Animal Culture

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Entry Category: Animal Culture

Arkansas Livestock Show Association

The Arkansas Livestock Show Association (ASLA) is the umbrella organization that owns much of the Arkansas State Fair Complex, produces the annual Arkansas State Fair and Livestock Show, and oversees numerous events and activities year round at the fairgrounds on Roosevelt Road in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Arkansas Livestock Show Association has its roots in the Great Depression and its aftermath. By the mid-1930s, Arkansas was still feeling the effects of the Depression, and its economy was in shambles. The state’s only money crop—cotton—was in decline, and farmers were in trouble. In 1937, the University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service (UACES) conducted a study of the state’s resources and concluded that raising livestock would be profitable in the state. A …

Beef Industry

aka: Cattle Industry
The raising of beef cattle has been carried out in Arkansas since before the area became an American territory. Though not as prominent as the state’s poultry industry, the beef industry has an estimated $1.4 billion annual economic impact upon Arkansas. Undomesticated bison were present in Arkansas before the arrival of European explorers and settlers. Both the expedition of Hernando de Soto and the Marquette-Joliet expedition reported the presence of these animals. Frenchmen in the area of Arkansas Post judged the land fit for raising cattle, and a general census of Arkansas Post in 1749 lists sixty cows among the livestock kept there. Early Anglo-American settlers brought cattle with them, as did the Cherokee, who began moving to Arkansas in …

Cattle Drives

Arkansas was the source for many cattle drives westward following the California gold rush, and some later cattle drives cut through Arkansas for points northward. Though a more minor player in the overland transportation of cattle than neighboring Texas, Arkansas was nonetheless significantly affected by these cattle drives. When some Cherokee migrated into Arkansas in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, they drove cattle with them. However, the first major cattle drives organized in Arkansas took place following the discovery of gold in California in 1848, when many Arkansans drove their cattle west in order to meet the increasing need for supplies of the numerous people settling there. As historian J. H. Atkinson notes, “A cow that sold for …

Caviar

Arkansas caviar, which is distributed nationally, consists of eggs from certain freshwater fish caught in the state’s rivers. The commercial fishermen who supply the product to wholesalers generally obtain the eggs from the Arkansas, Mississippi, White, Cache, and St. Francis rivers in eastern Arkansas from late November until early April. The eggs come from paddlefish (commonly referred to in the Arkansas Delta as spoonbill catfish), shovelnose sturgeon, and bowfin. Armenian brothers Melkoum and Mouchegh Petrossian often are credited with popularizing caviar in Paris, France, in the 1920s and spurring a worldwide interest in the product. Paddlefish eggs make up the majority of the Arkansas caviar that is harvested. Paddlefish can be distinguished by their large mouths and elongated snouts, called the rostrum. …

Coleman Dairy

Coleman Dairy in Little Rock (Pulaski County) is the oldest continuously operating dairy by the same family west of the Mississippi River and was listed in 2001 by Family Business Magazine as the seventy-fifth-oldest family business in the United States. Five generations of Colemans have operated the business since its beginning in the early 1860s. Coleman Dairy became a division of Hiland Dairy in 2007. Eleithet B. Coleman founded Coleman Dairy in 1862. Attempting to stay ahead of the Civil War, he brought his family to central Arkansas with a few dairy cows. At the time he started the business, dairymen hauled their raw milk in crocks and poured it into whatever containers were brought out to the delivery wagon …

Dairy Industry

Traditionally, milk has been a staple in the diet of Arkansans, especially the young. Throughout history, dairy farming has been vital to the development of rural communities in Arkansas. Originally, dairy farms were located near population centers where milk was sold. However, since the late 1970s, most of the dairy farms have been located in the northwestern part of the state where rolling terrain was not well-suited for row crops. In Arkansas during the 1800s, milk was produced primarily by home milk cows, and the milk was either used on the farm or was bartered or sold to neighbors. With the movement of the population from the farms to the cities after the Civil War, it became necessary to produce …

