For the most part there were no fences in the old west. At most board fences by the barns to keep some horses or a feeder steer intended for meat. Ranchers controlled fairly large areas of land. Some by directly owning it and usually quite a bit more by using it for grazing their livestock and making improvements over time. The unowned land, government land, used by several ranches would overlap because of the lack of fences but that was worked out between them.
The stock was watched and kept within a manageable boundary by the cowboys that worked for the ranches. Often they stayed in “line shacks”, small shacks located at farther reaches of the ranch. They would be stocked with food, coffee and other necessities and if a ranch hand was working at the far reaches of the ranch he would just stay at a line shack for a night or two. Cowboys who worked for a neighboring ranch were allowed to use each other's shacks if they were working in the area or caught in a storm.