The cattle were the underlying reason for Gil and Rowdy to get involved with the people they encountered. The cows were also the main consideration for when they moved, stopped, watered, and rested. They had to be kept fit and healthy. Each of those cows had a personality (sort of like how every cowhide rug is unique as well!) —even though none of them got billing on the marquee.
When I think about the series Rawhide now, I think about rugs, pillows, and décor. Just imagine how many rooms I could decorate with the hides of those three thousand cattle on that imaginary drive. Oh, yes. What do you want to bet Clint Eastwood has a cowhide rug in his man cave? And probably of picture of himself as Rowdy Yates, too.