Florida Cracker cattle

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Florida Cracker cow nursing her calf

The Florida Cracker is a breed of cattle developed in the state of Florida, and named for the Florida Cracker culture in which it was kept. Also known as the Florida Scrub or just as the Cracker cow, these cattle are one of the criollo-type breeds originally brought to the Southern U.S. by the Spanish Conquistadors.[1] The breed is very closely related to the Pineywoods cattle breed, but purebred Crackers have not been crossbred with any English breeds like the Pineywoods has in the past.[1] Other related breeds include the Corriente and Texas Longhorn.

Florida Crackers are one of the oldest and rarest breeds of cattle in United States.[2] Descended from Spanish stock imported to the continent in the 16th century, Florida Crackers are a small, horned breed that quickly adapted to the Florida landscape and have long been prized for their resistance to parasites and other hardy traits.[1] They weigh generally under 900 pounds (400 kg), come in many colors, and both males and females are horned.[3] They can be dappled-grey/blue, dappled-brown, solid brown, solid white, white with black spots, white with brown spots, all black, or in some cases, a pure golden palomino. They tend to be more docile and easier to manage by humans, making them a popular choice for cattle roping competitions and for recreational cow-raising activities, such as 4-H.

After 1949 the combination of new laws about free-roaming livestock and the introduction of larger beef breeds led to the rapid decline of the Florida Cracker.[1] Despite the continued work of the Florida state government and a breed association, the breed is still listed as "critical" by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy,[2] and is listed on Slow Food USA's Ark of Taste.[4]

Cracker cows near Gainesville, FL 1929-1930

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Ekarius, Carol (2008). Storey's Illustrated Breed Guide to Sheep, Goats, Cattle and Pigs. Storey Publishing. ISBN 978-1-60342-036-5. 
  2. ^ a b "Florida Cracker Cattle". American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. 
  3. ^ "Breeds of Livestock". Oklahoma State University Dept. of Animal Science. 
  4. ^ "Florida Cracker Cattle". Ark of Taste. Slow Food USA. 

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