5 Facts about Ranching in Nebraska
Nebraska is arguably the poster child of the Great Plains region and the breadbasket of the United States. This is because the state is almost entirely dominated by treeless plains that go on for miles in any direction from any point in the state. It is crossed by several rivers that feed the plains, most notably the Platte River, along with the Ogallala Aquifer.
There are many interesting facts about the agricultural industry of Nebraska, but the Cornhusker State is perhaps most unique in its cattle ranching past. Today, Nebraska ranches are a dominant part of the economy and the state’s culture. The following are a few facts about Nebraska’s ranching industry.
- The Sand Hills
While all of Nebraska plays host to cattle ranching, the majority of Nebraska ranches are located in the Sand Hills region. The region itself makes up the majority of the north-central portion of the state, north of the Platte River and bordered in the west by the state’s panhandle. The region is mostly fed by the Ogallala Aquifer underneath the hills themselves.
The region is geographically unique because it consists of sand dunes—hence the name—that role along the landscape for miles. These dunes are covered in grass, which keeps them in place. The grass makes the area perfect for cattle ranching, as it is fed yearround by the aquifer, which is generally refilled through seasonal rains.
The state’s cattle industry was heavily influenced by the Homestead Act of 1862, which brought a huge influx of settlers into the state. Homesteaders would stake out a plot of land for an exceedingly cheap price, as it was sold by the United States government to encourage settlement in the region.
Despite the success of cattle ranching today, the homesteaders had attempted farming before cattle were brought to the state. The farms generally failed because of the unreliable rainy season, paired with farming methods that did not work in the region’s conditions. Nebraska’s ranches began to pop up as a result of the rich grasslands throughout the state.
- Rodeo Country
A major influence in Nebraska from its cattle industry comes from the popularity of rodeos in the state. While Omaha plays host to a rodeo show for tourists, the state rodeo association holds rodeos in towns throughout the entirety of the state. These rodeos are often paired with other events such as carnivals and livestock shows.
All of these events are meant to showcase the state’s ranching heritage along with its pride in the quality of its cattle and its cowboys.
Nebraska is a state that has been influenced heavily by the Great Plains that cover it in almost its entirety. Despite being named the Cornhusker State, Nebraska’s huge cattle ranching industry is a dominant mainstay of its economy. Nebraska ranches are sure to be a success thanks to the growing demand for beef and the ample availability of land that is suitable for cattle grazing.