PRESENT STATUS AND FUTURE OF CATTLE INDUSTRY-.N -FLORIDA- ........
T. J. Cunha, Chairman*
Animal Science Department Au5 U I 0 J
University of Florida
The beef cattle industry in Florida has been grow aLg-rip4-d4l-y-r- --hgr wtf ,
however, is only in the beginning stages of what its future potential can be. To
give an idea of this growth, following are some figures which show the increase in
numbers and quality of Florida cattle since 1929.
TABLE I. INCREASE IN CATTLE NUMBERS IN FLORIDA
Year Number of Cattle
/ 1949 926,000
1975 2,124,000 (DARE Prediction)
The figures in table show over a four-fold increase in beef cattle numbers
since 1929. The DARE Committee has predicted that beef numbers will increase to
2,124,000 by 1975. This is a reasonable prediction in view of past increases in
numbers. It means a 32% increase in numbers or about a 3% yearly increase from
1965 to 1975.
Table 2 shows the increase in beef produced in Florida since 1929.
A review of the University of Florida Beef Cattle DARE Committee report
brought up to date for presentation at Manatee County Cattleman's Day,
October 26, 1965.
TABLE 2. POUNDS OF BEEF PRODUCED IN FLORIDA
Year Pounds of Beef
1975 700,000,000 (DARE Prediction)
The figures show that beef production in Florida has increased about 900%
since 1929. The DARE Committee has estimated about a 75% increase between 1964
and 1975. This seems reasonable in view of past increases in beef production.
TABLE 3. VALUE OF CATTLE
Year In Florida In U.S.A. Percentage value of
Florida cattle as
compared to U.S. cattle
1929 23.40 58.47 40
1939 20.50 38.44 53
1949 74.20 135.00 55
1959 106.00 153.00 69
1965 92.00 114.00 81
The figures in table 3 show that there has been great progress in the increase
in quality of cattle in Florida since 1929. Florida cattle have increased almost
four-fold in value. Moreover, they have increased from 40% to 81% the value of
U.S. cattle. However, there is still much room for improvement since Florida
cattle are below the national average in value and our goal should be to exceed
this value as soon as possible. The biggest emphasis in the future needs to be on
continually improving the quality of Florida cattle. This will result in the pro-
duction of more pounds of better quality beef per acre which is a must for Florida
in the future.
Table 4 shows the tremendous increase which has occurred in income from the
sale of beef in Florida.
TABLE 4. INCOME FROM SALES OF FLORIDA CATTLE AND CALVES
1929 $ 3,560,000
1975 133,000,000 (DARE Prediction)*
The figures in table 4 show about a 20 fold increase in beef cattle sales since
!929. This is indicative of the increase in weight and quality of Florida cattle.
Income from beef cattle sold on the farm will about double by 1975.
TABLE 5. PERCENTAGE OF FEEDER-STOCKER CATTLE SOLD IN FLORIDA
LIVESTOCK AUCTION MARKETS SINCE 1951
Grade 1951 1955 1960 1962
Fancy ---- --- ---- .2
Choice --- --- 3.0 2.2
Good 1.3 0.7 14.4 21.4
Medium 7.1 8.4 34.6 45.0
Common 31.1 47.0 33.6 25.0
Inferior 60.5 43.9 14.5 6.2
The data in table 5 show the great increase which has occurred in the quality
of feeder-stocker cattle sold at auction markets in Florida since 1951. It must be
realized, however, that a large number of feeder-stocker cattle are also sold by
private treaty through direct sales. The quality of all these cattle is usually
higher than that of those sold through the auction markets. While the figures
* Based on the value of 1960 dollars.
shown in table 5 are very encouraging in showing the increase in quality occurring
in Florida cattle, they also indicate that we have a long way to go to produce more
feeder-stocker cattle in the good and choice grades for which we have a very good
demand for our own feedlots in Florida. Last year feedlot operators purchased
about 55,000 head of feeder steers out-of-state to be fed in Florida. There is
no reason why we cannot produce these steers in Florida instead of having to go out
of state to buy them.
