Maggie is the only cow left on the Dixon Ranch after Alameda Slim (a cattle rustler capable of stealing 500 cows in a single night) stole all the rest of Dixon's cattle. Mr. Dixon sells Maggie to Pearl, a kind and elderly woman who runs a small dairy farm called Patch of Heaven.
The local Sheriff arrives to tell Pearl that her bank is cracking down on debtors. Pearl has three days to pay the bank $750, or her farm will be sold to the highest bidder. Hearing this, Maggie convinces the other cows on the farm (Grace, a happy-go-lucky character, and Mrs. Calloway, who has had leadership gone to her head) to go to town to attempt winning prize money at a fair and met her new friends there.
While the cows are in town, a bounty hunter named Rico (whom Buck, the Sheriff's horse, idolizes) drops a criminal off and collects the reward. Stating he needs a replacement horse to go after Alamida Slim while his own horse rests, he borrows Buck. When Maggie find out that the reward for capturing Slim is of exactly $750, she convinces the other cows to try and capture him to save Patch of Heaven.
That night, they hide among a large heard of steers, when Alameda Slim appears. Before any of them can do anything, Slim beings a yodeling song which sends all the cattle (except Grace, who is tone deaf) into a trance that causes them to dance madly and follow Slim anywhere. Luckily, Grace is able to bring Maggie and Mrs. Calloway back to their senses by letting the wagon go down to them just before Slim closes the path behind him with a rockslide to stop Rico and his men from chasing him.
As Rico discusses with his men what his next move will be, Buck starts talking with Maggie, Grace, and Mrs. Calloway as old friends and miming actions. This causes Rico to believe Buck is frightened by cows, and sends Buck back to the Sheriff. Buck escapes, determined to capture Slim for himself to prove his worth. Maggie, Grace, and Mrs. Calloway are left behind, but they meet a peg-legged rabbit named Lucky Jack, who leads them to the Slim's hideout mine.
At the mine, Slim reveals that he has been stealing all cattle from his former patrons. When his former patrons can't support their land anymore, he buys the land when it is auctioned off, under the guise of the respectable-looking Mr. O'delay, using the very money he gets from selling the cattle he stole.
After arriving to Slim's hideout, the cows capture Slim. They run off with Slim's accomplices and buyer in pursuit on a steam train. Rico arrives. When the chase stops, Rico is revealed to work for Slim.
Slim dons his Yancy O'del costume and leaves the cows stranded in the middle of the desert with the train, while he goes to attend the auction. However, the cows arrive using the train to the farm and expose Slim. Slim is arrested by the police, and Patch of Heaven is saved by the reward money.
A few weeks pass, and at the county fair most of the livestock on Patch of Heaven have won prizes. 'Lucky' Jack Rabbit moves in with Jebb the Goat, and two steer and Slim's charming and gentlemanly steed Junior the Buffalo arrive unexpectedly to live at Patch of Heaven, expanding the farm.
Home on the Range was originally conceived as a supernatural western titled Sweatin' Bullets. In this version of the film, Alameda Slim and the Willie Brothers were a gang of ghostly rustlers who plotted to kill various herds of cattle in revenge for having been trampled to death years before. The one thing standing in their way was a brave young calf and Lucky Jack, a rabbit who's foot was stolen by Slim years ago. It was most likely changed due to the villains origins being trampled by cattle/buffalo may have went to a very high PG or even a PG-13 rating due to a possible chance of blood being shown.
Similar to how Kingdom of the Sun became The Emperor's New Groove, the film was entirely reworked into a comedy, going with a 50's UPA inspiration for the character design. Although it was originally considered to be the last traditionally animated film to have been released by Disney, (as the studio would be switching to CGi animation), the medium would make a comeback for 2009's The Princess and the Frog. The film had finished production before Brother Bear.
- Roseanne Barr as Maggie
- Judi Dench as Mrs. Calloway
- Jennifer Tilly as Grace
- Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Buck
- Randy Quaid as Alameda Slim
- Charles Dennis as Rico
- Charles Haid as Lucky Jack
- Carole Cook as Pearl Gesner
- Joe Flaherty as Jeb
- Steve Buscemi as Wesley
- Richard Riehle as Sheriff Sam Brown
- Lance LeGault as Junior the Buffalo
- G. W. Bailey as Rusty
- Patrick Warburton as Patrick
- Estelle Harris as Audrey
- Sam J. Levine as The Willie Brothers (speaking)
While the film has earned mixed reviews from critics (according to a 54% rating the film has earned on Rotten Tomatoes), it was (and still is) despised by the Disney animation press and fanbase, being considered both one of the worst animated films of all-time and debated against Chicken Little and/or The Black Cauldron as the worst film of the Disney canon; though The Black Cauldron has the larger number of defenders.
- This was the third-to-last traditionally animated feature in the Disney animated feature canon, followed by The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh.
- This is one of the two posters along with Disney's live-action hockey film Miracle to be seen from the episode, Opposites Attract: Part 1 on ABC's 8 Simple Rules.
- According to the trailer, Maggie originally fed a piggie an apple from a barrel. This was likely a work-in-progress footage, because in the final version, Maggie pulled the apple out of the piggie's ear.
- This had the last trailer to be narrated by Mark Elliot.
- This is Alan Menken's only project in the Post Renaissance era (aka, The Second Disney Dark Age). His next project, Tangled, was released in the Revival.
- This is the last animated movie from Disney to use the 1.66:1 aspect ratio.
- Hence its critical and commercial reception (see 'Reception' above), this film is often accused for putting traditional hand-drawn animation out of business in North America's cinema industry. However, traditional animation is actually still thriving in some European countries and Japan; mostly due to the popularity of both Cartoon Saloon's The Secret of Kells and Song of the Sea and various anime shows, particularly in Japan's case. That, and the actual reason why traditional animation isn't as common anymore is due to the fact that films like this have failed to achieve the same critical and commercial success as the computer-animated films from Pixar and DreamWorks (that were considered innovative for their time), which in turn, has convinced the industry (even Disney) that hand-drawn animated films are no longer that worth producing, if they will not turn out as popular as more superior computer-generated films, in terms of success and reception.
- (You Ain't) Home On The Range - Chorus
- Little Patch of Heaven - k.d. lang
- Yodel-Adle-Eedle-Idle-Oo - Randy Quaid and Chorus
- Will The Sun Ever Shine Again? - Bonnie Raitt
- (You Ain't) Home On The Range - Echo Mine Reprise - Chorus
- Wherever The Trail May Lead - Tim McGraw
- Anytime You Need A Friend - The Beu Sisters
- Cows In Town/Saloon Song (Score)
- On The Farm (Score)
- Bad News (Score)
- Storm And The Aftermath (Score)
- Cows To The Rescue (Score)
- Buck (Score)
- My Farm Is Saved/Little Patch of Heaven(Reprise) (Score)
- Anytime You Need a Friend - Alan Menken