Montana Cattle Drive Vacations History: Cattle in America

For many of us, cattle drive vacations and cows seem like a timeless part of the American landscape. But did you know cows are not native to North America? Though bison have traversed the Midwest for thousands of years, cattle are a relatively recent introduction.

Cattle Drive History – Beginnings

Spanish Conquistador Ponce De Leon may have never found the fountain of youth, but he remains the first person to introduce cattle to North America. His legacy can still still be found in the predominantly Spanish bloodlines of central American cattle breeds.

The first cows in America arrived on the ships of Spanish Explorer Ponce De Leon. De Leon was on the search for the mythical fountain of youth, a spring rumored to be located in a golden city deep in the Central American jungle. He also had slightly more pressing work to do, being in the employ of the nation of Spain as a conquistador. His assignment was the establishment of colonies in Puerto Rico, Hispaniola, and Florida. De Leon brought cattle to Florida in 1521. Don Diego Moldonado followed with his own herd in 1540. Many historians postulate feral cattle escaped from these original herds formed the basis of the nascent Florida cattle industry.

Longhorn Cattle Arrive

Longhorn Cattle in the Americas are as old as the discovery of the Americas itself. Christopher Columbus brought a small herd with him on his expedition to Santo Domingo, known today as the Dominican Republic. The breed flourished throughout the Caribbean, eventually making their way to Mexico. These original herds are the basis of the modern Texas Longhorn breed. All Texas Longhorns originate from a herd driven of 200 animals driven north along the Sabine River into Texas country in 1690.

England’s Herefords

In the nineteenth century, new strides in cattle breeding brought on by a more complex understanding of heredity led to the introduction of the Hereford breed. Herefords flourished in their native England. They were renowned for their toughness and fast growth. In 1817, Henry Clay imported a few Herefords to his Kentucky farm. In short order, his herd grew massively and other farmers took notice. The Hereford has gone on to become one of the most ubiquitous cattle breeds in North America.

American Cattle Breeds

Becoming a part of cattle drive history is as easy as booking your cattle drive vacation with Dryhead Ranch. Take a step back in time with an authentic working ranch experience in Montana and Wyoming!

Two unique American cattle breeds found their origins in North America. The Devon was a highly successful English breed that had lived with the first English from the beginning of colonization in the seventeenth century. Over time, its adaptations to the environment found in the colonies led to a divergence producing the American Devon. It is well known as a balanced, hearty breed good for milk, meat, and work. The American Brahman was developed in 1854 from Indian Bos stock. It is a humped, or indicine breed, known to grow to prodigious size.

Step into Montana Cattle Ranch History

Just reading about the way innovative American settlers raised and developed the cattle breeds we know today can only teach you so much about cattle drive history. On a Montana cattle ranch vacation, you can ride beside the cowboys and ranch hands that continue in an American tradition stretching back to Ponce De Leon in 1524. Come be a part of history. Book your Montana cattle drive vacation with Dryhead Ranch today.

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