A cattle ranch is a farm that breeds and raises cattle. A cattle ranch can be established on as few acres but can also be built on hundreds of acres if this amount of land is available. This can be quite diverse regarding the purpose of breeding cattle. It could be for consumption, trade, cattle shows and fairs, and milk production.
Here is a glimpse into what you need to plan for in how to start a cattle ranch.
1. Research and write a business plan
To start any kind of farm or ranch, research beforehand and write a business plan. To start a cattle ranch, it’s as much about learning how to work with cattle as it is about being an entrepreneur and making decisions, such as how to manage startup costs and ongoing costs, who the target market is for your products, and what business name or brand you intend to assign your ranch.
2. Continually build your knowledge base
New cattle ranch owner is encouraged to learn as much as they can about what it is to farm cattle. From learning how to manage the land and what to do with manure to how to care for cattle, how to control parasites and diseases, and how to use cattle waterers and other equipment, there is always something to learn as it pertains to caring for cattle, the land, and how to make your cattle ranch better and more profitable.
3. Plan to manage the costs of a cattle ranch
A cattle ranch requires significant capital to get started. You must maintain the land with grazing, pasturing, vegetation, and climate management. You also require homestead fencing, watering facilities or cattle waterers, tools and equipment, cattle shelter, and the cost of purchasing the cattle.
4. Define precisely how you’re going to make money
Revenue is important unless you want to start a cattle ranch only to have to shut it down. How your cattle ranch is to generate income is a matter you have to decide. Many cattle ranches offer additional services beyond selling cattle. What you sell and how you make money will be tied to how much land you own, your geographic location, and the cattle you raise.
5. Ways you can make money with a cattle ranch
A cattle ranch can make money by producing processed milk products, beef processing and packaging, breeding services, offering farm tours, hosting classes such as butchering or cooking classes on-site, selling cowhide, showing cows at local events and fairs, and selling additional food items or raising other livestock. Consider what is within your means to earn revenue.
6. Form your cattle ranch as a business and do the paperwork
There is a lot on the business side of things to do when starting a cattle ranch. Registering your cattle ranch as a corporation with the government and obtaining a business number. Registering to pay taxes. Opening up a business bank account for personal asset protection. Defining how you’re going to do your business accounting. Obtaining business insurance. These are all necessary steps to getting a cattle ranch business.
7. Keep records updated, accurate, and complete
Your recordkeeping skills and organization will mean everything when you enter a cattle ranch business. Maintain accurate, complete records on purchases, finances, sales, assets, breeding, calving, and vaccinations. These records will ensure your cattle receive the care they deserve and that your expense-to-income ratio is where you want it to be.
8. Hiring a crew and a team to support your cattle ranch
A cattle ranch is a big venture; you can’t do everything yourself. A cattle ranch owner on a medium-sized farm will typically hire 15-20 staff members to help them oversee everything. During peak times, seasonal workers are also brought in temporarily. Beyond the team you need for the size of your farm, there are also external stakeholders you will want ongoing relationships with, including a feed representative, a veterinarian, and others.
9. Investing the time every day to get your cattle ranch going
When you start a cattle ranch, time and effort are everything. The average cattle ranch day begins at 6 AM when you and your crew hit the field to herd cattle to bring them to a new field for grazing. This can take hours, depending on how many cows you have and the size of your ranch.
Afterward, the land must be fertilized, inventory done, and recordkeeping is done. There is no shortage of work on any given day to ensure your cattle ranch is successful.
10. Make plans for developments that are out of your control
A cattle ranch relies on a lot to be successful, and sometimes events transpire that are totally out of one’s control and will eat into your ranch’s profitability or interfere with operations. Poor weather conditions. New government regulations or policies. An economic downturn. A global pandemic. Have a plan and be ready to act in the face of difficult times to keep your cattle ranch afloat and supported until conditions change.