A cowman is a person who works specifically with cattle.
Usage of the word "cowman" has significant geographic variation, though is sometimes used interchangeably with terms such as "stockman", "cattleman", "rancher" and "grazier."
In England, where the word cowman originates, the social status of a cowman originally was a minor landowner, a yeoman, rather than a cowherd or herdsman. In medieval Gaelic Ireland a cowman was known as a bóaire and was landed. Today, however, in Great Britain the cowman usually is an employee, synonymous with cowherd. A highly skilled, superior cowman would be equivalent to an American farm or ranch manager, responsible for daily management of the herd. An ordinary cowman would be equivalent to a cowboy in the United States, or a stockman in Australia.
In the United States and Canada, the term "cowman" is used, but is less common than other terms such as "rancher," "cattleman," or "cowboy." It is generally defined as a man who owns cattle, or a rancher. The more common term for a person who owns and works with dairy cattle usually is dairy farmer, while a person with beef cattle is a cattle rancher. Being farmers and ranchers, American cattlemen are generally landowners, though on occasion the terms may include foremen or managers of particularly large operations. The employees of a ranch who work with the livestock may be called cowboys, wranglers, sheepherders, or simply "ranch hands." However, the term"cowman" is occasionally used as a synonym for cowboy.
In popular culture
In the American West there were range wars, conflicts between ranchers and farmers over access to resources, especially water. This is reflected in much of the art, literature, and film in the Western genre. An example is the song "The Farmer and the Cowman" in the musical Oklahoma!
- Neville, Peter (2009). A traveller's history of Ireland (6 ed.). Interlink Books. pp. 18–19. ISBN 1-56656-637-1.
- "Cowman" Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
- "Cowman" The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company
- Upton, Clive; Parry, David; Widdowson, John David Allison (1994). Survey of English dialects: the dictionary and grammar. Psychology Press. pp. 5, 99. ISBN 0-415-02029-8.