrazed pasture, nutri-
tional imbalance, or starvation, they may eat the plants. Also,
as in the case of butterweed, cattle may consume poisonous
plants by accident. Poisonous weeds can generally be eliminated
by proper grazing management supplemented with an adequate
chemical control program (50).
Pasture Management and Supplementation
Since 1951, the major perennial forages, Roselawn St. Augus-
tinegrass, pangolagrass, and paragrass, have each routinely pro-
duced 800 to 1,000 pounds of animal gain annually per acre with
yearling cattle in grazing experiments at the Everglades Station
(1, 28, 29). Since 1958, Pensacola and Argentine bahiagrass
have produced 600 to 1,000 pounds per acre per year. Yet, there
continue to be many instances of beef cattle on the muck and
peat soils not performing well due to insufficient pasture. The
principal reason is that many pastures are greatly overgrazed.
The situation, becoming more and more apparent as the cattle
population in the Everglades continues to increase, is that ranch-
es will be stocked to utilize the abundant forage available during
the summer and, quite often, cattle inventories are not reduced
sufficiently during the fall and winter months. This results in
24 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
the permanent pasture's not being able to adequately support
the large number of cattle during this period of the year. The
situation is relatively the same as experienced elsewhere except
that it is magnified by larger numbers of animals upon a given
For example, in grazing experiments at the Everglades Sta-
tion during a five-year period (1), an extreme fluctuation oc-
curred in carrying capacity from approximately two 1,000-pound
animal equivalents from March through October down to about
0.70 of a unit from November through February. Approxi-
mately 92 percent of the animal gain was produced during the
months that the carrying capacity was highest. The same
relative results have been obtained during recent grazing ex-
periments (28, 29) with paragrass, pangolagrass, and Pensacola
and Argentine bahiagrass.
If weight losses are to be minimized during the fall and win-
ter months, cattlemen must either reduce cattle inventories or
provide supplemental feed during this period. Supplemental
feed may be provided in the form of temporary pasture forage,
silage or hay made from excess forage during the summer, utili-
zation of sugarcane, corn or sorghum silage, or various feed in-
Frost resistant winter crops can be planted on prepared seed-
beds or over-seeded or interplanted in permanent pastures. Crops
that can be used for this purpose are ryegrass, oats, gator rye,
and rescuegrass. Legumes, such as hairy Peruvian alfalfa, hu-
bam sweet clover, white clover, and other clovers have been used
but are susceptible to danger by chemicals used for weed control.
These crops should be planted as soon as possible after mid-
September, and should not be grazed until 21/2 to 3 months after
Good quality grass silage can be made from excess grass
during the spring and summer. This has merit when the ma-
terial can be fed economically. The physical structure of organic
soils necessitates that silos be established on a surface that
will withstand vehicular or animal traffic during rainy weather.
Field curing of hay has not been consistently successful, due to
heavy rainfall during the time of the year that excess forage is
available for preservation.
The practice of holding ungrazed pastures over for winter
feed has been followed. This will provide winter feed, but the
forage is usually quite stemmy and over-mature, and of rather
low nutritive value.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 25
EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES
Due to the physical characteristics of organic soil, some mod-
ifications are required in the equipment and facilities normally
used in handling beef cattle. It should be remembered that dur-
ing periods of heavy rainfall, muck and peat soil will not sup-
port heavy weights unless sufficient flotation is provided. Also,
places where cattle accumulate, such as around gates, water
troughs, and feed boxes, will become mudholes unless precau-
tions are taken to prevent it (Figure 7). Modifications which
must be considered will be discussed in some detail.
Most organic soils lack the density to hold fence posts up-
right unless the posts are placed deep enough into the ground
and close enough together. The fence will not remain tight
unless sufficient bracing is provided on corners and at intervals
in long stretches of straight fence. Also, fences constructed too
close to the edge of ditches will be pushed over into the ditch.
Figure 7.-Example of typical mudhole where efficient all-weather surface
was not provided.
26 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
There are several ways to build an adequate, long-lasting
fence on the muck soil. Probably the primary requisite is prop-
erly constructed corner braces. If the corners are not adequately
constructed, they will gradually be pulled out of the ground. If
wire is to be stretched for distances exceeding 1/8 mile, it is sug-
gested that brace posts, such as shown in Figure 8, be constructed
at approximately 400 to 500-foot intervals. This will allow more
tension to be placed on the fence wire without pulling corner
braces and other posts out of the ground.
It is a common practice in the Everglades to use 61/2 to 7-
foot posts with a 21/2 to 3-inch minimum top. This is an eco-
nomically priced fence post, but fences built with this size post
will usually need rebuilding within a 4 to 5-year period, or even
less. Except in the most dense organic soils, the 61/o to 7-foot
post usually does not go into the ground deep enough to provide
the rigidity necessary to prevent cattle from pushing the fence
over. Engineering research has proved that additional length
will provide more rigidity than additional thickness, and it is
recommended that 71/2 to 8-foot line posts with a minimum 3-
inch top be used. The longer post is more expensive but under
normal conditions will require less maintenance and provide
more stability. An example of this type of fence is shown in
Figure 8.-Example of satisfactory line fence brace.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 27
Considerable variation can be found in the manner of con-
structing line fencing. Generally, a 10-foot spacing between
line posts will provide a sound, strong fence. Longer spacings
(such as 12 to 15 feet) may be satisfactory for a while but will
be less stable and will be more apt to be pushed over.
One of the commonest experiences with gateways on organic
soils is that continued traffic of vehicles and cattle through the
\ i^>r. r .
".. "''4 1 10. .
"". -. 0 *, d X...
"" 9. ,a t' .farct"r ln fece
Figure 9.-Example of satisfactory line fence.
