PRESS BULLETIN No. 79. January 22, 1908.
Florida Agricullural Experiment Stallon.
IMPROVEMENT OF CATTLE IN FLORIDA.
BY JOHN M. SCOTT.
The report of the Commissioner of Agriculture (Hon. B. E. McLin),
gives as the total number of oxen and stock cattle in Florida on July 1,
1905, 708,078, and these cattle were valued at $4,789,187, which is a little
over $7 a head. The same report states the number of pure-bred and
grade cattle as follows: Herefords, 338 Shorthorns, 366; Devors, 88; Aber-
deen-Angus, 12;, making a total of 804, and valued at $27,519, averaging a
little over $34 a head. These figures do not include cows kept for milk,
and so the dairy breeds are not reckoned in.
GAIN BY GRADING-UP CATTLE.
A native three-year-old steer off grass weighs about 500 pounds, and
would yield about 240 pounds of dressed meat worth 6 cents a pound, mak-
ing its value $14.40. A grade three-year-old steer weighs about 800 pounds
and would dress 450 pounds, which at 6 cents a pound is worth $27.00.
Thus there is a difference in value of about $12.60 per head in favor of
grade cattle at the present local market price of meat. If we take the'Eas-
tern market for a guide we find that the grade steer commands at least one
cent a pound more than the native. At the price then of 7 cents per
pound, a three-year-old grade steer will sell for more than double the sum
that a native would fetch.
COST OF MAINTAINING.
The grade herd will perhaps cost 25 per cent. more to keep than the
native herd, for a range that would support 100 head of native cattle can
only support about 75 head of grade cattle. This is due to the grade being
a larger animal, and hence requiring more food for maintaining and build-
ing up its body, just as a large horse requires more food than a pony.
That it costs more to raise a grade steer is no argument in favor of
the native. There is a profit at the present time in keeping the native, but
there is a larger profit in the grade. After deducting 25 per cent. for the
greater cost of keeping, the value of the grade is still nearly double that
of the native.
NEED OF BETTER CATTLE.
One of the best reasons for improving our cattle is that we might thus
be enabled to produce enough beef to fully supply our home demand. By
home demand we mean the beef consumed within the State of Florida. As
already stated the grade steer produces nearly double as many pounds of
beef, and beef of a better quality than does the native. If Florida produced
all its own meat itself, this would mean the keeping at home of several
hundred thousands of dollars each year, which would then be paid over
to the stock farmers of the State.
IMPROVED BLOOD INCREASES MEAT YIELD.
The native cows or steers resemble animals of the dairy breeds with re-
gard to beef production. They lacK the width and thickness of loin, the
round full quarter, and the thick, well-covered rib, all of which are so
characteristic of animals bred for beef. The beef steer makes its in-
crease in weight in these parts that are valuable for meat. The frame of
the native is small and narrow, and though when it is fattened it makes a
good gain in weight, yet the gain is made in those parts of the body that
are of little food value, as the fat around the kidneys and viscera. The
animal that makes the gain in weight in the valuable cuts, such as the loin,
quarter, and rib, is naturally the most profitable.
/ GRADING-UP NOT DIFFICULT.
The improvement of cattle by grading-up is not difficult. The one im-
portant point is the selection of a good sire. The sire should be a pure-
bred animal of one of the beef breeds and not produced from a cross or
mixture of breeds.
The usual objection is the cost of a pure-bred sire. This may be
$100 or $150. True, this does seem a great price to one who is accustomed
to purchase a native bull for $25.
SIf a farmer has a herd of fifty cows the increased value of the first lot
of calves would more than pay for the pure-bred sire. Suppose that the
first lot of calves from the pure-bred sire number thirty. At the end of
three years the gain in selling price over native stock would be more
than $300, or twice the cost of the sire. This leaves out of considera-
tion the younger calves, and supposes that all are sold for beef, while in
reality the heifers would be retained to improve the herd.
State papers please copy.