Saturday, February 28, 2015

Tidbits about Sheep in Florida

Most people aren't aware that for many years Florida was the number one cattle raising state in the United States. It was only until the later part of the 20th century when Texas took on that title. If you'd like to read some other tidbits on Florida Cattle Ranching you can click on the link.

But what most people are unaware of was that sheep was a growing industry in Florida during the 19th Century. Finding that tidbit led me to cast one of my characters as a shepherd. But you can read about Ian and his story in a few days when "The Shepherd's Betrothal" is released.

For now, let's look at some interesting tidbits about the 19th Century Sheep of Florida.
*They came with the Spanish when they were exploring and establishing colonies in Florida.
*In 1850 there were 23,311 sheep yielding 23,247 pounds of wool.
*The Native grasses of Florida while good for the sheep often took a couple years for the grasses to feed 3 or 4 head per acre. When some shepherds started they needed 2.5 acres to feed one sheep.
*Florida shepherds would feed their sheep the native grasses, cotton seed, turnips, sweet potatoes, rye and oats.
*Salt was a necessary part of the sheep's diet.
*Primarily the panhandle and northern parts of Florida was know for sheep.

Lynn A. Coleman is an award winning & best-selling author who makes her home in Keystone Heights, Florida, with her husband of 40 years. Lynn's newest novel "The Shepherd's Betrothal" released last month. It is the second in her Historical St. Augustine, FL. series.
Check out her 19th Century Historical Tidbits Blog if you like exploring different tidbits of history.


  1. Wow, I didn't know that. How interesting!
    That means each sheep yielded about 100 lbs of wool, right? That's amazing.

  2. Such interesting tidbits! The Shepherd's Betrothal sounds like a wonderful story. Congratulations on the upcoming release, Lynn!

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

  3. I've never thought of Florida as sheep country, but it does make sense with so many native grasses there. So do you know if there are still sheep raised there?

    1. Yes, there are, Vickie. Obviously not as many now that Florida has become more of a destination place but we still have some farms and ranches. Cattle is still the primary livestock but there are some sheep.

  4. Thank you for this interesting post!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  5. Wonder what the salt in the diet was for? sm wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  6. Salt is necessary in all livestocks diet. Why I don't know. Guess I could ask some of the cattlemen that I know...hmm, I might have to do that.

  7. Hi all,
    Sorry I didn't get to you on Saturday. My husband and I are working on a 7 book fantasy series and we were reading through and editing the second book in the series. Thanks for taking the time to post your comments.
    In His grip,