28 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
opening will gradually widen the gate opening by pushing the
gateposts outwards. Gates are then too short, and brace posts
at gateways are pushed back to allow the fence to loosen. Gates
that are excessively heavy will result in the gatepost's gradually
being pulled to one side, again weakening the line fence. It is
necessary to have gate brace posts constructed in the same man-
ner as corner braces. Also, a gate constructed of light weight
material should be used. Light weight gates will be damaged
more easily than heavier gates by cattle or equipment, but will
be easier to maintain. Figure 10 presents several examples
of gates that have been successfully used.
For a gateway to be used during the rainy season, it is neces-
sary to provide an all-weather roadway in the gate. The most
easily accessible material is usually limestone rock. Eight to
12 inches of this material on the area of heaviest traffic will pro-
vide access to pastures during the heaviest rainfall.
Figure 10.-Example of different kinds of gates that can be
^''...N -. .
"" I' .
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 29
Many cattle in the Everglades are watered from ditches.
This is a very easy method, since there are so many drainage
ditches available. However, this practice is definitely not recom-
mended. The flat, low, hot and moist conditions found on the
organic soils of south Florida are ideal for many parasites and
disease organisms. One of the main means of entrance of these
organisms into animals is the water the animals consume. Lung-
worm and stomachworm infestations in young cattle may be
greater where cattle have no other source of drinking water
than a ditch. Extreme phosphorus deficiencies have been ob-
served in beef cattle that drank from ditches. Cattle on organic
soils should not be watered from ditches or pools except in ex-
treme emergencies. Shallow wells (usually 18 to 20 feet in
depth) are economical, easy to install, and are used extensively
in the Everglades for furnishing water to cattle. In instances
where deep wells have been used, there have often been large
amounts of salts present, making the water unsuitable for con-
sumption and resulting in decreased mineral consumption.
Several methods of furnishing water to cattle have been sat-
isfactory. If electricity is easily available, electric pumps and
small storage tanks will provide a continuous water supply with
a minimum of daily supervision. Figure 11 shows individual
water cups that are very satisfactory where water is available
from a commercial source or storage tanks. These have been
used at the Experiment Station for many years and have proved
economical and dependable. When four pastures corner, it is
possible to have one well furnish water to all four pastures. A
small motor can be used satisfactorily to pump the troughs full.
It is necessary to match the number of animals in the pasture
with the capacity of water troughs. At least 10 gallons of water
should be provided daily for each animal in the pasture. If it
is not convenient to pump water daily, windmills can be used.
When windmills and open-type water troughs are used, it is de-
sirable to provide an overflow pipe that will channel excess water
into a ditch to prevent a mud hole from developing around the
trough. Also, a portable auxiliary motor and pump should be
available so that water can be pumped during times of no wind.
It is necessary to place water facilities on a rocked area of suffi-
cient size to allow cattle easy access to the water. The rock
fill should be 8 to 12 inches deep and free of boulders.
. .4 ;;-.. -, -:.. -
Figure 11.-Examples of equipment for watering cattle.
Figure -1Q~.-E.ample of,:~~ eqimn for waeig ate
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 31
There are many types of mineral boxes that have been satis-
factorily used in the Everglades. The main requirements are
that the mineral be protected from the weather, be situated near
the water supply, be low enough for calves to reach the mineral,
and be placed on a rocked surface to provide easy access by the
cattle during rainy weather.
This is another piece of equipment that should be located
near the water supply to be most effective in the control of ex-
ternal parasites. Many types are satisfactory. One that has
been used at the Everglades Station is home made, constructed
of posts, used dragline cable, barbed wire, and burlap bagging.
It is relatively cheap to construct but requires constant mainte-
nance to assure its proper functioning. Also many commercially
available back scratchers are satisfactory. It is important that
they can be used by cattle of various sizes. Quite often the oilers
may be too high for small cattle and therefore not so effective as
they would otherwise be.
Spray and Fogging Equipment
Some of the various types of insecticide application apparatus
are presented in Figure 12. If a fogging apparatus is desired,
one can be easily constructed (Figure 12a). The insecticide can
be placed in a suitable carrier (diesel oil, etc.) and allowed to
drip slowly into the exhaust manifold of a vehicle. The heat
of the exhaust manifold will vaporize the material and produce
a dense fog from the exhaust pipe. This procedure can be an
effective way of controlling mosquitoes in tall grass. A type of
commercial fogging machine is shown in Figure 12b.
Spray equipment generally has to be used for several pur-
poses, such as spraying pastures, ditches, and cattle. To be
satisfactory for cattle spraying, the equipment should have a
mechanical agitator or jet by-pass to keep materials in suspen-
sion. Also, the sprayer should have the necessary attachments
to modify it for spraying either pastures, ditches, or cattle. An
example of a general purpose spray unit is shown in Figure 12c.
This can be used for pastures, ditch banks, or cattle. An inex-
pensive type of cattle sprayer that works on a tractor power-
take-off is shown in Figure 12d.
32 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Figure 12,-Types of cattle spraying or fogging equipment.
a. A fogging machine operating on .an exhaust manifold.
b. A commercial fogging machine.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 33
_iu -e- .12 ( n
*\- ----- *
~c A. genra pups .s.--y "unit.. -
d O c s
n ., ; '
S.... ,, Il
112 eCI Ip. ,
Fiur 12.c~ (continued).
c. A general purpose spray unit.
d. A PTrO-driven cattle sprayer.
34 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
There is probably no other single piece of equipment that can
be as valuable to the cattleman as a good set of cattle scales.
They are necessary in all types of cattle operations:
1. Feedlot programs. Cattle in the feedlot should be weighed
at regular intervals to properly evaluate the feeding
2. Stocker or grass fattening programs. In many cases cat-
tle are sold directly off grass.
3. Cow-and-calf program. Cattlemen with the most suc-
cessful cow-and-calf programs in the Everglades improve
their herds by production testing. In order for their pro-
grams to be evaluated and improved it is necessary to
weigh each calf at weaning time.
