When I first moved to Florida, 20 years ago, I learned the Florida produced more cattle than Texas, this is no longer the case but back then it was. So, I thought it might be fun to give a brief tidbit about Cattle from the 19th century perspective.
Cattle-raising has long been one of the principal and most profitable of all the many resources of Florida, and strange as it may appear, it is most extensively carried on in the extreme southern portion of the State. There is no doubt that Northern Florida is unexcelled for cattle-raising, although at present, and for many years past, it has been most extensive in the southern part, on the Gulf. Punta Rassa, at the extreme southern end of Charlotte Harbor, is the third port in the United States for cattle-shipments; and the vast savannas, or prairies, in that region, are grazed by thousands of heads. Cattle-herding is about the easiest occupation in the State, but it takes capital to start in it, and it requires time to develop it. As to the grade of cattle, it is the same as with the hogs—the native breeds are small and extremely unpromising in appearance; but, as in the case of hogs, this is all for lack of care and breeding, and where high-grade, blooded cattle are introduced, and are attended to with anything like the attention given by Northern stockmen, they do just as well as anywhere, and involve far less expense and labor.
It is often remarked as strange by the visitor to Florida, and is undoubtedly true, that in a State where cattle abound and may be kept almost for nothing, such a thing as fresh milk is almost unprocurable. In the remotest districts, canned milk brought from the North is constantly used; and in a herd of cattle numbering hundreds there is not a single milch-cow. This, however, is due to the "custom of the country," and not to any difficulty that is encountered in keeping good milch-cows in Florida. There as elsewhere, of course, they require attention, and can not be left to gather all their food in the woods and swamps, as is done with ordinary stock-cattle; but it has been proved in innumerable instances that cows properly fed and properly looked after will give milk as good in quality and as abundant in quantity as similar cows will give anywhere. This, however, is true only of cows that have become acclimated, and those of the choicer Northern and foreign breeds are not easily acclimated. The best and surest milch-cow is what is known as the Georgia cow—one brought from the neighboring State of Georgia; and next to these are the native cows that have been separated from the ordinary cattle while heifers, and treated as animals from whom milk is desired should be treated everywhere. I am inclined to think that there is nothing to which Florida farmers could more profitably give their attention than to the production of a good breed of milk-giving cows adapted to the peculiar local conditions.
Course: Florida for Tourists, Invalids, and Settlers ©1884