Last year Florida shipped out-of-state over 200,000 head of lightweight calves
weighing from 225 to 250 pounds. These calves went primarily to the Southwestern
states with some of them going to the Midwest. Florida is not producing all of
the feeder calves it needs for its own feedlots. This means that Florida needs to
concentrate on increasing the quality and weight of its calves so that it will pro-
duce more 400 to 600 pound calves and less of the lightweight 225 to 250 pound
calves. Then it can eliminate going out-of-state to purchase feeder calves and can
have more available for feedlot fattening in Florida.
The use of higher quality bulls, better management practices and better improved
pastures will easily make it possible for Florida to increase the weight and quality
of its feeder calves. This has been happening steadily and should continue in the
TABLE 6. PERCENTAGE OF BEEF PRODUCED IN FLORIDA.
1940 1950 1960 1963 1975
Florida beef production as
percent of Florida consumption 33.8 58.1 36.9 36.8 41.9
Florida beef production as
percent of U.S. consumption 0.48 1.06 1.01 1.08 1.43
Even with the rapid growth which has occurred in the beef cattle industry in
Florida we produced only 36.8% of the beef consumed in the state in 1963. With
the expected 85% increase in beef production in Florida between 1963 and 1975 we
still will be producing only 41.9% of Florida's beef consumption (Table 6). This
is assuming that all beef produced in Florida is consumed in Florida. Actually,
Florida produces more of the low quality beef than it consumes and less of the
higher quality beef it consumes. It is estimated that presently Florida produces
only about 20% of the beef grading standard and above which it consumes. Thus,
Florida is shipping in about 80% of the high quality beef consumed in the state.
Even if Florida increases beef production to 700,000,000 pounds by 1975 it will
still be producing only about 20% of the high quality beef consumed in the state.
This is because the human population will increase almost two thirds and per capital
beef consumption will increase about 13% by 1975.
The data in table 6 show that Florida produced only 1.08% of the beef con-
sumed in the U.S. in 1963. If Florida almost doubles its beef production between
1963 and 1975 it will only be producing 1.43% of the beef consumed in the U.S.
These figures indicate that Florida can increase its beef production many times
without having much affect on the total beef supply or its price in the U.S. Thus,
Florida has a splendid opportunity to increase its beef output as a means of pro-
ducing more of the beef it consumes. Even by 1975 Florida will still need to ship
in 184 million dollars worth of beef to meet its needs (table 7). Since there is
plenty of room for expansion of the beef cattle industry in Florida there is plenty
of opportunity for cattlemen in Florida to produce more of the 184 million dollars
worth of beef which will be shipped into the state in 1975. So long as Florida is
a beef deficit area, Florida cattlemen should receive the national price level for
beef, plus the freight for shipping beef from outside the state to Florida. This
is an important advantage which cattlemen have in Florida and which should help
stimulate the growth of the beef cattle industry in the future.
Table 7 gives information on the beef needs in Florida by 1975. Florida will
be producing 700 million pounds of beef then, but will still need an additional
972 million pounds to supply the beef consumption needs of its population. Per
capital consumption of carcass beef in 1964 was 100 pounds per person. It is esti-
mated that this will increase to 113 pounds by 1975 (table 7).
TABLE 7. FLORIDA BEEF CONSUMPTION AND NEEDS
1940 1950 1960 1963 1975
U.S. per capital beef con-
sumption, lb. 114 129 165 170* 204*
Beef consumed in Florida,
million pounds 216 356 815 929 1672
Beef produced in Florida,
million pounds 73 207 301 379 700
Deficit of production from needs,
million pounds 143 149 514 550 972
Value of beef shipped into Florida
to meet needs, million dollars 7 30 92 120 184
* The 170 and 204 are pounds of liveweight beef and are equivalent to 95 and
113 pounds of carcass beef, respectively.
By 1975, Florida will be consuming 1,672,000,000 pounds of beef worth
$317,000,000. It will produce 700 million pounds worth 133 million dollars and
will import 972 million pounds of beef worth 184 million dollars. Part of the
beef produced in Florida will come from dairy cattle, as is shown in table 8. Pre-
sently, 82% of the beef produced comes from beef cattle. This will increase to 90%
in 1975 and only 10% of the beef will come from dairy cattle (table 8).
