Florida is one of the nation’s leading beef cattle producers. More than 1 million cattle graze nearly 5 million acres on land that is mostly privately owned. Buck Island Ranch is a 10,500 acre cattle ranch, among the top-20 commercial cow-calf producers in Florida. BIR’S herd is ~3,000 Brahma-cross cows bred to 150 Angus or Charolais bulls. Over 2,300 calves are raised annually and typically sold May-August.
The herd subsists mainly on grass in the summer but is supplemented with feed in the winter (mostly molasses-based but also dry feeds and some hay) and free choice mineral year-round. Cattle are rotated among pastures to increase utilization, and much of the herd is moved to semi-native pastures in the winter months and maintained on the interior improved Bahia grass pastures in the summer. Ranch operations revenue is derived largely from cattle sales, with some additional income from Bahia grass sod and hunting leases. BIR uses a national Standardized Performance Analysis program to track financial and production information. The cattle operation is tracked with electronic ear tags (RFID). We have developed our own Access-based database, CattleSTAR to track the cattle herd and assist with financial and production analysis.