The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







This article is about ranching. For ranch, see ranch disambiguation.

Ranching is the raising of cattle or sheep on rangeland, although one might also speak of ranching with regard to less common livestock such as elk, bison or emu. The word applies in the western United States, in Canada, Latin America and South America. (Australian usage would refer to ranches as "stations"; New Zealanders use the term "runs".)

Historically, during a period on the Frontier in North America after the removal of the American bison and the Native Americans and before the coming of the homesteaders, ranching dominated economic activity. The public lands on the Great Plains consisted of "open range," where anyone could turn cattle loose for grazing. Barbed wire, invented in 1869, gradually made inroads in fencing off privately-owned land, especially for homesteads. Ranching became limited to lands of little use for arable farming.

Ranching forms part of the iconography of the Western in motion pictures.

Ranching Companies

Further Reading

  • Breaking Clean, Judy Blunt, Knopf, 2002, hardcover, ISBN 0375401318
  • This Was Cattle Ranching: Yesterday and Today, Virginia Paul, Superior Publishing Company, Seattle, Washington, 1973
  • Heart-Diamond Kathy L. Greenwood, University of North Texas Press, 1989, hardback, ISBN 0-929398-08-4

Last updated: 08-15-2005 23:24:17
Last updated: 08-19-2005 05:46:22