Livestock scales should be located conveniently to corrals
and loading chute in order that they may be used routinely when
cattle are moved in or out of the ranch, or when desired to weigh
cattle that are being handled for other purposes.
There are many types of corrals that are satisfactory. Figure
13 shows a set of pens that has been used at the Everglades
Station and two other sets used at nearby ranches. While these
pens are of different basic design, they have several things in
common: namely, loading chute, scale, and facilities to sort and
individually treat cattle easily.
More detailed information is available concerning various
type of corrals (46, 57). Also, additional information can be
obtained from the Agricultural Engineering division of the
Agricultural Extension Service, University of Florida, Gaines-
ville. The primary factors to remember in constructing a corral
are as follows:
1. Provide an all-weather surface in pens.
2. Adjust capacity of pens to suit the size herds on the
ranch. Generally, the recommended maximum 80-acre
pasture will often limit the herd size to 100 to 125 cows
or 100 to 150 steers, depending on the size of animals and
grazing capacity of pasture. Since approximately 20
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 35
Figure 13.-Corral designs that have been used in the Everglades.
a. A set of pens at the Everglades Station.
b. A set of pens used on a commercial ranch.
c. Another design from a commercial ranch.
square feet of corral space are suggested for each animal
in the pens, a minimum of 2,000 square feet of pen is rec-
ommended to handle the animals from a single 80-acre
3. Construct pens strongly. Generally 2" x 6" or 2" x 8"
boards are recommended. The height of the corral fence
is usually 6 feet, but this can be lowered if cattle are
4. Provide facilities for working cattle (dehorning, brand-
5. Avoid blind corners where cattle will be hard to handle.
6. Use material that is most economical. Lumber should be
treated with a preservative for protection from the weath-
er. Untreated lumber will not last more than two to
Cattle Squeeze Chutes
It is possible to handle cattle individually without a cattle
squeeze chute, but it is often injurious to the cattle and danger-
ous to the people involved. If it is desired to treat animals in-
dividually (when branding, ear notching, vaccinating, castrating,
dehorning, pregnancy testing, etc.), it is safer and easier to
36 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
restrain the animal in a cattle squeeze. There are several kinds
available commercially. Plans are also available for construct-
ing a squeeze chute (56).
Due to the physical condition of the organic soils and the
high water table found in the Everglades, it is necessary to have
silos built above the ground surface. These can be of the bunk-
er, upright, or stack types. Examples of silos that have been
used at the Everglades Station are shown in Figure 14. The
primary requirements for permanent silos on organic soil are to
have satisfactory drainage for seepage and a firm all-weather
surface in and around the silos to prevent the formation of mud
holes. Self-feeding silos in pastures should be of temporary con-
struction and should be relocated each year unless all-weather
surfaces are provided for cattle to walk on.
Figure 14.-Four different types of silos that have been used
in the Everglades.
a. Permanent bunker silo. c. Plastic covered stack silo.
b. Upright, plastic silo. d. Concrete silo.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 37
... J' .'
-* ,~-. $ .. .
Figure 15.-Trees or plants that can be used for shade in Everglades
area. Top row: Australian pine, clammy cherry. Bottom row: jambolan
The economic value of shade has not been clearly determined
for beef cattle in south Florida. However, observations over the
past 20 years at the Everglades Station have shown that cattle
of European breeding are in considerable stress during hot
38 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
Figure 16.-Live oak with trunk protected by corrugated sheet iron.
weather as evidenced by increased and labored respiration. When
shade is provided, cattle of European breeding will perform
well, but they will stay in the comfort of the shade during the
hot part of the day, while Brahman or Brahman crossbred cat-
tle will graze with little regard for the sun. Work in other south-
ern states has indicated that shade is of value to cattle during
hot periods of the year.
One of the simplest ways of providing shade is with trees.
The tree should be relatively rapid growing, have luxuriant foli-
age, and be non-toxic to cattle. There are several kinds that
have proved satisfactory (Figure 15). These include the Aus-
tralian pine, clammy cherry, oak, jambolan plum, and mulberry
trees. Trees need protection (Figures 15 and 16), because cat-
tle will kill some trees by chewing the bark (Figure 17). If
too few trees are available in a pasture, cattle may congregate
under one or two to the extent that the area will become ex-
cessively boggy during the rainy season. It is suggested that
15 to 20 trees each planted 20 to 30 feet apart be used in an 80-
acre field in order to spread the cattle over a fairly large area.
Do not plant trees close to ditches or fences, as this will create
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 39
S '. : .
Figure 17.-Tree that has been killed (debarked) due to
fence maintenance problems. If tree rows are planted north to
south, the cattle will congregate on the side of the tree away
from the sun. It has been suggested that this will keep the
cattle from congregating in one spot all day and help prevent
the formation of bog holes.
Various types of artificial shade have been studied. These
included permanent and portable shade. The primary drawback
to these types of shade on organic soil is that, as previously men-
tioned, the physical characteristics of the soil are such that
large numbers of animals cannot be congregated in a small area
without creating a bog. If these types of shade are utilized, it is
essential to have a rocked area under them.
40 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
The primary purpose of beef cattle nutrition is to assist the
animal to economically reach its genetic potential of growth,
feed utilization and productivity. There are many factors affect-
ing the nutrition of beef cattle and these have been discussed
in detail (6, 47, 48, 49). However, there are certain factors
found on the organic soils of south Florida that are not experi-
enced in the rest of the southern portion of the state.
Supplemental Feeding Programs
The kind and amount of supplemental feed necessary for
cattle on pasture will be determined by the quantity and quality
of available pasture; the purpose for which the cattle are being
fed (i.e., maintenance, growth, fattening, gestation, or lacta-
tion) ; the relative price of cattle and feed; possibly envirbnmen-
tal conditions (temperature, solar radiation, etc.); and possibly
breed of cattle.
