Cattle (singular “a head of cattle”; referred to also as cows, steers, and bovine specimens) direct the majority of gameplay in Cattle Rustling. At the beginning of a round, a number of cattle (specifically, three cattle for each player participating in the match) are placed across the board. Just like steam wreckage or enemy ground units, cattle function as obstacles, impeding units’ movement. However, unlike other obstacles, cattle possess limited locomotive capabilities, as they are liable to reposition themselves if units or trains move onto squares adjacent to their own (an action referred to as herding).
At the beginning of each round, all cattle are unclaimed (awarding no points to any player). Cattle are claimed, or “branded”, by a player when a square adjacent to their own is moved onto by that player’s big shot. All cattle a player’s big shot moves next to are simultaneously claimed by that player, regardless of whether the cattle were previously aligned with another player. However, cattle are only claimed when a big shot moves next to them – cattle that move onto squares adjacent to big shots are not branded. Branded head of cattle award fifty points to the player controlling them, plus an additional point for each tick the head of cattle remains under that player’s control. If a player loses control of a head of cattle, the fifty points for controlling it are deducted, but points awarded for each tick the head of cattle was controlled are not removed.
A head of cattle’s current alignment is indicated by a disk underneath it, the color of which changes to represent the color of the player controlling that head of cattle (unbranded cattle have no disk).
Though only big shots can brand cattle, all units (and trains) are capable of herding them. Herding is useful in manipulating cattle, so as to prevent enemies from branding them, or to facilitate one's own big shot in reaching them. Cattle are rather unpredictable, but tend to move away from units that herd them, and are redirected by terrain features and most obstacles (cattle’s movement is typically obstructed by units, but when blocked on multiple sides cattle sometimes move “through” ground units’ squares). Cattle move anywhere from zero to five tiles when herded.