National Geographic : 1952 Jan
America's "Meat on the Hoof" ing to sex and breed, but usually are very long in the males. The color of the short, fine hair ranges from white to varied shades of gray. Contrary to popular belief, the Brahman is gentle by nature, becoming dangerous only when excited or fearful. This is not strange when it is remembered that these animals have been sacred in India for centuries and roam unharmed through the streets of its largest cities, and even through public buildings such as railway stations. The first important shipment into the United States took place in 1906 when A. P. Borden brought 51 head from India to the Pierce Estate in Wharton County, Texas. In recent years they have increased materially and have been crossed with the British breeds very successfully, particularly along the Gulf Coast, in southern Florida, and in Texas. Freedom from pinkeye, ticks, and cancer eye, plus ability to withstand heat and drought, are among the strong points claimed for them. Bulls from the Higdon herd have been sold to farmers in South Carolina to be used with British beef and dairy-breed cows. To see one of these operations, I went with Mrs. Higdon to the farm of Gunther Wallen, a transplanted Connecticut Yankee who has bought considerable acreage on Wadmalaw Island and stocked it with 100 local cows of dubious origin, but bearing traces of Jersey, Guernsey, Hereford, and Shorthorn. The Higdon prize bull also was pastured there. We found Mr. Wallen on crutches. "Met with a Brahman?" I asked. "Sorry," he said cheerfully. "I fell off a horse." Prize Brahman Tame as a Pony Mrs. Wallen and her 5-year-old daughter accompanied Mrs. Higdon and me to a feed lot where the Higdon bull and two young bulls were standing. Into the lot we paraded, accompanied by two Negro helpers. All three of the bulls permitted us to pat and stroke them. Then, without further ado, the 5-year old clambered up on the back of the prize Brahman and happily rode him about the lot. We walked over to the pasture where the cows, some with calves and some about to drop them, were grazing. "We bought these cows wherever we could find them," Mrs. Wallen explained. "Each has been bred to a Brahman. See the size of those calves." "They get plenty of milk," Mrs. Higdon pointed out, "because their mothers have some milk-cow blood. Before weaning time they will be so big they will have to kneel down to nurse." Enthusiastic and zealous Brahman breeders have decided differences of opinion among themselves as to just what the future of their cattle in the United States is to be. One group insists on maintaining the integrity of the Brahman breed-the long legs, steep rump, and huge hump. Another insists that to fur ther the development of Brahmans as a beef breed they must be bred with more of the American standard beef conformation. What sort of cross between the Brahmans and the English breeds is best? Should it be half-Brahman, one-quarter Brahman, one eighth Brahman? Here again is a difference of opinion. On one point all seem to be agreed-there is nothing static in the Brah man-raising situation, and the difference of opinion is a healthy sign. Florida Now 12th in Beef Production More than one cattleman I met expressed, the belief that the future expansion of the cattle industry lay in the South and South east. Certainly increased beef production in Florida lends support to that theory. Today Florida is selling "stocker" cattle to ranches in Idaho, New Mexico, Texas, Kansas, and Colorado. Once comparatively inconsequen tial as a beef cattle State, Florida now ranks twelfth in the Nation and first in the South. Here the Brahman is thoroughly established. A pioneer breeder in the State is Henry O. Partin, who, with his sons, operates the Heart Bar Ranch at Kissimmee. Another big grower is the Norris Cattle Company, with headquarters at Ocala. The company's holdings, divided into six ranches, spread out over 110,000 acres. Of this, only about 20,000 acres remain to be cleared for pasture. R. G. Herrmann, ranch manager, has built up a herd of 1,000 purebred Brah mans. The ultimate aim of the company is to produce each year 25,000 head of 500 pound crossbred calves at six months of age. The ranch recently acquired five Charolais bulls, of which there are only a few in the United States. This breed of heavy beef cattle is native to southern France. In the Everglades, the United States Sugar Corporation became interested in 1940 in feeding blackstrap molasses to cattle (page 51). To the duties of Sidney Crochet, direc tor of purchases and sales, were added those of cattle director; so he started a ranch. Now this is known as Sugarland Ranch, sprawls over 5,000 acres of improved pasture near Clewiston, and supports a large com mercial herd as well as 400 registered Brahmans. Brahman bulls are crossed with Herefords, Shorthorns, Aberdeen-Angus, and French Charolais. Resulting crosses are known as Braford, Brahorn, Brangus, and Charbray.