Ranching is the raising of cattle or sheep on rangeland, although one might also speak of ranching with regard to less common livestock such as elk, bison or emu. It is a usage of the Western United States, Canada and Latin America.
Historically, there was a period on the Frontier after the removal of the buffalo and the Native Americans and before the coming of the homesteaders when ranching was the dominant activity. The public lands on the Great Plains were open range and anyone could turn cattle loose on them. Barbed wire, invented in 1869, was gradually employed to fence off privately-owned land especially by homesteaders and ranching became limited to lands of little use for farming.
Ranching is part of the iconography of Western Film.