The first cowboys domesticated the wild auroch, an extinct species of wild cattle, about one hundred centuries ago in the border region between what is now Turkey and Iraq. Form this limited area the species we know as cattle developed over centuries.
Through history, cattle have performed three major tasks for man. Cattle used as draft animals are often referred to as ox or oxen although this term is sometimes used for adult steers or castrated males. For centuries, ox served as the principle means of moving people and freight across long distances because they are heartier than horses or mules.
Cattle also provide sustenance in the form of beef and milk. Two distinct categories of cattle have developed for these purposes. Milk cows , or dairy breeds, have been selectively bred to produce the most and highest quality milk which is harvested for human consumption. Beef cattle have been selectively bred to produce the greatest amount of muscle which is harvested at the slaughter of the animal and used for human consumption.
Another minor usage of cattle is sport. The most common example of this is the bull fighting cattle of Spain and other countries. By products of the livestock industry include leather and horns used for a variety of products.
Cattle arrived in Australia in 1788 with a shipment of six animals. These were used as a foundation for breeding a more extensive herd supplemented with additional imports over time. By 1900, Australia had a cattle industry of nearly 9 million head. Cattle continue to play a major part in the agricultural economy of the country.
Cattle are one of the most efficient ways to convert grass, which is not edible by humans, to edible foods such as beef, milk and cheese. Cattle often graze the grass growing on lands not suitable for cultivation for crops such as corn or wheat. By this process, the cattle industry produces food from what would be wastelands.