TABLE 8. DISTRIBUTION OF BEEF FROM BEEF AND DAIRY CATTLE
Million Ibs. j Million Ibs.
Beef from beef cattle 281 82 628 90
Beef from dairy cows 50 15 56 8
Beef from dairy calves 10 3 16 2
341 100 700 100
Reduced rail freight rates now make it possible to bring in Midwest corn to
north Florida for $5 to $6 per ton. Since it takes about 1500 to 2000 pounds of
corn to fatten a steer this means that for $4 to $6 one can ship in the corn needed
to fatten a steer in Florida. This cost of shipping in the corn should be more than
made up by the extra return one should obtain for fattened steers in Florida. If
one markets these cattle correctly he should obtain the national price level plus
the freight for shipping in the beef carcasses from other areas to Florida. This
freight rate amounts to about $1.50 to $2.00 per 100 pounds of carcass depending on
where it is shipped from. A 1000 pound steer has about a 600 pound carcass. The
freight for shipping in the carcass would be from $9 to $12. This should more than
pay for the cost of bringing in the corn to Florida for fattening steers here.
It should also be mentioned that corn is being barged into Tampa for about $6
per ton. It is also being brought into Florida by trucks on back-hauls for about
$6 per ton. Thus, there are a number of ways to ship corn into Florida at reasonable
Not only can corn be brought into Florida but corn production can also be in-
creased in the state. Corn yields in Florida in 1963 were 38 bushels per acre.
Russell Henderson, University of Florida Extension Agronomist, estimates that this
yield can easily be increased to 55 bushels per acre by 1970 or earlier by the use
of better production practices. This increased production on present corn acreage
would yield an additional 8 million bushels of corn. This is enough to fatten
320,000 head of steers. Thus, corn for fattening steers should not restrict ex-
pansion of steer feeding in Florida since more of it can be produced in the state
and more of it can be shipped in at reasonable rates. Moreover, a great deal of
corn is actually being shipped out of many localities in north and northwest Florida
to other states north of Florida especially to Georgia.
Following are six advantages which Florida has for the expansion of its steer
feeding industry in the future:
1. It has a large market for beef which is rapidly expanding. It is now
shipping in 80% of the high quality beef (grading standard and above) which it
consumes. Moreover, its human population is increasing at the rate of about
250,000 yearly which makes it one of the most rapidly growing states in the nation,
At the present beef consumption rate, we are increasing our needs for beef in
Florida by 25,000,000 additional pounds each year. It takes 41,666 steers weighing
about 1,000 pounds to supply this amount of additional beef needed each year.
2. Florida already is one of the important beef cattle states in the nation.
It is now ranked 16th in the U.S. in beef cattle numbers and third east of he
Mississippi river. Moreover, it is just in the beginning stages of develop ing the
size and quality of the beef cattle industry it will eventually have.
3. The Florida cattle industry will expand greatly because presently only
about 1,900,000 acres of its land is in improved pastures. Moreover, much of this
improved pasture is not being fertilized and managed properly. There are also an
additional 5 to 6 million acres which can go into improved pastures. Anyone who
travels extensively throughout Florida can readily see the many large areas which
are available for putting in improved pastures.
4. Florida is only producing about 50 pounds of beef per acre. Many cattle-
men are already producing 200 to 500 pounds of beef per acre. This indicates that
Florida has the potential to increase its beef production 4 to 10 times if it
increases production to the level which its top cattle producers are already ob-
5. Florida already produces much feed such as pasture, corn, citrus molasses-
citrus pulp and blackstrap molasses for feeding steers. Moreover, it has the poten-
tial for increasing the production of these and other feeds in the future. Further-
more, corn can now be shipped in at a reasonable rate from the Midwest.
6. Florida can excel in pasture production because of its mild climate and
availability of water in many areas. Thus, Florida has much undeveloped potential
for fattening steers or conditioning young calves for the feed lot by using pasture
as a large part of the ration with only a minimum amount of concentrates being fed.