A minimum level of total digestible nutrients (TDN) and
digestible protein (DP) is needed to maintain an animal. The
maintenance requirement for both of these is fairly well related
to the size of the animal. Additional amounts of TDN and DP
must be furnished for the animal to gain weight, produce a
healthy calf, and provide adequate milk for the calf. It is neces-
sary to know the nutrients available from the forage and also
the nutritional requirements of the animal in order to deter-
mine the kind and amount of supplemental feed (if any) that
should be provided.
The average crude protein content of green, growing Rose-
lawn St. Augustine, para, pangola, or the bahia grasses grown
on organic soils is seldom below 10 percent, on an oven-dry basis.
The digestibility of the protein will vary slightly, but digest-
ibility studies have indicated these grasses to have approxi-
mately 60 percent of TDN during spring and summer. There
will be monthly variations in the amount of dry matter present
in these forages, but the average dry matter over a yearly
period will be about 25 percent. On the basis of these averages
it appears that on organic soils the average well fertilized pas-
ture, that is not overgrazed and not damaged by cold or excessive
water, will furnish adequate protein for beef cattle.
There will be times when the grass will not furnish adequate
TDN. One of the most vital exceptions will be for the cow dur-
ing the last two months of pregnancy and first 3 to 4 months
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 41
after calving. Also there will be temporary periods during the
year when the dry matter of the forage may decrease to 15 to
20 percent, and during these periods the grasses may not fur-
nish adequate TDN due to an inability of the cattle to consume
sufficient dry matter.
TABLE 3.-TOTAL DIGESTIBLE NUTRIENTS AND APPARENT DIGESTIBILITY OF
CRUDE PROTEIN FOR THREE MAJOR GRASSES USED IN THE EVERGLADES
Total Digestible Crude Protein
Grass and Date Nutrients Digestion Coefficient
Roselawn St. Augustine 65.6 71.2
Pangola 61.3 70.8
Para 59.9 72.4
Roselawn St. Augustine 61.1 64.3
Pangola 62.2 67.6
Para 57.2 72.6
Roselawn St. Augustine 56.6 51.6
Pangola 57.0 58.8
Para 59.7 64.1
Each figure represents an average of 6 animals.
t TDN and crude protein expressed on a dry matter basis.
What does all this mean to the commercial cattleman? It
means that generally, if the pasture on organic soil is well man-
aged, not suffering from cold or excess water, and growing to
some extent, supplemental feed should be relatively high in en-
ergy and does not need to exceed 10 to 12 percent crude protein.
High protein supplements will not be harmful to the animal and
will furnish some energy, but are usually more expensive than
energy supplements. The pasture supplement must provide the
nutrients not furnished by the forage.
As mentioned earlier, the carrying capacity of the pasture
forages decreases approximately 60 to 65 percent from the pe-
riod July through October to the period November through
February (1). If the commercial cattleman is not going to
penalize the production of his cattle (in weight gains and calf
crop), it will be necessary to adjust cattle inventory to the car-
rying capacity of the pastures or to provide supplemental feed
42 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
for the cattle during the winter months. If large cattle inven-
tories are maintained or if pastures are overgrazed or poorly
managed, there may be a temporary need for additional supple-
mental protein for cattle on organic soils. Each cattleman must
determine his own needs by careful assessment of all of these
factors. Further assistance may be obtained from county agents
or Experiment Station personnel.
One of the turning points in the Everglades cattle industry
was the discovery that cattle on organic soils required more cop-
per to remain in good health and perform properly than cattle
on sandy soils of the state. Prior to this discovery there had
been no permanently successful cattle enterprises on these soils.
Practical problems still face cattlemen on organic soils regarding
the kind of mineral mixture that should be fed.
From the nutritional standpoint, it makes little difference
whether a simple mineral mixture or a protein-mineral supple-
ment is used, as long as each contains satisfactory levels of es-
sential minerals. The amount of phosphorus, copper, iron, and
cobalt that a mineral mixture contains should be directly related
to the amount of mineral or protein-mineral supplement that is
to be fed. Cattle on organic soils should receive 1/8 gram of
copper per day. This can be furnished by feeding 1/2 gram of
copper sulfate (bluestone).
The result of studies with the so-called cobalt "bullet" in
south Florida have been reported (9). The benefit was not con-
sistent when the bullet was given to cattle that regularly con-
sumed adequate amounts of a mineral mixture containing 0.03
percent cobalt. However, in cobalt deficient areas of the state,
when cattle did not receive a daily intake of cobalt, the "bullet"
appeared to be of merit.
Locally Produced Supplemental Feeds
As mentioned earlier, good weather and lush pastures tend
to lull ranchers into a false sense of security regarding the real
need for preserving forage when it is in good supply or perhaps
oversupply. This is precisely the time during which steps should
be taken to preserve feed or to establish species that will endure
into periods of slow pasture growth caused by weather and cli-
mate. A variety of crops and numerous methods can be used to
insure a good supply of nutritious concentrate and roughage feed.
Each rancher should adopt the system that best fits his indi-
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 43
Supplemental feed production systems fall into six general
classes: (1) the growth of special crops such as corn, sorghum
and millet, and sugarcane, that can be fed as fresh chop directly
to the cattle; (2) the growth of crops for ensilage; (3) the
growth for supplemental pasture of cold-resistant plant species
such as oats, rye, or ryegrass with or without legumes, or le-
gumes alone; (4) interplanting the cold-resistant species into
permanent pastures; (5) ensiling excess warm season growth of
permanent pasture grasses; and (6) production of hay from per-
manent or temporary pasture forages.
Haymaking.-With present knowledge and equipment, it is
considered impractical to attempt to make hay in south Florida
because of frequent rain and high relative humidity. An ideal
substitute for haymaking would be a frost-resistant crop, with a
high yield of forage, that would recover well after grazing and
that would be resistant to disease and insect damage. Existing
varieties of oats, rye, bahiagrasses, and legumes fall short of
the ideal by being either too low-growing to furnish enough graz-
ing or susceptible to insects and diseases which limit the time
that they can be grazed.
