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Ranchers: The Everyday Heroes

Anyone who is a rancher or knows a rancher would agree that they are hardworking devoted folks that care about their family, land, livestock, and honor and respect their word. They are at work before the sun comes up and after the sun goes down seven days a week. They work hard every day to make sure the food they raise helps feed your family.

Do you know how your food gets from the ranch to the table? Many people take for granted the little things that make our lives easier. When you go to the grocery store and buy hamburger meat or a steak the average person might just look at the expiration date and pick a good cut of meat, but a rancher thinks differently. They might think what breed of cattle it is? What ranch did this meat come from? Many people are unaware of where their food comes from and the hard work that goes into it.

Florida was the first U.S. state in cattle when Juan Ponce de Leon brought them here from Spain in 1521. Cattle ranching began in the 1800’s and Florida was the primary supplier of beef to the army during the Civil War. Florida is now considered a strong cow-calf state, because of our weather and year round forages that supply nutrition to our cattle.

Many Florida ranchers run cow-calf operations that have been in their family for six or seven generations. Some of you may be wondering what a cow-calf operation is. A cow-calf operation is a ranch where cattlemen and cattlewomen care for cows that produce calves every year. The calves are born in Central Florida during the months of November- February and are raised on grass with their mothers. In August and September calves reach 7-9 months of age and are weaned and shipped to the mid-west where they are grazed and fed grain to finish growing. Osceola County is home to the largest cow-calf operation in the United States called Deseret Cattle and Citrus.

The job of a cattle rancher is not only to help feed the world, but to be great stewards of the land. Cattle ranchers provide green space for wildlife animals to have a home that historically has been removed by developments. Many threatened and endangered species need the green space for their unique habitats. The pasture land not only provides homes to many wildlife species, it also is needed to help filter water and recharge our aquifer.

Ranchers love what they do. So if you have any questions, comments or concerns, about the cattle industry ask a rancher. Ranchers love to tell their story and share their passion for the agricultural industry. In my opinion, we need more people like ranchers that care about the environment and the animals around them. If you have any questions about the agricultural industry please contact your County Extension Office and remember BEEF It’s what’s for dinner.

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