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FLORIDA An Ideal Cattle State

Copyrighted 1918 by
P. O. Box 1181
Jacksonville, Florida


_By W. F. Blackman, Ph. D., LL. D._

_President of the Florida State Live Stock Association,
Member of the Florida State Live Stock Sanitary Board._

Requests for authentic information as to the advantages and
possibilities of Florida for the growing of live stock, and in
particular of beef cattle, have been coming of late, and in constantly
increasing numbers, from all parts of the country.

This booklet has been compiled for the purpose of providing this

The gentlemen who have contributed to the volume are men of ability,
long and successful experience in the live stock and kindred industries,
and the most trustworthy character. Several of them have been engaged
for many years in the growing and marketing of cattle on a very large
scale in Texas, and have recently made a prolonged and close study of
Florida conditions. The report of their findings is of the utmost

Prof. C. V. Piper, agrostologist of the Bureau of Plant Industry,
Department of Agriculture, Washington, is recognized as the foremost
authority on Southern grasses and forage crops. We are indebted to him
for permission to make use of the valuable address on this important
subject which was made by him at the recent annual meeting of the
Florida State Live Stock Association.

A study of these papers will make it evident, I believe, that Florida
possesses a number of advantages for the profitable growing of live
stock greater than those to be found elsewhere; among these are a mild,
equable and healthful climate, comparative freedom from animal diseases,
a long grazing season, vast areas of cheap lands, a soil adapted to the
growing of numerous improved grasses and forage crops (especially such
legumes as the velvet bean, the cow pea, the soy bean, the vetches, the
indigenous beggar-weed, the peanut, and certain clovers), a copious and
well-distributed rainfall, and countless springs, streams and lakes,
providing almost everywhere an abundant and unfailing supply of pure

There can be no doubt, I believe, that Florida will take a leading place
in the near future among the important live stock states of the Union.
What she needs is additional thousands of intelligent, energetic,
thrifty and experienced farmers, who will take advantage of the
opportunities she offers and develop to the full her immense and latent

Lake Monroe, February, 1918.


_By Frank S. Hastings, Manager of the S. M. S. Ranch,
Stamford, Texas, who spent two weeks studying conditions in
Florida just previous to the Sixth Annual Convention of the
Florida State Live Stock Association, at which he was one of
the speakers. These impressions have been prepared by Mr.
Hastings for the benefit of the cattle men of Florida._

Before coming to the State I asked that I might see as many classes of
cattle as possible and in as many different parts of the State as

My first trip was through the Everglades. I then made a trip near
Gainesville, and visited the registered Hereford herd owned by Mr. N. A.
Callison; also the grade herd of both Herefords and Shorthorns owned by
Mr. A. L. Jackson of Gainesville, and the pure-bred and graded Shorthorn
herd owned by Mr. S. H. Gaitskill of McIntosh. Then followed a four
days' careful trip over the properties and herd of the Kissimmee Island
Cattle Company, where I saw Brahma cattle, Hereford cattle and Shorthorn
cattle in various grades, and their herd of Florida cattle bought last
year. Then over the Indian Prairie country, the Osceola prairie country,
including Halpatioka Flats, the marsh country of Okeechobee, with an
unusually good opportunity for seeing the cattle scattered over the open
range and to observe conditions on the open range.

Incident to this great expanse, comprehending over six hundred miles in
actual auto driving, I did not see a single windmill, or other
artificial means of furnishing water, although I am told that on not a
single acre of that entire property is there any difficulty in finding
water at a depth of from ten to fifty feet. I shall come back to this
item, only pausing here to call your especial attention to the fact that
over this vast area of undeveloped water conditions, water can be
supplied at a very small cost sufficient to increase the carrying
capacity of the range at least several hundred per cent, and as against
developing a similar water supply over the average Texas pasture
country, it can be done at twenty-five per cent of the cost in Florida
as against the Texas cost.

Probably the most important thing that I saw in Florida was the
registered Hereford herd of Mr. Callison. I recall that he boasted that
in eight years they had never been given any winter help, and there were
no evidences on his property that the cattle were in any way pampered.

He had about thirty or forty of last spring's calves, which he was just
weaning, and they were as good, on the average, as any bunch of calves I
have ever seen in the great registered Hereford producing districts. I
saw his yearlings and twos and his cows, and the entire herd shows in
general development and quality a very favorable comparison with
anything in the great breeding districts outside of distinct show herds.

If the climate of Florida can produce these registered cattle without
help and have them make a favorable comparison with cattle in the great
registered breeding grounds of other parts of America, there is no
reason why beef cattle can not be produced which, in turn, will form a
favorable comparison with those of the great pasture breeding grounds,
which, in turn, are furnishing the feeder cattle for the corn belt.

