By: Peggy Schnell, Casey McMahan, Sarah Parr, and Morgan Blasi
Some of the Domesticated Animals that were brought from the Old World to the New World

The Columbian Exchange was not only limited to the exchange of plants but animals as well. The introduction of animals, especially cattle and pigs from the Old to New World, brought many diseases and led to the domestication of animals. The horse created a new form of mobility for Native Americans and Spaniards that allowed them to hunt many wild animals and discover more of the West.

Bringing domesticated animals, such as horses, cows, and pigs from the old world to the new world, drastically impacted the daily lives of those in the new world. These animals revolutionized the way of living that the natives had adhered to for so long. Domesticated animals provided new work forces, new food sources, and helped to form the landscape of the Americas that we live in today. They had never really considered using animals to do strenuous work, other than some American Indians or Incas using dogs or llamas to pull small loads, so this prospect was strange to them at first. This new idea to use animals,such as cows and horses, for labor- intensive work, drastically reduced the time and energy that the natives had exerted for many years to complete daily tasks, such as transporting goods to other parts of their towns. Pigs were another domesticated animal that greatly changed the lives of those in America. The population of these animals largely increased upon their arrival in the Americas. In 1539, Hernando DeSoto brought 13 pigs with him from Europe. Three years later, the population of the pigs had already rose to over 700. These animals provided a constant source of protein to both immigrants and natives. Many grazing animals, such as horses and sheep, became wild after a few generations and transformed the land that the natives had called home for many years. The animals ate practically everything in sight because the native plants had not yet evolved to survive with grazing animals. Weeds from the old world sprouted in their place, and still are widespread in the Americas today.
This is a picture of a Native American infected with disease.

The animal domestication thought to be beneficial, turned out to be a disaster. The domestication of animals led to the spread of disease from the lack of sanitation. People back then were not aware of diseases and where they actually came from. They did not about microorganisms could mutate into a form, causing disease in
Chart of the decline of Native Americans during and after the Columbian Exchange
Chart of the decline of Native Americans during and after the Columbian Exchange
humans called zoonotic. The major diseases that developed from domesticating animals were pox, plague, and influenza. Europeans, along with Asians and Africans were more susceptible to disease, due to the fact that they had a larger number of domestic animals. Even though Europeans, Asians, and Africans had a natural immunity to smallpox, the disease still killed nearly 60 million people over the span of the 18th century. The disease spread did not only stop in the New World, but the Old as well because when slave traders returned to Europe, they brought back yellow fever and maybe syphilis. Yet, the population destruction was nowhere near the loss in the New World.

The exchange of horses from the Old World to the New World helped the Native Americans be more nomadic by allowing them to carry all of their belongings across long distances. At first, the Native Americans viewed the horse as a fearsome war beast that trampled their vegetation and land, but they soon learned to ride and raise horses themselves. The Native Americans' new edition of the horse transformed the way they lived in the New World, especially in Mexico, where there were uncountable numbers of wild horses. In less than a century, horses ranged all the way from Canada to Mexico and were a common way of mobility. This new way of transportation led the Native Americans, Spaniards, and other Europeans through Western America. The time and energy that the Native Americans exerted to hunt animals, such as buffaloes, was minimized greatly because of the introduction of horses. Many Native American groups began to leave their farming lifestyles to become nomads that hunted these animals, which led to decreases in the populations of animals that originated in the Americas. These decreases were a result of older animals now being hunted for food and also Europeans from the Old World bringing animals recently introduced to them back with them to Europe. Over time, the Americas continued to become more similar to Europe, all because of the introduction of horses and their ways of transportation.
Native Americans hunting buffalo
Native Americans hunting buffalo


Jones, Malcom JR. "When the Horse Came." EBSCO Host. Newsweek, 1 Sept. 1991. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. < 43a2-913e-bc891bc702fd%40sessionmgr113&vid=5&hid=15>.
This website was useful because it gave us information on and helped us to learn about putting animals to work, and it specifically told us about the horse and how its popularity quickly spread in the New World.

Laycock, George and Ellen. How the Settlers Lived. Colorado: D. Mckay, 1980. Print.
This website helped us understand how the Native Americans originally feared some of the animals introduced to them and how they worked with the horses.

Stearns, Peter N., Et Al. World Civilizations: The Global Experience. AP Ed., 5th Ed. ed. N.p.: Pearson Education, 2007. Print.
This textbook was helpful because it gave us a list of animals that were transported from the Old to New World and included examples of the newly introduced livestock's successes in the the New World.

"The Indian Homeland." EBSCO Host. EBSCO Industries, Inc., 8 July 1991. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. <>.
This site was helpful because it helped us find out information about the pigs and their population growth.

Walbert, David. "5.3 Disease and Catastrophe." Disease and Catastrophe. Learn NC, 2008. Web. 24 September 2012. <>.
This website was useful to us because it listed major diseases and gave the number of people killed by disease.

"World History to 1500." : Domesticating Animals and Disease. Blogger, 31 Aug. 2010. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. <>.
This website was useful because it gave us a list of animals that caused disease and how disease spread.

Primary Sources:

Goodwin, Mary R. M. "Eighteenth Century Fairs." Colonial Williamsburg: Digital LIbrary. Colonial Williamsburg, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. <>.
This website was useful to us because it talked about domestication and the Columbian Exchange in many different ways.

Tinker, George E. "The Osage: A Historical Sketch." American Native Press Archives and Sequoyah Research Center. American Native Press Archives and Sequoyah Research Center, n.d. Web. 26 Sept. 2012. <>.
This website was useful to us because it talked about domestication and the Columbian Exchange from many aspects.