By Warren M. Elofson
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Extra info for Cowboys, Gentlemen, and Cattle Thieves: Ranching on the Western Frontier
Fm Page 19 Thursday, August 3, 2000 7:02 PM An Industry Overview 19 to purchase substantial amounts of their lands at favourable rates. 80 The directors of three of the four big ranches, as well as a host of others, took advantage of these opportunities, and by early in the new century their spreads, though considerably reduced in size, were still very large by industry standards. And the owners were more secure and better insulated from political interference than they had ever been. 81 As these were based more on freehold tenure and private ownership than lease, the ranchers had little to fear from future government legislation.
Because in the early years cattle were left to wander on the open range, it was extremely difficult for owners, managers, and cowhands to get a clear estimate of the number, quality, and weight of their herds. It seems astounding to the modern rancher that the Walrond went for years without ever taking a thorough count of the livestock. Dividends were paid on estimated rather than actual values which were often inaccurate. For instance, in the 1890s the management estimated death losses at 5 per cent per year.
Fm Page 29 Thursday, August 3, 2000 7:06 PM Old World and New 29 Horse round-up on H2 ranch on Little Bow River near Gleichen, Alberta (ca. 29 Breed selection in the American West had been virtually impossible to control because, on the open range, all sorts of bulls were afforded access to all manner of females. S. Texas … arrived at Halifax with the largest consignment of cattle ever brought into Canada. ”32 Along with purebred Hereford, Angus, and Shorthorn cattle, the Cochrane imported less well-known Sussex33 and Galloway34 breeds in the search for a hardy type suited to the harsh northwestern environment.