the beginning of livestock domestication of sheep and goats in 6,000
B.C., problems of ownership of livestock and regulation for grazing
the public domain have occurred. As numbers of livestock increased,
pastoral customs, grazing regulation and preservation of ownership
problems grew in proportion.
Long before the establishment of stockmen's associations and very
early in the development of civilization, man contrived a rudimentary
scheme of administration to guide the pastoral industry.
The first such
regulations, beginning in 1273, came from the Castilleia stockmen
during the Middle Ages. These meetings were called "mestas" because
most problems attended concerned stray animals called "mezclados"
and their proper ownership.
after the numbers of domesticated livestock increased, the grazing
practice of "transhumance" was instituted. Because of the absence
of fences and in order to plant, grow and harvest crops in the village
areas, all livestock had to be removed to outlying areas and grazed
through the crop-growing months. This removal and return of all
large livestock and poultry required organized community efforts
in the form of roundups, marking and culling of the livestock.
Ranching had always been the major industry in Spain and its conquests.
The expansion of ranching in the Americas is probably the most important
contribution made by the Spaniards.
domination waned and Anglo influence grew, the rancher/stockmen
continued to be at the forefront of the first settlements and civilization
in almost all new areas. Always on the search for "new graze," the
livestock factions met and solved the many problems of the industry.
In spite of being scattered to the four winds, poor communications
and independent logic, the cattle industry often brought the first
law and order, of sorts, to the frontier.
The largest of these livestock groups was the Wyoming Stock Growers
Association formed in 1873, extending into Colorado, Montana, Nebraska
and the Dakotas with more than 400 members. It was so powerful it
was almost an extension of the territorial government, with many
of its early rules becoming the first state laws of the area.
In the Panhandle of
Texas, the first livestock organization was formed in 1880.
Called the Panhandle Stockmen Association, its president was Charles
Goodnight and its vice-president was Henry Cresswell.
They guided early brand registration, the building of drift fences,
trail drive disputes and efforts at preventing cattle theft.
A third worthy Oklahoma association formed in 1883 was called the
Cherokee Strip Livestock Association, which guided the grazing of
Indian Lands, the coming of barbed
wire fences and the end of the Trail Drive Era.
of the cattle groups was the partial outgrowth of these last two
associations. The Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association
was organized in 1877 and is still a major influence today with
many committees covering every phase of the industry.
America owes the early-day cattlemen a vote of thanks for their
continuing search for new graze and the exceptional organizational
efforts carried out under trying conditions, then used in establishing
© Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
October 16, 2007 Column
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