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Vaquería, a wild-cattle hunt. Wild cattle by the millions roamed the Pampa during the colonial era. Although it lacked deposits of precious metals, the Río de la Plata became a wealth-producing region thanks to its huge herds of wild cattle and horses. In vaquerías, whether licensed or illegal, gauchos used a hocking blade (desjarretadera) to sever the tendon of a cow's hind leg. Then, after crippling hundreds of animals, the riders returned to slaughter and skin them. Once sun-dried, the hides were ready for export. Vaquerías gradually depleted the number of animals on the pampa. By the mid-eighteenth century, Estancias began to replace these wild-cattle hunts as the primary means of exploiting livestock.

See alsoLivestock; Pampa.


Emilio Coni, Historia de las vaquerías de Río de la Plata (1930).

Madaline Wallis Nichols, The Gaucho (1968), pp. 22-25.

Richard W. Slatta, Cowboys of the Americas (1990), pp. 12-14.

Additional Bibliography

Assunção, Fernando O. Historia del gaucho: El gaucho, ser y quehacer. Buenos Aires: Editorial Claridad, 1999.

                                        Richard W. Slatta

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