PRESS BULLETIN 191 Mdy 11, 1912
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
AGRICULTURAL EXPERIMENT STATION
NATIVE CATTLE SMALL FROM LACK OF FEED
By John M. Scott
It is the opinion of some that the small size of our native Florida
cattle is due to our climatic conditions. This opinion, however, will hardly
stand investigation. For large breeds of cattle live in the tropics, as in
Another opinion is that the small size is due to lack of proper selec-
tion in breeding. Breeding no doubt has its influence, but we find that
even when our best-bred animals are reared under the same conditions as
our native cattle, they too are very small. We must therefore look to some
other cause than climate or lack of breeding for the small size of our native
stock. In-breeding and breeding at a young age, both of which are sure
to occur on the open range, may have some influence in reducing size. The
small size is found, however, to be due largely, if not entirely, to the want
of nutritious forage during the winter and spring.
In a slaughter test of twenty head of native cattle, the average dressed
weight was found to be 280.6 pounds.. These animals were three years old
and over. They were about mature so far as size is concerned. These cattle
were slaughtered during the latter part of September, and their light weight
was not due to lack of flesh, as the animals were in good condition. The
lack of size was due to the animals not having been supplied constantly
with a sufficient amount of nutritious feed. They should have been kept
in a healthy growing condition from the time they were weaned until they
were ready for the market.
At the Experiment Station farm, during the spring of 1908, a number
of native cows were bred to a native bull. The calves'from these cows were
dropped during, the spring of 1909. At weaning time (October 28, 1909).
these calves averaged 305 pounds per head. At one year of age they aver-
-aged 447.5 pounds per head. This is almost as heavy as many of our range
cattle are at three years of age. On October 1, 1911, when these calves
were about two and a half years of age, they averaged 722.5 pounds per
head. They were given no better care and feed than the average farmer
could readily, supply. The summer pasture was similar to the ordinary pine-
woods pasture. During the winters they were given the run of a velvet-bean
and Japanese cane field. This supply of winter forage kept the animals
in a growing condition so that they did not become stunted.
Thus the small size of our native cattle is not due to heredity, but
largely to the lack of feed. We do not mean that the animals must be kept
fat enough for market at all times, but we do mean that they should be
kept in a healthy growing condition. When an animal beconies so emaciated
that it can hardly get up when it lies down, it is certainly not in a healthy
condition.' Neither is it in a condition to grow and develop, but rather all
development will be stopped. When the development of a young animal is
once stopped or checked, the animal will never make the growth that it
would otherwise have done.
It is now the time of year when we should give some thought to growing
supplies of feed for our cattle during the coming winter. An abundance of
good forage can be had by planting such crops as sorghum, German millet,
and later in the season, cowpeas.
State papers please copy.