Southwest Florida Cowboy Culture Lives and Here’s How


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, May 31st, 2016 – Much of the rangelands and pastures in Manatee and Sarasota have given way to residential and commercial property developments, but cattle ranching and the cowboy culture associated with it remains alive and well in the Southwest Florida region and still actively contributing to its eclectic lifestyle.

Some 50 working ranches, by one estimate, still operate in East Manatee though most beef producers in the region could only raise 100 head of cattle or fewer. Still, there are some large-scale operations such as Schroeder-Manatee Ranch (SMR) and Blackbeard’s Ranch. The Manatee County Cattlemen’s Association remains robust too with its roster of 100 members. Notably, eight of the top 20 Florida cow-calf operations are said to be in Manatee, which account for an estimated 70,000+ head of cattle raised in the Sunshine State.

How Ranchers Cope

Southwest Florida Cowboy Culture Lives and Here’s How

There are several reasons why the ranchers’ operations have remained viable despite the ever-decreasing areas available for their herds. One is consolidation wherein cattlemen with smaller herds entered partnership agreements with other ranchers.

Advances in the cattle industry also helped. SMR, for instance, shifted to seeding pastures with the type of grass that enabled high-quality foraging, which resulted in lowering the feeding ratio to one acre per head of cattle from five previously.

Besides adapting to smaller acreages, cattle raisers like the 5,900-acre Blackbeard’s Ranch are turning to diversification. For instance, Blackbeard’s owner, Jim Strickland, is also harvesting excess palm trees for sale to property developers. His ranch which borders the Myakka State Park also regularly hosts hunter-jumper courses for horse riders. Strickland also hopes to open a lodge and run it as an ecotourism destination where guests can experience living in a working ranch.

Myakka’s Cowboy Country

For those who want to permanently live in such a setting, Myakka City in East Manatee County provides “country living at its finest.” Myakka offers an affordable option for aspiring buyers of Sarasota homes for sale seeking touches of the cowboy lifestyle. The average home price here in early 2016 has been estimated at $285,000, and residential sites are quite spacious, with choices starting at one-acre plus. These large home lots, plus the open, undeveloped land in Myakka, make this locality perfect for raising not only horses and cattle but also other farm animals.

Many of the residences in Myakka are of one-story, cinder block construction. Also popular in the area are “cracker-style” homes which feature spacious porches that in most dwellings wrap around the entire house.

Some Rare Offerings

Listings of available properties in Myakka are relatively few in the MLS of Sarasota homes for sale, and new listings seldom come by. A pair of new listings though was entered in May 2016 at the community of Saddlebag Creek. Both have quoted prices in the $500s, featuring square footages in the 2,500‒2,700 range.

Besides their attractive pricing and quiet countryside setting, Myakka homes for sale can likewise draw buying interest from various local attractions, such as nearby venues for shopping, dining and physical fitness. Myakka residents can as easily access the life and leisure hubs of Lakewood Ranch, University Town Center, Sarasota, and Bradenton.

Quite apropos, ranchers’ participation often comes amongst the highlights in the special events held regularly in these lifestyle centers. For instance, the Manatee County Cattlemen Association will host a hoedown dance and music extravaganza in the “It Works! Green Carpet” event that the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau will hold July 2016 to drum up local summer attractions that certainly retains much of Florida’s cowboy charm.