On Mr. Jackson's place we found both graded Herefords and Shorthorns in
the third generation, with splendid development and quality, and we
found in his registered or pure-bred herd of Shorthorns good quality and

At the home of Mr. Gaitskill we found both pure breds and grades of good
development, and a splendid object lesson in a half-bred cow known as
"Old Blue," her dam one of the primitive Florida cows and her sire a
pure-bred Shorthorn bull. She is what might be called a blue roan, with
the blue almost black. Then we saw her daughters and their daughters,
and I think we saw a fourth generation, but either in this third or
fourth generation, I remarked to Mr. Gaitskill that he could lie a
little about that heifer, as she had absolutely every appearance and all
development of an absolutely pure-bred Shorthorn.

In this same district we learned from Mr. Jackson that graded cattle all
the way from half-breeds up to seven-eighths and in the mixed threes and
fours ages, all by registered bulls, weighed 900 pounds off grass last
fall. As near as I can obtain information, the same ages in the native
Florida steers and under most favorable conditions would probably not
weigh to exceed 600 pounds.

On this same trip Mr. Edwards of McIntosh told me that he got about half
the gain on the native steers that he does from three-quarter-bred
grades, on the same feed.

The foregoing is a practical demonstration that as far as climate,
general feeds and ordinary normal conditions are concerned, graded
cattle thrive in Florida.

It is important that I should have seen them, because I am working on
well defined and demonstrated general principles of breeding and beef
production, and they respond in every way to the foregoing.

From this time on we must reckon with the world's supply of live stock.
Without attempting to go into details, there has been a very material
decrease in it during the past ten years. We know that Europe must be
re-stocked after the war, and that the American supply is freer from
disease than that of any other country.

We know that under normal conditions the beef production of America has
not kept pace with the population, and that even without the influence
of war values of beef, stock cattle values have shown a steady increase
for the past ten years. There is, therefore, every reason to believe
that for a very long period in the future, even taking into
consideration reduced beef consumption as the result of substitutes or
every other influence, there is a reasonable expectation for strong
values and a profit on production under normal expense. I think that we
may go beyond the favorable general market and say that there will be a
better market in proportion for the intermediate grades of beef, for
grass produced beef, than for the very extreme corn-fed finish, and that
in the evolution of the Florida beef problem, the grades produced will
at least be in as great demand, and probably greater demand, than the
ultra finished class.

It is, therefore, fair to argue that the market is with the producer.

You are singularly fortunate in having a Legislature which seems in
every way disposed toward doing everything in its power to help develop
the resources of the State.

The Government believes that live stock production is its second
greatest problem, and in every possible way that it can give
co-operation is pledged to do so. In fact, I do not think that I would
have been here at all unless a high official in the Bureau of Animal
Industry had not urged me to come, in line with their work of general
development throughout the South.

Another thing, I find that Florida is very much in the public eye, and
that all the live stock journals are anxious to have anything which
touches upon increased beef production anywhere, but in the South

With the knowledge that I might be here some time this winter, I talked
to two of the great packers about the development of the beef industry
in the South, and they both said that they thought the South was going
to come to the front very rapidly, and that either they or some one else
would undoubtedly keep pace with the development by enlarging their
present facilities or building new packing houses.

In that connection a packer loves a hog country to work in conjunction
with cattle. Without giving the topic any more than this general
statement, I can see where hog production is going to be one of the
great things in Florida, and that while in Texas we do not attempt to
produce any hogs along with our cattle, that hogs will be to some extent
a part of the great pasture problems.

In a general way, conditions are very similar in Florida now to those of
some thirty-five years ago in Texas, at which time that State was an
open range proposition. Today, with the exception of a very small strip
along the Gulf Coast, the entire State of Texas is under fence, and in a
general way has been under fence for nearly twenty years.

There has never been a time in the State of Texas in the past twenty
years when practically all of the grazing area of the State has not been
occupied, and as against the cattle carried on the open range with
practically no water development, the pastures of Texas, which are known
as the range (but the word range in Texas means large bodies of inclosed
land), are carrying several hundred per cent more cattle than at that

The thing which in Texas led to great hardships alike to the large
pasture owner and to the settler himself was the fact that so much of
the land did not lie in solid bodies. I judge that in the main there is
much less of this in Florida than in Texas, and that either by
partition, or purchase, or auxiliary lease, the great bulk of that
complication can be handled.

And that brings me to the principle of fencing, which I think may be
covered under the general heading of Control. First, it means defined
ownership, which is always recognized. It means fire control, because it
eliminates the wantonness which we now find all over your open range,
each man working out his problem and firing the range for various

Fencing means that an area may be developed to its capacity. For
instance, on your ranges fire kills the various varieties of the carpet
or blanket grass and kills the little blue cane, as well as any number
of other grasses, all of which, however, come back where an area is
protected, and as they are among your very best feeds, the carrying
capacity of a pasture is materially increased.

