The History of New Mexico Ranching

The state of New Mexico is very well known for its ranching industry. Like neighboring Texas, New Mexico has been host to many cattle drives of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, this history is alive and well, and people looking to buy New Mexico ranches will find themselves immediately immersed in the great New Mexico ranching culture.

The History of New Mexico Ranching.jpg

Spanish America

Like most of the Southwest, New Mexico was first colonized by the Spanish before it became part of the United States. The Spanish influence is particularly present in New Mexico, being shown in the hacienda-style ranch houses that take advantage of New Mexico’s specific climate. In addition, cattle ranching became prominent during this period when the Spanish colonial government encouraged immigrants to move to the area to settle the vast amount of available land.


Fast-forward two hundred years from Spanish colonial America to the nineteenth century. During this time, sheep herds became prominent in both Native American reserves and among those ranchers who colonized the area centuries before. Areas in Eastern New Mexico, which was effectively part of the Great Plains region of the United States, began to be heavily colonized.

The Homestead Act particularly affected the settlement of the region by United States citizens and immigrants who sought land for new agricultural opportunities. The ranches that were set up during this time period paved the way for New Mexico’s ranching culture today. Sheep herding was still the prominent industry, thanks to the demand for mutton and wool, and in fact, a whole new crossbreed of sheep was created in the state to adapt to the hot climate.

Cattle Drives

By the end of the century, there was a huge movement to take advantage of the growing beef industry and demand for leather. The growing cattle industry eventually supplanted the established sheep industry throughout many areas of the state. In fact, if you are looking to buy New Mexico ranches today, you are most likely expecting to start investing in the cattle industry, although that is not the sole livestock in New Mexico today.

Overall, the decades surrounding the huge cattle drives had a lasting effect on the state’s culture and identity, especially its association with the cowboy culture of the time. In addition, the mixture of Spanish and Native American influence gave New Mexico its own personal touches that are part of everything from the architecture to the cuisine. Upon moving to New Mexico, you will immediately notice the pride that New Mexicans have for their unique fusion culture

Ranching in New Mexico

As this short overview of New Mexico’s history shows, the ranching industry has been an integral part of the state’s identity for centuries since colonization. When you buy a New Mexico ranch, you are making yourself a part of that history by keeping it alive today. You will be proud to be a part of New Mexico’s cultural history, and actively working to keep it alive in the modern world.


Posted on March 25, 2017, in Ranches for Sale. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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