Thus, Florida has all the ingredients necessary for developing a much larger
beef cattle and steer feeding industry in the future. The opportunities are avail-
able for those with know-how, facilities and the necessary financing. It is hoped
that these opportunities will not go unheeded.
In predicting that Florida will increase its beef production from 379 million
pounds in 1963 to 700 million pounds in 1975 we are making the following assumptions'
1. Our calf crop is now 75% and we feel it should increase to at least 80%
by 1975. An 80% calf crop will still be below the present national average of
about 85%. We need to reach 85% and then surpass it as soon as possible.
2. Beef cow numbers will increase from 821,000 head in 1963 to 944,000 head
in 1975. This will be a 15% increase in cow numbers. This increase in beef cow
numbers will result in a total beef cattle population increase from 1,449,000 in
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1953 to 2,124,000 in 1975. This will be a 46% increase in total numbers of beef
3. At the present time, about 150,000 head of steers are being fed out in
Florida. It is estimated that this number will increase to 300,000 head by 1975.
In 1948, only 5,000 head of cattle were being fattened in Florida. Thus, a doub-
ling of steers being fed by 1975 seems realistic.
4. At the present time about 200,000 head of lightweight calves weighing
an average of 225 to 250 pounds are being shipped out of Florida. By 1975 it is
estimated this number will be reduced to 80,000 head with an average weight of 400
pounds. Florida needs to increase the size and quality of its feeder calves and
keep more of them at home for feedlot feeding.
5. By 1975 better feeding, breeding, management and disease control practices
will be followed by beef cattle producers. These improved production practices should
result in heavier calves at weaning, as well as less death losses. All these and
other factors should result in increased beef production from 379 million pounds in
1963 to 700 million pounds in 1975.
in arriving at the predicted production figures for beef cattle in 1975 the
following assumptions were also made:
1. About 7,425,000 acres are now being used by beef cattle for grazing pur-
poses. It is assumed that the same acreage will be used in 1975. Some of the im-
proved pasture acreage now being used will be taken out of production by industrial'
development or housing. This will be counteracted, however, by some pasture land
being developed from present acreage listed under "Forest and Woodland".
2. Presently, about 1,900,000 acres of improved pasture are used for beef
cattle. It is estimated this acreage will increase at least 10% to 2,090,000
acres by 1975.
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3. At the present time about 250,000 acres of the 1,900,000 acres in improved
pasture are in clover. It is estimated the clover acreage will increase to at least
500,000 acres by 1975.
4. At the present time 120,000 acres are planted to annuals such as oats,
rye and millet for beef cattle (this 120,000 acres comes from cropland and is not
part of the 1,900,000 acres of improved pasture). It is estimated this acreage will
be the same in 1975.
5. The following increases will also be needed by 1975:
Percent increased needs
(a) Seed for pastures 10
(b) Nitrogen fertilizer 40
(c) Potassium fertilizer 25
(d) Limestone, phosphorus, copper
manganese and zinc fertilizer 20
(e) Machinery needs 15
(f) Labor needs 15
(g) Feed needs 76
In thinking of the future of the beef cattle industry there are many problems.
However, problems will be encountered in any state of the nation by the beef pro-
ducer. Thus, the fact that we have problems should not deter us from developing
the full potential available in Florida. Some of the problems to be met in Florida
are as follows:
I. Increase quality of cattle. This is one of our biggest problems but it
can be met by the use of better quality bulls and better culling and selection of
the cow herd.
2. Improve all production practices. This means a better job of feeding,
breeding, management, disease and parasite control, marketing and all phases of
3. Rising land values. Rising land values and taxation rates will force
the cattleman to produce more and better quality beef per acre. The inefficient
producer will be squeezed out. Cattleman will need to work with their tax assessors
in order to keep tax rates fair and in line with making it possible to raise beef
cattle profitably by the efficient producer.
In spite of these and other problems, Florida has unlimited possibilities for
cattlemen who will use quality animals and up to date production and management