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 and in Latin 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 buffalo 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" and anyone could turn cattle loose on them. Barbed wire, invented in 1869, gradually made inroads in fencing off privately-owned land, especially for homesteads, and ranching became limited to lands of little use for arable farming.
Ranching forms part of the iconography of Western Film.
- 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
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