Water may be developed through the windmill process directly in
proportion with the needs of the cattle and concentrated to them as
against any water development on the open range.

It is a scientific fact that eradication of the tick may be accomplished
by resting a pasture for a certain time. Fencing means the concentration
of that area to the best bulls as against not only their mixture with
the scrub bulls on the open range, but the fact that the old Spanish
fighting blood in the scrub bull materially reduces the effectiveness of
the higher class bull. Fencing means that if on any favorable areas you
wish to introduce any of the wonderful grasses which the Department of
Agriculture is showing can be spread very rapidly, it can be done
concentrating to ownership.

Fencing means that lands which are now being occupied by some one else
without revenue, but at an expense, may be made to either pay a fair
interest on the investment of land, improvements and cattle, or at least
a rental revenue which will take care of taxes, interest on improvements
and become a net economy, as against the open range.

I believe, too, that the principle will stand that a property defined by
fences immediately takes on increased value; that the buyer would pay
more for it per acre defined than looking at it in the abstract as part
of the open range.

I do not think that in the whole State of Texas you will find a single
land owner, who has fenced his ranches, who does not know that it has
been done at a splendid profit.

You begin your problem with a tick-wide eradication law, which Texas has
only had a very short time. You begin it at a time when the Government
and most of the tick-infested states are releasing thousands of square
miles every year, and at a time when both science and every practical
observer understands it as an economic measure, which may be pursued
with practically no detriment or danger to the cattle. I think that we
probably dipped in the neighborhood of a million cattle, considering the
number of times that they were dipped, and we did not lose a total of
fifty head from all causes.

Eradication means larger cattle in better condition on the same feeds
and a less mortality. It means that they can go anywhere in America
without restriction; or, in other words, a broader market and no
punishment just before shipment. I do not think that the perpetuity of
the tick can be defended from any economic standpoint.

I want to take up the breeding section, first with reference to what
your cattle represent and a comparison with primitive cattle in other
countries. I am advised on reliable authority that forty years ago the
only ready money in this country came from the cattle men who either
topped their bulls and took them to Cuba, or the Cubans came here and
topped them, taking the very best sires that you produced for sport and
slaughter. You have, therefore, for forty years been grading down, as
far as the sire is concerned.

In the matter of the cows, there has been no culling, added to which
there has been in-breeding, and on both the sire and dam side following
out the law that evil qualities intensify in posterity, the tendency has
been down instead of up in the breeding of native cattle for forty
years, to which the only relief has been a very limited introduction of
the beef strains.

In addition to this, the cattle have been infested with ticks, and every
evil influence that could arrest their development seems to have had a
good chance at them, and yet in spite of all this I find them on the
whole much better than I had expected.

I have been trying to make a comparison between them and the primitive
cattle of Texas, which I have known for fifty years, as they were
pastured next to my father's farm in great quantities when I was only
seven years old and long before there was any process of improvement. I
think the Texas cattle had greater scale, but from all I can learn I do
not believe they had any greater vitality. I think, on the whole,
though, that in evolving a race of cattle you have a little further to
go than Texas had.

Mr. Alvin Sanders, Editor of the Breeders' Gazette, in his book, "The
Story of the Herefords," traces very carefully the first introduction
of blooded bulls to the Texas and Western ranges, and forty years,
certainly forty-five, is as far back as that influence began. My own
people began on primitive Texas cattle in 1882, but from that time used
only full-blooded sires, about ninety per cent Hereford and about ten
per cent Shorthorn, and only about three years after I went with them
sixteen years ago, I took selected calves from their herd to Chicago and
won grand sweepstakes for feeder cattle with them against all
competition from all sections of the United States. When I went to the
S. M. S. herd I found a wonderful lot of breeding cows, the bulk of them
at least fifteen-sixteenths and only requiring a vigorous culling
process to bring them to a remarkably high standard.

I was identified with Mr. Kirk Armour during the great progress in
grading up Texas herds in the '90's, and it was noticeable in the stock
yards that in a short space of about six years there was an absolute
change in the general run of cattle from the ranges to the yards from
primitive cattle to cattle showing very appreciable improvement, and in
twelve years the longhorn had become a scarcity; he was practically
extinct in 1900.

Argentina during the same period evolved from a primitive race of cattle
one which will compare very favorably to that of America in its
up-grading. The other South American Republics have been slower, but
between Argentina and America two demonstrations have been given within
my own lifetime of a race of cattle absolutely redeemed from the
primitive to practically full-bloods, and that the first twelve years of
that work has resulted in animals showing fifty per cent increase in
weight under the same conditions, a much higher degree of meat in the
rib and loin and round, with an immense improvement in their instinct
for putting on weight on the same feed over the primitive cattle.