Fresh Chop.-Another alternative would be a crop fitting the
specifications set forth above that could be harvested with a
chopper, put into wagons, and carried to cattle on dormant pas-
tures. This system would require a minimum of storage equip-
ment since no structures would be necessary to store the fresh
chopped material. Unneeded growth could be "stored" stand-
ing in the field. Varieties of semidwarf, frost-resistant forage
sugarcane hold promise of fulfilling these requirements in the
near future. Commercial varieties can be used, fed whole, or
chopped (5). These same crops might be ensiled (33).
Field Corn.-The results of 25 years of research with field
corn for snapped corn, ear corn, or shelling is outlined in Bulletin
582 (27). Corn should be considered a cash crop and treated
as such from seedbed preparation until the grain is safely stored.
Cuban varieties such as Corneli 54, Poey T-23, Poey T-46, Poey
T-62 and Poey T-66 have proved best for south Florida condi-
tions. Seed should be planted in well-prepared soil as soon as
the danger of frost is past. Rows averaging 3 feet apart with
plants 9 to 12 inches apart in the row have yielded best. Ferti-
lize according to recommendations based on chemical analyses
of soil samples. Water tables should be held to 24 to 30 inches
below the soil surface following emergence of the plants. Con-
44 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
trol of insects, weeds, and birds should be given special atten-
tion. Harvest the grain as soon as the moisture has dropped
below 25 percent. Dry and store in insect-proof structures.
Grain Sorghum.-A bulletin on grain sorghum and sorgo is
available (4). Cultural requirements for sorghum are very sim-
ilar to those for field corn. An advantage is that sorghum can
be planted over a greater period of the year than corn. The
varieties selected should have open heads so that the grain will
not mold, and the husks covering the grains should be awned
(bearded) to diminish damage to the grain by birds. The only
varieties recommended for south Florida plantings for grain are
Cuban Guinea Corn and Leoti Red or other bird-resistant va-
Forage Crops.-Field corn, grain sorghum, sorgo, sorgrass,
and millet can be used as sources for ensilage in south Florida.
Sorghum crops grown for forage have been more successful
than when grown for grain. Sorgo, sorgrass, and millet do
not make a large yield of grain, nor are the grains suitable for
cattle feed. A satisfactory yield of roughage feed is obtained
when sorghum plants are harvested in their entirety while in
the milk or soft dough stage of grain formation. A delay in
harvesting after this stage of growth results in the loss of the
leaves and could result in loss of the grain crop to the weather,
birds, or insects.
Several varieties of grain sorghum, sorgo, and millet can be
profitably grown for forage. All varieties of the genus Sorghum
(including grain sorghum, sorgo, sudangrass, Sorghum almum
(columbusgrass), and johnsongrass) should be allowed to head
before ensiling to reduce the danger from cyanide poisoning.
The highest yielding varieties include Wiley, Guinea corn, Leoti
Red, Sugar Drip, Kansas Orange, Honey, Sumac 1712, Sumac
6550, and Medium Dwarf Sumac. Georgia Hybrid (Gahi) 1
millet has consistently outyielded Starr millet by 50 percent.
The sorghums and millets require a shorter season and give
higher yields when planted in March and April, whereas field
corn does better when planted in mid-to-late February. For
maximum forage yields the best rotation seems to be field corn
followed by sorghum followed by ryegrass and oats. Corn would
occupy the field from mid-February until mid-June, sorghum
from late June until mid-September, and oats and ryegrass from
early October until early February.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 45
Corn, harvested in the soft dough stage, will yield about 9 tons
of dry matter per acre (10 percent moisture) with an average
protein content of 8.5 percent. Field corn plants 16 weeks old
when harvested have given a higher yield of forage than the
best varieties of grain sorghum, sorgo, and millet. Standard
forage harvesters are available with row crop attachments to
harvest these crops for fresh chops and silage. The merits
of corn silage are well known and need no justification; and,
like sorghum, corn needs no preservative to make satisfactory
silage. Sugarcane is good insurance against a shortage of rough-
age feed following cold weather. Commercial varieties must be
planted until shorter, leafier, smaller diameter forage type varie-
ties are released.
Blackstrap Molasses.-The value of blackstrap molasses for
brood cows has recently been presented (10, 18). Results, to
date, indicate that an average daily intake of 5 pounds per animal
of this material will increase weaning weight of calves and
weight and productivity of cows. There is also preliminary in-
formation to indicate there may be a variation in breed response
to the supplemental feeding of molasses. Brahman cattle on
pasture alone had a lower pregnancy diagnosis than those receiv-
ing the molasses. Differences within other breeds were not as
A great deal of information is available regarding the use
of blackstrap molasses in steer fattening rations. Generally, up
to 15 percent of molasses can be used in fattening rations with-
out causing adverse effects. When this level is exceeded, there
is often a decrease in feed intake, feed utilization, and weight
gain. In recent experiments (16, 19), blackstrap molasses was
compared to Everglades-produced ground snapped corn, citrus
pulp, and citrus molasses for fattening beef cattle on pasture.
The results of this study indicated that blackstrap molasses had
merit in a limited feeding program for steers on pasture if the
relative cost was favorable.
Vegetable By-products.-Recent tests at the Everglades Sta-
tion determined that dried tomato pulp (15) and dried celery
tops (30) were satisfactory ingredients for steer-fattening ra-
tions. Commercial application of this information has been
limited, due to unfavorable economics of production of the two
Pelleting of Roughages.-Pelleted feeds have definite merit
in beef cattle feeding but the economics of production will de-
46 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
termine how extensive the pelleting of beef cattle feeds will
become. The results of research to date have been reported
(22). Pelleted feeds will increase the intake of roughage, es-
pecially low quality roughage; will increase the digestion rate
but not the digestibility of these roughages; will allow more
complete and permanent mixing of roughage and concentrate
feeds; and apparently will lower the amount of concentrate feed
required by the animal. Pelleting of roughages may have spe-
cial application in the Everglades area, but engineering devel-
opments will be needed to make the pelleting of the forages eco-
The first steer-feeding trial at the Everglades Experiment
Station was reported in 1941 (43). Since then there have been
a number of publications concerning this practice (2, 3, 11, 12,
13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 30, 37, 38, 39, 49).
