Cattle

Cattleman Leading in the Sunshine State

Management : Cow & Calf

Management : Replacement

Nutrition : Supplements

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Purina Animal Nutrition

Matt Pearce, the 2019-2020 Florida Cattlemen’s Association president shares how he balances advocating for the beef community, managing his family’s cattle operation and working as a sales specialist for Purina Animal Nutrition.

As a seventh generation Florida cattle producer, Matt Pearce’s roots in beef community leadership run deep. His great-grandfather was one of nine cattlemen who founded the Florida Cattlemen’s Association in 1934. Two distant relatives served as past presidents, and Pearce followed in their leadership lineage during his 2019-20 term.

“Much like the Olympics, I’ve been training for this all of my life,” Pearce jokes. He began the path to Florida Cattlemen’s Association leadership seven years ago. He worked his way up from the executive committee to the officer team, where he served in every role including president.

Off the ranch advocacy

As the Florida Cattlemen’s Association president, environmental issues have been the bulk of policy focus for Pearce with red tide and blue-green algae often being misattributed to agriculture. Pearce tries to attend as many discussions as possible with environmental groups to point out how ranches protect habitat. One of the tools he advocates to help ranchers maintain their property is conservation easements.

“There are nearly 1,000 people per day moving to Florida, and we’re trying to maintain what land we have to protect wildlife and our way of life from urban sprawl,” Pearce says. “There's no way that six generations before me could have abused the land like they're being portrayed.”

A campaign Pearce has led during his term called “Share Your Heritage,” encourages Florida cattle producers to share their ranching lifestyle on social media and speak directly with consumers.

Ranching in three states

In addition to his leadership duties, Pearce and his family own and operate Pearce Cattle Co. in Okeechobee.
The ranch headquarters, north of Lake Okeechobee, is home to a fall-calving, crossbred cow herd with Brangus-Braford-Beefmaster breeds making up the bulk of the genetics. To the south of Lake Okeechobee near the Everglades, Pearce’s family has a commercial cow herd with more Brahman influence to handle the heat and humidity.

Another commercial herd is being developed in southern Georgia, which has less Brahman influence as more Angus or SimAngus bulls are used for breeding. Pearce also has a partnership raising commercial breeding heifers sourced from Florida ranches and then developed near Mobile, Alabama.Matt Pearce and his two kids ride horseback on the green Florida ranch.

A balancing act

Pearce works as a Purina sales specialist, where he’s been for more than two decades. Not only does he sell cattle nutrition products, but he also markets feed for several species, including horses, sheep, goats, poultry and exotic animals like alligators.

Between traveling to Florida Cattlemen’s Association gatherings, visiting Purina customers and helping on the ranch, Pearce is busy. He leans on his family and sound nutrition to help manage his time.

His family helps with the day-to-day cattle management, while Purina nutrition products help minimize labor and give him peace of mind. Products like Accuration® Cattle Limiter and Range Liquid are left out free-choice in bulk feeders and tanks allowing Pearce to fill them as needed on weekends.

His nutrition mainstays include: “We were using Purina products long before I started with the company and they have only improved over time,” Pearce says.

He points to optimal conception rates and weaning weights with higher fat supplements like Accuration® Range Liquid available year-round.

Nutrition rain or shine

Central and southern Florida don’t have true seasons set by a frost or hard freeze like much of the U.S., which allows for ample forage growth. However, the region experiences nutrition gaps in rainy August, September during hurricane season and in spring when rains tend to slow down.

“Having Accuration® Range Liquid out during the entire year allows us to increase stocking rates because we’re bridging that nutritional gap,” Pearce says.

Heifer development with Brahman-based genetics previously took up to three years. Since incorporating Accuration® Cattle Limiter into their cattle nutrition program, Pearce’s heifers are now calving at 2 years old.
“It has ramped up our expectations. We run our cattle on a lot of leased ground, and Cattle Limiter helped us balance our costs,” Pearce says.

Wind and Rain® Mineral has also taken the worry out of mineral intakes since mineral doesn’t clump or “brick up” when it becomes wet, ideal for Florida’s rainy season.

“We’ve optimized our production by using the Purina products in different ways,” Pearce says. “The technology and research by Purina support our herd’s performance.”

Giving back

Along with his Florida Cattlemen’s Association duties, Pearce also serves on the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association international trade taskforce. He has hosted tours on his ranch to show groups like the Audubon Society how ranching positively impacts wildlife.

“The Florida Cattlemen’s Association and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association have been great networking experiences,” Pearce says. “I’ve met with producers who have similar goals, learned from them and passed it on to others.”

Pearce believes it’s crucial to get involved in a cattle association, no matter if it’s on a national, state or local level.

“Give back to your community through serving in some organizations,” Pearce advises. “I think all cattlemen and cattlewomen need to actively promote their way of life.”

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2 Availa® 4 is a registered trademark of Zinpro Performance Minerals.