Florida Cracker cattle

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Florida Cracker cow nursing her calf

The Florida Cracker Cow 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.

Breed Characteristics[edit]

Florida Cracker cows 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 cows 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. They have an average milk yield in comparison to other cattle but are mainly used for meat purposes as they produce good, quality meat. These very hardy animals are well adapted to native climates and are very heat tolerant, which allows them to graze on low quality forages found on grasslands and in swamps in the Deep South of the United States. A good longevity allows this breed of cattle to live long, purposeful lives. [4]

History[edit]

The Florida Cracker cattle are very similar to another breed known as Pineywoods, however, they share a key difference in their place of origin. Pineywoods come from the Southern states including Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, while Crackers originate from Florida, hence the name. This breed of cattle was among those sent by Spain during the claiming of the New World. Over time the breed was crossed with other breeds, in order to select for desirable traits; this resulted in true pure breed Florida Cracker cattle becoming a rarity. There were however, a small number of families which maintained the pure bloodline, later (in the early 90’s) this task was taken over by the Pineywoods Cattle Registry and Breeders Association, as well as the Florida Cracker Cattle Association. [5]

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.[6]

Close-up of Florida Cracker cow in the 1980s

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 Breed Information". Modern Farming Methods.
  5. ^ "Florida Cracker Cattle". Hobby Farms.
  6. ^ "Florida Cracker Cattle". Ark of Taste. Slow Food USA.

External links[edit]