florida Museum
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7900 Old Kings Rd. N.
Palm Coast, FL 32137

386-446-7630

 

 

 

 


Heritage Livestock

Part of the Museum's mission is the preservation of heritage livestock breeds. The Museum has a variety of chickens including the Turken, unique because of its turkey-like bare neck. Ducks, including Swedish Blues, waddle across the farm. The Museum’s cows and horses are Florida Cracker, descendants from animals introduced to Florida in the St. Augustine area by the Spaniards during the 1500s.

Florida Cracker CattleFLORIDA CRACKER CATTLE are one of the oldest breeds in the United States. As the Spaniards colonized Florida and other parts of the Americas, they established low-input extensive open range systems typical of Spanish ranching. The genetic heritage of Florida Cracker cattle is derived from crossing the lighter-colored European cow with the wild or semi-wild descendants of that uniquely Iberian breed, Bos taurus ibericus. Black, dark red, and dark brown in color, it was the ancestor of the modern fighting bull. As a breed, Florida Cracker cattle were shaped primarily by natural selection in an environment that is generally hostile to cattle. This resulted in cattle that were heat-tolerant, long-lived, resistant to parasites and diseases, and productive on the low quality forage that is typical of the grasslands and swamps of the deep South. They exhibit the angular conformation common to Spanish cattle adapted to harsh conditions. The breed shares many of the same bloodlines as the Texas Longhorns and the Piney Woods cattle of Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia. Colors vary greatly and are a legacy from their ancestors in southern Spain.

Florida Cracker HorsesFLORIDA CRACKER HORSES also trace their ancestry to Spanish stock brought to Florida in the St. Augustine area during the 16th century. The genetic heritage of the Cracker horse is derived from the Iberian horse of early 15th century Spain, the North African Barb, and Spanish Jennet. Its genetic base is very similar to that of the Spanish Mustang, Paso Fino, Criollo, and other breeds developed from the horses introduced to the Americas by the Spaniards and Portuguese. Early in Florida's history, cattle ranching became a major industry. Cattle, hides, and tallow were major exports to Cuba and other destinations for hundreds of years. The Spaniards, Seminoles, and Americans all used the small, agile Spanish horses to work the large herds of cattle in the state. Cracker horses were Florida's preferred cow ponies until the Depression Era when they were affected by a situation that had many unintended consequences. During the arid Dust Bowl years, the US federal government shipped cattle from Oklahoma and Texas to Florida where pasture was available. Those cattle brought with them a terrible parasite known as the screw-worm. The infected cattle had to be dragged through dipping vats every two weeks to treat the parasites. This required horses larger than the Florida Crackers and most cattlemen began to use breeds like the quarter horse to work their cattle. By 1983, there were only 250 Florida Cracker horses left of the thousands of horses from fifty years earlier. A group of concerned native Floridians made a concerted effort to preserve the breed. The Florida Agricultural Museum is proud to help in the conservation of this unique horse breed.

Piney Rooter Hogs
PINEY ROOTER HOGS are descended in part from the domestic Spanish hog introduced during the 1500s. Another genetic source for the rooter came from the English settlers in America’s northern colonies. Feral Spanish hogs and English domesticated hogs freely intermingled. The hogs developed into what were termed "razorbacks" or "piney woods rooters". "Razorbacks" because when a male hog is excited, his mane of stiff hair bristles stick up. The name "Piney wood rooters" came from "rooting" around the leaf decay looking for roots and bugs to feed on. These hogs tend to be more territorial than most present day feral hogs and do not tend to migrate until they deplete all available food sources or encounter a water supply shortage. Hogs were allowed to range freely until it was time to harvest the surplus.