Poultry Industry

A staple of the state’s economy, the Arkansas poultry industry first emerged in the 1890s. A century later, Tyson Foods, based in Springdale (Washington County), had become one of the largest agribusiness firms in the United States. Northwest Arkansas, particularly Washington and Benton counties, produces the majority of poultry in Arkansas. The topography of the Ozark highlands—in contrast to the relatively flat eastern half of the state—is well suited to raising chickens. The hilly terrain has historically prevented the widespread cultivation of rice and cotton, which led northwest Arkansas farmers to pursue interests in timber, fruit orchards, and especially poultry. In 1893, Millard Berry of Springdale acquired an incubator with the intent of raising chickens on a large scale. By …

Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary

Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary began with just one horse on five acres of rural land outside Sarasota, Florida, and eventually evolved into an award-winning, 320-acre facility located in Mena (Polk County). Melanie and Jim Bowles, the founders of Proud Spirit, originally earned their livings as professional firefighters for Sarasota County, Florida. In 1990, they purchased a small home on five acres out in the country. A few months later, they decided they had room for a horse and began looking for one to purchase. In their search, they discovered a thoroughbred mare that was being neglected and purchased the horse to get her out of the abusive situation. In 1992, they opened their five acres to more horses in need, …

Snyder, Harold

aka: Ralph Harold Snyder
Ralph Harold Snyder is the man most often credited with bringing the poultry industry to the Arkansas River Valley. In 1960, the company he founded, Arkansas Valley Industries, Inc. (AVI), became the first wholly integrated poultry business to make its stock available to the public. Harold Snyder was born on April 3, 1915, in Winfield, Kansas, to Roy C. and Mildred (Poland) Snyder. As a young boy, he moved with his parents and five siblings to Green Forest (Carroll County), where he was raised on a small hill farm. Snyder was valedictorian of his high school class, and he was elected state president of the Arkansas Future Farmers of America. Based on this record, he received a scholarship to the …

Swine Industry

aka: Pig Industry
aka: Pork Industry
Swine (a.k.a. pigs, Sus scrofa) were first introduced into what is now Arkansas by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541. Since pork can be salted and smoked for preservation, many early settlers used pigs to supply their needs for meat and cooking fat (lard). The widespread production of pigs persisted until commercial refrigeration was introduced in the 1930s and 1940s. At that time, pork became available from more remote sources, and production was more specialized and concentrated on fewer farms. In the mid-1970s, integration of pig production began to occur, with four corporations controlling most of the $84,148,000 of pig sales in 2007. The de Soto expedition had more than 700 pigs when the group was disbanded in …

Texas Tick Fever Eradication

aka: Tick Eradication
aka: Dipping Vats
From 1907 to circa 1943, Arkansas was a participant in the federal tick eradication program for the prevention of Texas tick fever among the state’s cattle herds. Arkansas’s climate and traditional agricultural practices among stockmen in the early twentieth century were perfect for the spread and sustenance of Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) annulatus (also known as the cattle tick), one-host arachnids that completed their life cycle on a single animal. These ticks would acquire protozoan parasites by ingesting the blood of an animal infected with pathogens that destroyed red blood cells. After the engorged tick dropped off the host and laid eggs, the newly hatched ticks would pass the pathogens on by attaching to another host, thus conveying parasitic blood diseases babesiosis …

Tyson Foods, Inc.

Founded in 1935 in Springdale (Washington County), Tyson Foods has emerged as one of Arkansas’s most prominent companies, employing more than 100,000 workers. By the end of the twentieth century, it had become one of the largest meat-processing companies in the world, with millions of customers in the United States and in more than eighty countries worldwide. Forbes magazine currently lists it as one of America’s 100 largest companies, and it continues to play a pivotal role in the state’s economy. Following the collapse of the fruit industry in northwest Arkansas in the late 1920s, many farmers turned to raising poultry as a source of income. The connection of Highway 71 to Midwest markets such as Kansas City, Missouri, allowed …

Tyson, Don

Donald John Tyson was president and CEO of Tyson Foods. By the close of the twentieth century, along with Walmart Inc. founder Sam Walton, Don Tyson was considered one of the pioneers of modern Arkansas economic history, as well as a giant in the global poultry business. At the time of his death in 2011, he was among the richest people in the world, with a personal net worth of $1 billion. Don Tyson was born on April 21, 1930, in Olathe, Kansas, to John Tyson, founder of Tyson Foods, Inc., and Mildred Ernst Tyson. His family resettled in northwest Arkansas in 1931, and Tyson grew up in Springdale (Washington County). He studied at Kemper Military School in Boonville, Missouri, …