High Falutin’ Beef
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“Up Breeding” Cattle


Cows and their calves at Snyder place near Milburn, Nebraska.
Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society, RG2608-2246

In response to this change in taste, ranchers began to "up breed" their herds. But cattle like Hereford and Angus needed more tending than Longhorns did. They needed hay supplied to them in winter. They needed easy access to water. They often needed help calving, and especially during calving, they needed protection from predators. And there were now thousands of them who needed this special care.

"Delicate Cattle" describes these new breeds in western Nebraska. Find out how they fared in the Blizzards of 1886 and 1887 that severely affected the beef industry.
From the 2008 NET Television production Beef State

barbed wire
Barbed wire from the late 1800s.
Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society

Many ranchers left, but others learned how to provide more protection for these delicate new cattle. Barbed wire and windmills allowed ranchers to control their cattle. Fenced pastures allowed ranchers to manage their grasslands and protect hay meadows. Windmills let them put the water where the cattle were, rather than taking the cattle to where the water was.

Over time, the large free-range ranches became the privately-owned, fenced, and managed ranches we know today.

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