The results of steer-feeding work before 1956 showed that
fresh-cut sugarcane produced slightly higher gains than sugar-
cane silage; mature, fresh-cut, unstripped sugarcane was a sat-
isfactory pasture supplement if it could be fed economically
(43); ground shallu heads, citrus pulp, and dried sweetpotatoes
were comparable to ground snapped corn for fattening cattle on
pasture (37, 39); ramie meal, if rendered palatable by other
ration ingredients, was a satisfactory fattening feed and pro-
duced no objectionable meat flavors (38); although less palat-
able, cane molasses produced slightly higher gain than citrus
molasses when fed to steers on pasture (probably due to higher
dry matter content of the cane molasses); and slower but more
economical gains may be possible by supplementing good quality
pasture with molasses as compared to mixtures of concentrate
feeds (19, 40).
Most steer-feeding studies conducted since 1956 have centered
around the utilization of various feed additives, comparisons of
levels of supplemental feeds in drylot and on pasture, and com-
parisons of various breeds in feeding programs. The emphasis
during all of these steer-feeding studies has been on finding more
satisfactory methods of utilizing the abundant pasture forages
in steer-fattening programs.
Response of cattle to the different feed additives has varied.
Only two additives studied have consistently produced more
efficient gains. These are diethylstilbestrol, either orally admin-
istered or implanted, and reserpine. The latter has not yet been
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 47
cared for use in steer-fattening rations by the Food and Drug
Administration, so its use is currently restricted. Results to
date can be summarized as follows:
1. Diethylstilbestrol either orally (10 mg/animal/day) or im-
planted (24 mg) consistently increased rate of gain of steers
2. Similar results were often experienced on pasture, but the
response has been more variable.
3. Aureomycin (90 mg/animal/day) was not of economic ben-
efit when included in steer-fattening rations.
4. Aureomycin and/or diethylstilbestrol did not significantly
affect intransit shrink, cooler shrink, dressing percent, or
5. Response to the tranquilizer Trifluomeprazine (5 mg/ani-
mal/day) was not consistent.
6. Tapazole (600 mg/animal/day), when included in the fat-
tening ration for the last 63 days on feed, did not increase
rate of gain.
7. Reserpine (0.25, 0.50 and 1.0 mg/animal/day) increased
rate of gain of steers.
8. Responses to various enzyme preparations have not been
Generally, steers receiving a full feed of concentrate will per-
form better in drylot than on pasture. However, in the majority
of experiments the most profitable program was that of feed-
ing 6 pounds a day of a concentrate feed (comprised of ground
snapped corn, dried citrus pulp, and cottonseed meal) on good
Roselawn St. Augustine pasture. The condition of the pasture
will cause variations; but this amount of feed will allow good
pasture utilization, increase carcass grade, and provide 2/3 pound
more gain per day than grass alone.
Pasture feeding of steers has certain advantages: roughage
does not have to be preserved or purchased, less labor is needed
in caring for the animals, and probably less overhead will be
experienced. This will vary among cattlemen. A pasture feeding
program requires good quality pastures and extra fertilization.
Weed control, mowing, and other expenses may be necessary.
48 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
In addition, there may be some complaint from meat packers
concerning yellow fat in carcasses.
Experiments conducted during two different years indicate
that breed of steers may affect returns. As mentioned earlier
Santa Gertrudis and Charbray breeds of steers showed the high-
est rate of gain and return on the pasture feeding program and
English type steers the highest gain and return in dry lot (20).
Summary of Recommended Feeding Practices
As mentioned earlier and as shown in Figure 18, a cow-and-
calf program should utilize animals of such quality that the
weaned calves will be of sufficient quality to be used as stockers,
used as feeders, sold as fat slaughter calves, or, sold for breeding
purposes. This should be the goal of the cattleman who desires
the maximum flexibility in his program.
Herd Replacements.-Heifers that are kept for herd replace-
ments should have a minimum of 1.0 pound of daily gain. This
growth should be continuous and uninterrupted. This rate of
gain is easily obtained on organic soil pastures of adequate qual-
ity and quantity. Such pastures usually occur during the months
of April through October. Supplemental feed requirements dur-
ing the months of November through March are directly re-
lated to pasture adequacy, but 3 to 5 pounds of a high energy
feed per head will usually be necessary during December, Janu-
ary, and February if this rate of gain is to be maintained.
Bull Calves.-If bull calves are raised for breeding purposes,
they should be kept on excellent pasture and fed 1 percent of
their body weight of a concentrate feed composed of 40 percent
ground snapped corn, 40 percent dried citrus pulp and 20 per-
cent 41 percent cottonseed meal, or similar ingredients, until
they are two years of age. Young bulls should not be allowed to
become too fat. They should have finish not to exceed that neces-
sary for U. S. Good slaughter grade. Bulls that are fed in this
manner will eat large quantities of roughage but will also receive
sufficient energy to utilize roughage to the optimum. Substitutes
can be used for the suggested ration ingredients as long as they
contain similar amounts of TDN, digestible protein, and fiber.
Stocker Animals.-Two types of animals, weanling calves
and yearlings, may be included in a stocker operation; but the
goal with each type should be the production of a 900 to 1,000-
pound slaughter animal.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 49
Cow-and-calf Feeder and
Heifers Steers steers or
50 percent kept for 50 percent used Used for Used for
breeding herd for stickers, stockers,
replacements stockers, feeders, Tfeeders
feeders, slaughter calves
sold for breeding
Figure 18.-Summary of the relation of cow-and-calf, stocker,
and feeder program.
