The Florida Cracker is known to be the oldest native bovine breed in the US.
It is also one of the rarest breeds in the US and descended from SPanish stock imported onto the continent during the early 16th Century. They are sometimes known as the Florida Scrub or even just simply the Cracker cow.
These cattle are known to be one of the original criolla-breeds brought to the country by Spanish explorers. It is also a close relative to the Pineywoods cattle breed. The only major difference, is that Purebred Cracker cattle were never crossed with English breeds, like the Pineywoods were. The breed is alo said to be a relative of the Texas Longhorn as well as the Corriente.
They are a small breed and horned. They are well known for their parasite resisting ability, as well as general hardiness. Usually an adult cow weighs approximately 400kgs, while they come in a range of different colours. These colours can vary from solid white, to white with black or brown spots, all black, pure golden, dappled-grey/blue, solid brown or even dappled brown.
They are very similar in appearance to the Texas Longhorn, without the massively longhorns. Their horns though can contain various twists and different shapes.
The breed is also very docile in nature, making them easy for handling by humans. They are also a popular choice in the US for cattle roping competitions and cow-raising activities due to their docile nature.
The breed is still currently listed as “critical” by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy. Heifers come into sexual maturity at a younger age, while they have excellent fertility. They also are very good at withstanding high temperatures.
They generally eat what nutrition is available to them, and were wild cattle for years. During this time they grazed in heavily wooded areas or ‘scrubs’, which is where they obtained the nickname ‘Florida Scrub’.
The breed was almost wiped out in the 1950’s, due to excessive cross-breeding with other breeds. There have been many conservation programmes set up since the 1970’s to help save the breed, while in 1989 the Florida Cracker Cattle Breeders Association was formed. At this time there were over 400 animals evaluated and registered to serve as foundation animals of the breed.
One of the oldest native breeds in the US and the rarest too, this Florida breed really is a ‘Cracker’.