Caring for wildlife is good for game herds and good for ranches

Large western ranches are more than just fenced-off livestock operations. Ranchers are stewards of some of the most important game habitat in the country. 

Big spreads in the Rockies – including some ranches for sale now – serve to safeguard important year-round range. Mule deer, elk and pronghorn don’t honor property lines or political boundaries. How a ranch is managed, though, can impact how these game animals move around over the course of the year. 

Conscientious ranchers understand that part of their job includes ensuring wildlife can move safely through their land as animals migrate to and from winter and summer ranges. 

When managed correctly, wildlife will thrive and prosper on the ranch. And, a healthy wildlife population makes for a more valuable property when it comes time to list a ranch for sale. 

Herds don’t stay put 

Over the course of the year, big-game herds like deer, elk and pronghorn move around quite a bit. In summer, these animals are in high-elevation meadows and on warm, south-facing hillsides where the browse is good. Ofen, this habitat is on U.S. Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management property. 

As fall approaches and the rut begins, the animals start to move into lower-elevation habitats. Post rut, deer and elk migrate down even farther, joining pronghorns on the sage-brush steppes and open hillsides. 

This important winter range is often on private ranch lands. It’s here where the management work done by ranch real estate owners can be beneficial to the region’s game herds. 

Freedom to migrate 

Deer, elk and pronghorn use a lot of habitat. It’s important to ranchers who understand the value of having health game populations on their spread to ensure the animals can reasonably move about.

For this reason, wise ranchers will construct wildlife-friendly fences that don’t impede deer, elk or pronghorn. Some ranchers will even install extra gates or use lay-down fences that can be dropped when livestock are moved closer to home in the winter. 

Fencing is among the most important considerations for ranchers when it comes to safeguarding the herds that use their land. Giving big-game herds the freedom to reach both winter and summer ranges is vital. 

Feed crops can improve habitat – and value 

For investors considering ranches for sale, wildlife and healthy wildlife habitat is high on the priority list. And for ranchers who love to hunt, or have incorporated hunting into a ranch’s income portfolio, good habitat is the foundation for a healthy operation. 

When ranchers consider feed crops for their livestock, it’s not a bad idea to take wildlife into account, too. Certainly, in some instances, when feeding livestock from hay supplies, deer, elk and pronghorn can be problematic. 

But deer and elk can be lured away from hay bales meant for cows, sheep or horses by planting cover crops like sunn hemp, cereal rye, crimson clover and even winter wheat or barley. 

These cover crops are great browse for livestock, too. But for deer, elk and pronghorn that need access to winter browse, these crops can be lifesavers. 

Potential buyers looking for a ranch for sale will almost certainly be more interested in ranch real estate that pulls double duty. A healthy livestock operation and healthy wildlife habitat often go hand in hand. 

A ranch for sale that can boast both can ask a higher price from potential investors. 

Final word 

Caring for wildlife on a ranch is important. A healthy big-game population on ranch real estate is important for operations that incorporate hunting. But the health of the herds starts with healthy habitat. 

Equally important is ensuring wildlife has the ability to migrate through ranches as they seek out both winter and summer ranges. By using the appropriate fencing, ranchers can help herds migrate safely.

Finally, ranchers who want to ensure wildlife has important winter feed as the animals cross their acreage, incorporating different feed crops into pasturelands can be beneficial. 

When it all comes together, a ranch can be an excellent livestock producer and offer excellent habitat for deer, elk and pronghorns. When potential buyers are looking for ranches for sale, these components make ranch real estate more valuable.

We have over 30 years of experience throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Montana and New Mexico. We know these states well, including some “undiscovered” places. We are offering best hunting ranches for sale along with other premier properties
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