Weanling calves that are to be used in a stocker operation
should have a minimum weight of 350 to 450 pounds at 7 to 8
months of age. This type animal is available in August and
September in relatively large numbers. They can be carried on
pasture with a continuous minimum daily gain of 1.0 pound for
6 to 8 months, after which it should be ready for one of four
1. Carried on good pasture with a minimum of 1.50 to 1.75
pounds of gain per day (requires 5 to 6 pounds of a high-
energy feed) for 90 days followed by a full intake of con-
centrates for 60 days.
2. Carried on pasture for 6 months with a minimum of 1.75
pounds of daily gain.
3. Placed in feed lot on full feed for 120 to 150 days.
4. Carried on pasture with continuous gain of 1.0 pound a
day for 10 to 12 months.
50 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
The relative price of feed and cattle, the amount of available
labor and equipment, quality of available forage, and quality of
cattle will all affect the type of management program to use for
stocker cattle. If the quality of the cattle is below average, or
if they contain more than 50 percent Brahman blood, it would
be better to place major emphasis on a pasture program and feed
not over 3 to 5 pounds of feed per animal daily. This type animal
is capable of making very economical gains on pasture but can-
not efficiently utilize large quantities of concentrate feeds.
Yearling steers that weigh 600 to 700 pounds may be pas-
tured to gain 1.25 to 1.50 pounds per day for 150 to 180 days
and then sold; they may be pastured to gain 1.0 to 1.25 pounds
daily for 90 to 120 days and then full fed on pasture or in the
feed lot for approximately 60 days; they can be placed directly
on a full feed of concentrate; or they can be carried on pasture
only. The feeding recommendations concerning breeds of cattle
apply to all stocker and feeders regardless of age.
1. Allen, R. J., Jr. Summarization of grazing trial experiments. Ever-
glades Station Mimeo 57-11. 1957.
2. Beardsley, D. S. Limited vs. full feed of concentrates for fattening
steers on pasture and silage. Everglades Station Mimeo 55-7. 1955.
3. Beardsley, D. S., and R. W. Kidder. Limited vs. full feed of concen-
trates for fattening steers on St. Augustine pasture and silage. Ever-
glades Station Mimeo 56-3. 1955.
4. Boyd, F. T., V. E. Green, Jr., and H. L. Chapman, Jr. Production of
sorghum forage and grain as feed for dairy and beef cattle in south
Florida. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 628. 1960.
5. Bregger, T., and R. W. Kidder. Growing sugarcane for forage. Fla.
Agr. Exp. Sta. Cir. S-117. 1959.
6. Brody, Samuel. Bioenergetics and growth. Reinhold Publishing Corp.,
New York. 1945.
7. Brogden, J. E. Pasture insect control. Extension Entomology Mimeo
8. Brogden, J. E., and L. E. Swanson. Control of external parasites of
livestock in Florida. Extension Entomology Mimeo 19. 1962.
9. Chapman, H. L., Jr. Results of field tests with the cattle cobalt "bul-
let". Everglades Station Mimeo 61-4. 1960.
10. Chapman, H. L., Jr., J. R. Crockett, A. C. Warnick, and R. W. Kidder.
Progress report on the value of blackstrap molasses for beef cows,
1960-61. Everglades Station Mimeo 62-10. 1961.
11. Chapman, H. L., Jr., and C. E. Haines. A preliminary report on the
value of reserpine in fattening rations for beef steers on pasture. Ever-
glades Station Mimeo 60-14. 1960.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 51
12. -. A preliminary report on the value of Zymo
pabst in fattening rations fed to steers on pasture. Everglades Station
Mimeo 60-15. 1960.
13. The value of different levels of reserpine for
steers fattened on pasture. Everglades Station Mimeo 61-20. 1961.
14. Chapman, H. L., Jr., C. E. Haines, and J. R. Crockett. Diethylstil-
bestrol, hydroxyzine implants, tapazole and trifluomeprazine in steer
fattening rations. Everglades Station Mimeo 59-17. 1959.
15. Chapman, H. L., Jr., C. E. Haines, J. R. Crockett, and R. W. Kidder.
Dried tomato pulp for fattening steers on pasture. Everglades Station
Mimeo 59-3. 1958.
16. Chapman, H. L., Jr., C. E. Haines, and R. W. Kidder. Feeding value
of limited fed mixed feed, citrus pulp, ground snapped corn, and black-
strap molasses for fattening steers on pasture. Everglades Station
Mimeo 61-19. 1961.
17. Feeding value of various enzymes preparations
for cattle being fattened on pasture. Everglades Station Mimeo 61-21.
18. Chapman, H. L., Jr., and R. W. Kidder. Progress report on the value
of blackstrap molasses for beef cows. Everglades Station Mimeo 61-5.
19. Chapman, H. L., Jr., R. W. Kidder, and S. B. Plank. Comparative feed-
ing value of citrus molasses, cane molasses, ground snapped corn, and
dried citrus pulp for fattening steers on pasture. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta.
Bul. 531. 1953.
20. Chapman, H. L., Jr., A. Z. Palmer, J. R. Crockett, and J. W. Carpenter.
Performance of cattle of British and Brahman breeding when fattened
in drylot and on pasture. Everglades Station Mimeo 61-16. 1961.
21. Clayton, B. S., J. R. Neller, and R. V. Allison. Water control in the
peat and muck soils of the Florida Everglades. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta.
Bul. 378. 1942.
22. Cunha, T. J. Pelleting feeds for beef cattle. The Florida Cattleman:
86. March 1961.
23. Cunha, T. J., M. Koger, and A. C. Warnick. Crossbreeding beef cattle.
University of Florida Press, 1963.
