New Cracker Calf at the Florida Agriculture Museum
|August 13, 2015||Posted by Arlette under Agriculture, Cattle, Education, Farms, Kids, News, Uncategorized|
The Florida Agriculture Museum is pleased to announce an addition to their Cracker cattle herd with the birth of a handsome red bull calf. Florida Cracker cattle are a part of Florida’s living history, being descendents of the first European breeds of cattle to arrive in the Americas. The Florida Cracker cattle breed is still quite rare, but prospects are bright, especially with the birth of this new baby.
In the early 1500s, Spanish explorer Juan Ponce De León brought horses, cattle, farm implements and seeds to what is now known as Florida, in an attempt to survive and establish colonies for the homeland of Spain. The descendents of the Spanish cattle from this period are now referred to as Florida Cracker cattle, a name they garnered because of the sound made by the cow whip cracking the air. As the Spanish colonized Florida and other parts of the Americas, they established low input, extensive cattle ranging systems typical of Spanish ranching. The Florida Cracker which developed under these conditions can also be called criollo cattle, a word referring to people and animals of Spanish descent.
Florida Cracker cattle are small. Cows weigh between 600 and 800 pounds and bulls weigh between 800 and 1,200 pounds. Being bred in a relatively hostile environment, Florida Cracker cattle are heat tolerant, long lived, and resistant to parasites and diseases. They remain productive on the low quality forage found on Florida’s grasslands and swamps.
It was not until the importation of Zebus from India and the development of the American Brahman breed in the 1900s, that the Florida Cracker had competition from other heat-tolerant cattle. The development of parasiticides and other medications allowed British and European breeds to survive in the South, which resulted in further diversification of Florida’s cattle industry. This influx of new breeds nearly caused the extinction of the Florida Cracker breed. However, through the efforts of a Florida Cracker cattle enthusiasts including the Florida Agriculture Museum and the Florida Cracker Cattle Association the breed has survived in its pure form.