A proposal, if successful, would highlight Florida Cracker Cattle by making them Florida’s heritage cattle breed.
Representative MaryLynn Magar, a Republican out of Tequesta, proposed in September that Florida’s Cracker Cattle become the state’s designated heritage cattle breed. Just like oranges are the state’s official fruit, the Cracker Cattle breed would be the state’s official heritage cattle breed. See the details below.
Cracker Cattle Details
Proposal HB 155 recommended to have the issue filed for consideration during the 2018 legislative session. The Cracker Cattle would join Tupelo honey as an official state designation (Tupelo is the state’s official honey, which was approved during the 2017 session). Other past designations include horse conchs, Myakka fine sand, Key lime pie, alligators, and Zebra Longwing butterflies, according to a Southeast AgNet article.
Cracker Cattle are descendants of the cattle first brought to Florida in the 1500’s by the Spanish. The breed adapted to the dense scrublands that characterize much of Florida’s countryside, and the low levels of nutrition found in that vegetation resulted in a small-statured yet tough animal that could withstand the Florida heat, according to the Florida Cracker Cattle Association. Coloration run from red to black and brown to brindle, and the both sexes feature upturned horns. These were the cattle that Cracker cowboys led on drives through the Florida wilderness.
Cracker Cattle were cross-bred with other breeds throughout the years, but the Florida Cracker Cattle Association maintains that, “while Shorthorn, and later Hereford and Angus, bulls would have been crossed with Florida Cracker cows in many parts of Florida, they did not have a major role in the demise of the breed as the use of Brahman bulls.” It is believed to be very unlikely that pure, uncrossed Florida Cracker cows exists, but efforts began in the 1970s to preserve the breed as much as possible. Ranching families donated Cracker Cattle for state herds, and the herds were installed on state lands around Florida.
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Photo courtesy of anoldent.