24. Damon, R. A., S. E. McCraine, R. M. Crown, and C. B. Singleton. Per-
formance of crossbred beef cattle in the Gulf Coast region. J. Animal
Sci. 18: 1: 437. 1959.
25. Dennis, W. R., L. E. Swanson, W. M. Stone. Experimental feeding of
low level phenothiazine to Florida cattle. Vet. Med. 50: 9: 379. 1955.
26. Genung, W. G. Pasture and livestock insects and their control. Ever-
glades Station Mimeo 55-8. 1955.
27. Green, Victor E., Jr., W. T. Forsee, Jr., W. H. Thames, Jr., and F. T.
Boyd. Field corn production in south Florida. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul.
28. Haines, C. E., and R. J. Allen, Jr. Grazing trial results for one
year (1959-60). Everglades Station Mimeo 61-11. 1961.
29. Haines, C. E., and H. L. Chapman, Jr. Results of grazing experiments
with yearling calves on four major pasture grasses of the Everglades
for one year. Everglades Station Mimeo 60-16. 1960.
52 Florida Agricultural Experiment Stations
30. Haines, C. E., H. L. Chapman, Jr., and R. W. Kidder. The feeding
value and digestibility of dried celery tops for steers. Everglades
Station Mimeo 59-13. 1959.
31. Harris, E. D., Jr., W. G. Genung, and H. L. Chapman, Jr. Comparison
of two systemic insecticides and dates of application for cattle grub
control in the Everglades. J. Econ. Entomol. 523: 425-428. 1959.
32. Harrison, D. S. Pumping for drainage and irrigation. Fla. Agr. Exp.
Sta. Ann. Rpt.: 278. 1958.
33. Harrison, D. S., and R. J. Allen, Jr. Harvesting grass silage in the
Everglades. Soil and Crop Sci. Soc. of Fla. 16: 314-320. 1956.
34. Harrison, D. S., H. A. Weaver, and W. H. Speir. Design and mainte-
nance of water control facilities for agriculture. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta.
Ann. Rpt.: 274. 1959.
35. Hill, H. E. Personal communication. 1961.
36. Jones, Lewis A. Soils, geology, and water control in the Everglades
region. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 442. 1948.
37. Kidder, R. W. Fattening steers on winter pasture. Fla. Agr. Exp.
Sta. Bul. 391. 1943.
38. The use of ramie leaf meal in steer fattening
rations. Everglades Station Mimeo 10. 1948.
39. Fattening steers on Everglades winter pasture.
Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 456. 1949.
40. Kidder, R. W., and D. W. Beardsley. Protein and carbohydrate supple-
ments for fattening steers on Everglades pastures. Fla. Agr. Exp.
Sta. Bul. 493. 1952.
41. Kidder, R. W., D. W. Beardsley, and T. C. Erwin. Photosensitization
in cattle grazing frosted bermudagrass. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 630.
42. Kidder, R. W., and H. L. Chapman, Jr. A preliminary report of weight
performance of crossbred and purebred cattle at the Everglades Sta-
tion. Proc. Assoc. So. Agr. Workers. 1952.
43. Kidder, R. W., and W. G. Kirk. Cattle feeding in southern Florida.
Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 360. 1941.
44. Kidder, R. W., M. Koger, J. W. Meade and J. R. Crockett. Systems of
crossbreeding for beef production. In process of publication. 1963.
45. Kidder, R. W., John Liddon, H. V. Clum, and M. Koger. Growth re-
sponse of Angus, Brahman, and Devon cattle and various crosses of
these breeds in the subtropical climate of the Florida Everglades. J.
Animal Sci. 15: 4: 1209. 1956.
46. Lewis, L. H., T. J. Cunha, and G. N. Rhodes. Beef cattle in Florida.
Fla. Dept. Agr. Bul. 28. 1960.
47. Maynard, L. A., and J. K. Loosli. Animal nutrition, 4th edition. Mc-
Graw-Hill Book Company, Inc., New York. 1956.
48. Morrison, F. B. Feeds and feeding. 22nd edition. The Morrison Pub-
lishing Company, Ithaca, New York. 1956.
49. National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council. Nutrient
requirements of domestic animals. IV. Nutrient requirements of beef
cattle. Natl. Acad. Sci. Natl. Research Council Pub. 579. Revised 1958.
50. Orsenigo, J. R. Chemical weed control suggestions for the Everglades
cattleman. Everglades Station Mimeo 61-3: 5-6. 1960.
Cattle Production on Organic Soils of South Florida 53
51. Peacock, F. M., W. G. Kirk, E. M. Hodges, W. L. Reynolds, and M.
Koger. Genetic and environmental influences on weaning weight and
slaughter grade of Brahman, Shorthorn and Brahman X Shorthorn
calves. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 624. 1960.
52. Stephens, J. C., A. L. Craig, and W. H. Speir. Tests of low-head, high
volume farm pumps. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 565. 1955.
53. Swift, R. W. The calorie value of TDN. J. Animal Sci. 16: 4: 753-
54. Swanson, L. E. Personal communication. 1960.
55. Swanson, L. E., E. G. Batte, and W. R. Dennis. Liver fluke disease
and its control. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 502. 1952.
56. U. S. Department of Agriculture. USDA Misc. Publ. 763. 1958.
57. U. S. Department of Agriculture. Six corrals for beef cattle. USDA
Misc. Publ. 776. 1958.
58. Warnick, A. C., J. H. Meade, Jr., and M. Koger. Factors influencing
pregnancy rate in Florida beef cattle. Fla. Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 623.
59. West, E., and M. W. Emmel. Plants that poison farm animals. Fla.
Agr. Exp. Sta. Bul. 510A. 1960.
The authors wish to acknowledge the assistance of Edward
King, Jr., J. V. McLeod, Tom Swager, L. V. Morris, J. W. Beards-
ley, George Young, J. R. Crockett, Virginia Larrick, and others
who have assisted in the compilation or editing of this bulletin.