I am simply taking these generally demonstrated laws of breeding to
apply to your conditions. I am sure that by using good sires you will
find an immense improvement in three years; that in six years it will be
a revelation, and that in twelve years you will have a race of cattle
for which the world will make a path to your door.

To arrive at this process I must first disclaim any thought of urging
any particular breed upon you. On the other hand, I could not be fair to
the problem without calling your attention to the fact that the Hereford
has been the redeemer of the great Western ranges. I am sure, however,
that the greater the degree of purity that you use in him, up to at
least a seven-eighths, will be shown in the result.

I find that there is some prejudice against the Hereford in Florida, but
as far as I can follow it they apparently got a very low grade of
bulls - I am inclined to think not over half-breeds, and then, too, they
found they didn't get any more at that time for the better grades than
they did for the others.

The limitation of the Hereford is that in the first cross between a
pure-bred and any of the primitive cattle ninety per cent will show
white faces or dominant characteristics, and just so in the use of
bulls, the animal may not have the intensification of blood that he
should have simply because he has a white face, and the bull peddler
has, as a proposition, bought something that he could sell at a profit,
rather than in following out any visions of cattle improvement.

I can not urge you too strongly to know absolutely the breeding strength
of anything you buy, and that means in a general way that you must buy
known cattle. I realize, too, that there is a great shortage of bulls,
and probably the only way that you can get what you want, because it
goes without saying that you can not afford to pay the price for
registered bulls in all your work, is to work in some way through a
central community of interests, go to Texas and buy the bull calf crop
of some herd of cattle that will show fifteen-sixteenths or better
breeding. I urge this freely, because you must go below the line and
none of our own cattle are available. I believe that if you bring these
calves over here, say in November at weaning time, at the age of about
six months, and give them some good winter help, that they will
acclimate quickly, and will give you very fair returns in the yearling
period, although, of course, you can not expect from them a real
usefulness until the two-year-old period.

While the Hereford has been the redeemer of the ranges, practically
every ranch man in Texas has felt that an undercurrent of Shorthorn is
of the greatest advantage. We have used it persistently in our own work,
and feel that it has given a most appreciable contribution to the weight
and general quality of our cattle.

In the last few years the Brahma cattle have come into prominence, and
every investigation that I have made shows that they will undoubtedly
prove a great factor in the evolution of Florida cattle. They seem to be
immune to most of the pests and do not require as much in the way of
acclimatization. They show a wonderful growth in yearlings and they mark
their progeny with size and distinct characteristics in a most decided
way. The packers seem to like them; they kill out a large per cent of
beef, and while I have never had any experience with them, all my
observation has been in their favor, and I urge you to go as far as you
can in utilizing them in Florida.

I am, however, convinced that you are going to need both the Shorthorn
and the Hereford to combine with them. I am also convinced that both the
Shorthorns and the Black cattle are going to prove very valuable
adjuncts in your eventual work in the State, particularly as applied to
small areas where the cattle are not asked to live as much upon their
own resources. The experience, however, in Texas has been that the calf
crop is not as great from either of these breeds as from the Herefords.

For your information, on the S. M. S. Ranch we have averaged better than
eighty percent calf crop for the last ten years. I think that perhaps
you will find the Brahma cattle even more prolific than the Herefords. I
think, too, that in every possible way you should encourage the breeders
of full-blood cattle in all of these breeds, and that you give them
every encouragement in purchasing their progeny.

The introduction of good bulls is a comparatively simple matter, because
they can be purchased, but a great cow herd can only be produced by
accumulation, probably by a culling of at least ten per cent of all
females every year during the process of up-grading. The yearling
heifers should not be bred. We always cull them when about eighteen
months old, cutting them ten per cent. Culling should be done both from
an individual standpoint and from the standpoint of "Get." The culling
process is the most important element in beef evolution.

The process of culling will not be extravagant, because looking to the
next few years it would seem that canner cattle will probably be as
strong as any other branch of the industry, and these culls are usually
not only splendid canners, but furnish quite an element of cutters,
which means cattle producing very fair meat for regular consumption. I
believe, too, that on any range of appreciable dimensions you will find
it an economy to produce your own bulls, and in starting any good sized
property I urge that you keep that in mind. Get your cows just as good
as you can get them; of course pure-breds will be better, and then use
only the best registered sires in that herd.

I think advisable, too, in your branding, to put the year brand on all
heifers, as it will be of material assistance to you in the matter of
knowing the intensification of blood during the early process. It will

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