Cattle Industry

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  • Created on: 03-05-14 15:31
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  • Cattle Industry
    • In the beginning
      • Just like horses, cattle were brought over to America by European invaders.
      • Cattle ranching became big in Texas by the 1850s.
      • With the harsh weather, sometimes it was difficult for all the cattle to survive.
        • However, the Texas longhorns developed from the original Spanish imports and they could survive on the open range on Texas.
          • But their quality of meat wasn't very good.
      • The price for meat rose in the 1850s as meat became a popular food.
      • The American Civil War then took place and the cattle ranchers were part of the losing Confederate side.
        • They returned to their cattle and they had grown, it was estimated that in 1865 there were roughly five million cattle in Texas.
          • This was because they didn't sell any during the time of the American Civil War
    • The need for cattle drives
      • Despite being able to survive the harsh winters, the Texas Longhorn carried a disease called Texas fever, which was spread by the ticks that lived on the cattle.
        • So when they went to be sold, the homesteaders would turn them away, scared that their cattle would get the disease and die.
          • Therefore, the owners couldn't make their money.
      • Cattle could provide many people with food. As Charles Goodnight and Oliver Loving found out.
        • To begin with, Goodnight had a heard of around 180 cattle in 1860, however, after returning from the Civil War he had 5000 cattle.
          • In 1866 him and Loving drove a herd to Fort Sumner, New Mexico and sold their cattle to feed the army and to feed the Indians on their reservations.
            • The US army ended up buying between 50,000 and 60,000 cattle in order to distribute rations onto the various Indian reservations.
              • However, the Eastern people provided the biggest profits, but there was no way of getting East without travelling over homesteaders land, until the transcontinental railroad was built.
                • In 1866, cattle were driven from Texas to Sedalia, a town on the railroad, by using the transcontinental railroad.
            • The army, miners and railroad companies were also good business.
    • Cow Towns
      • The Chicago cattle dealer, Joseph McCoy saw a chance to develop the use of the transcontinental railroad for selling cattle.
      • So in 1867, just a year after the development of cattle drives, the first cattle town was developed in Abilene.
      • The cattle were driven from Texas to Abilene and then shipped East on the railroad to be slaughtered then sold. There were great profits to be made, sometimes 10 times the amount.
    • Cattle Drives
      • The cattle drives took place in the summer where the cattle would be driven from Texas to the cow towns for sale.
      • Alongside the great profits came dangers. There were natural disasters and the chance of Indian attacks.
        • Oliver Loving was killed in 1867 due to wound from an Indian party.
    • Early ranchers
      • As the homesteaders spread over across the West, it made it difficult for cattlemen to drive cattle northwards as the cattle weren't allowed to cross the land of the homesteaders
      • They were successful because:
        • The Plains Indians were defeated and had to go onto reservations.
        • The  land that was previously taken up by buffalo had been slaughtered.
        • It was discovered that if Texas longhorns were held on the northern plains during the winter then the cold would kill the disease-carrying ticks.
        • The railroads that were crossing the Plains were able to take the cattle to market.
      • Experiments in cattle breeding from the 1870s enables the Texas Longhorns to be interbred with other cattle that had better quality meat.
    • The 'open range'
      • They didn't fence off their land off so there were sometimes disputes over who's land it was.
      • Each range needed a water supply, it was the water shed that often split up th land. At the centre of the ranch was were the cowboys would live in a building.
    • The end of the 'open range'
      • The period between 1880 and 1885 was the peak period for ranching on the Plains. It was seen as a sure way to make money.
      • The price for cattle rose, so cattle ranchers put more cattle on their land. so when the drought of 183 came, the grass, that was already in short supply, withered.
      • At the same time, the demand for beef in the East began to fall so, therefore, the prices also dropped.
      • The final blow was the winter between 1886 and 1887 when thousands of cattle died in icy blizzards and freezing cold. The Johnson County War made the problems worse.
        • Many ended up going bankrupt and the open range was replaced by smaller ranchers which were fenced off using barbed wire. This kept out competition and cut labour costs by preventing animals from straying.


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