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Where does ranching originate from?

Have you ever thought about where ranching comes from? Well, according to the National Geographic, ranching dates all the way back to 1000 CE. It is true that people raised livestock during the Middle Ages, however, this was usually only in small numbers and on small areas of land. It was not until later years that the practice of raising large herds of stock on much larger plots of land began in Spain and Portugal. In fact, the word ranch comes from the Spanish word rancho. Some of the methods used by Spanish and Portuguese ranchers in 1000 CE are still being used today, for example, cattle drives and using horses for herding. 

Spain and Portugal aren’t countries typically associated with ranching, in fact, places like California or Texas are usually what come to mind. So you might be asking yourself how this method travelled all the way from the Mediterranean to America? According to the Bullock Museum, we have Christopher Columbus to thank. In 1493, Christopher Columbus made his second trip to Hispaniola and brought with him the first Spanish cattle. The first cattle raising that began in Texas was in the Rio Grande Valley. By the year 1680, there were thousands of cattle recorded in the El Paso region. Spanish missionaries were the earliest of the cattle ranches and by the 18th century they were joined by private ranches. Eventually the Spanish missions in Texas were no longer considered a necessity and were closed. However, the cattle they brought with them survived and multiplied. 

California also has a long history of cattle ranching. The Spanish missions of the 1700’s were also set up in California and by 1834 California’s missions operated herds at an estimated 40,000 cattle a herd. Today there are 38 million acres of land used for ranching and grazing in the state. There is no doubt cattle ranching has been an important part of California’s economic and social fabric since it was first established in 1700. 

The ranching industry has grown immensely since its origin in 1700. In the US alone the cattle ranching industry is worth approximately $68 billion annually. 

If you have any questions or queries about ranch real estate in Northern California or any of our ranch property listings, do not hesitate to contact us here or by phone, on 530-949-4241.

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