Florida cattle are in a unique predicament that herds raised in northern states don’t have to manage. While we may not have snow, we have a very warm climate that can be hard on cattle health. Heat stress is a common ailment for cattle raised in hot climates, so it’s important for ranchers to manage that heat when they can by providing shade and access to fresh water. However, researchers are continuing to dive into genetics and see how selective traits can assist with thermotolerance. Read more industry news on our Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch blog. 

Coat Types
Coat characteristics play a huge role in keeping the animal cool. Coarser fur keeps sweat trapped close to the skin where it cannot evaporate, keeping the animal’s body temperature higher. It also restricts air flow over the skin, so breezes don’t cool the animal as much as for a cow with a shorter, smoother coat. Darker coat colors also trap heat more than lighter colors, just like the color of the clothes you wear. To see some of the ways we keep our cattle cool, visit us for an agritour

For years, cattle have been bred for their desired traits. Florida Cracker cattle descended from cattle brought to Florida from European stock in the early sixteenth century, bred for their hardiness and resistance to drought and high temperatures. A variety of Florida Cracker, Angus, Brahman, Hereford, and other breeds of cattle are common throughout Florida today, many of which have been crossbred to achieve the best characteristics and genetic traits. 

Research on Cattle Thermotolerance
Research and breeding is still being done to select the best combinations for cattle in the Florida climate. When a research group in the Department of Animals Sciences at the University of Florida tested temperatures on thousands of Brangus heifers, they found “excessively smooth” type coats with lighter colors performed best in keeping cattle cool. They also found a great variation among coat length and coarseness even within breeds, so selective breeding can be done to find the best combination. 

At Dark Hammock Legacy Ranch, we practice responsible farming by providing cooling resources, as well as constantly being on the lookout for the latest research and development to continue to provide our community with the highest-quality beef