New to Cattle Ranches? Ranching Tips while You Search Land for Sale

New to Cattle Ranches? Ranching Tips while You Search Land for Sale

Are you thinking of purchasing ranch land or working cattle ranches for sale? If you are new to the cattle industry, earning the ropes can sound daunting. So, you may decide to wade into cattle ranching a bit at a time.

If you start small, you may be able to turn a hunting property or fishing ranch out West into a profitable cattle operation—in Colorado, Wyoming or New Mexico.

Choose the Right Cattle Ranch Real Estate Broker

Remember, several resources, including a good ranch real estate agent, can help you achieve your goals. Realtors specializing in ranches can point you towards land for sale or existing cattle ranches where you are comfortable.

Many other resources are available to help, both a little self-help and talking to experts. Pick up magazines like Cattleman Magazine, books, read online, or check out specific courses to sharpen your acumen.

Introduce yourself to the cattle business with topics from genetics to cattle nutrition, range and pasture management, land leasing, equipment, vaccines, record keeping, ranch accounting, and livestock marketing.

Cattle Ranches
Washington Ranch in Marietta, Oklahoma

Starting a Cattle Ranch

If you decide to start a cattle business, take your time to get it right. Create a business plan. In so doing, you will force yourself to be more thorough than you may think necessary. Begin small. If it all works out and you can keep your costs down, then add new cows gradually. You will need to tailor the size of the herd to the available pasture or range in the area. Creating a business plan is a good exercise. Any successful business will keep detailed financial records.

Think About Your Cattle Ranch’s Location

So, when looking for a perfect piece of land for sale, zero-in on places you want to be in for the long haul. What climate would you enjoy? How about terrain, vegetation, or nearby amenities? Do you need to be near relatives, a specific ski resort, or other landmarks?


Budgeting for Cattle Ranches

Before you begin your search for cattle ranches, you’ll want to determine your budget. Budgets should go beyond what you’re willing to pay for a property. They should also include items such as start up costs, improvements, hiring staff, and more.

Production ranches for sale near popular settings tend to cost more per acre. Big stretches of vacant land will be cheaper far away from the crowd. Remember, too, that existing facilities on ranches count for a lot. Costs for barns, fencing, pens, and equipment are much lower for used than new builds.

Often times you’ll want to involve your business or personal accountant in these discussions. Since searching for cattle ranches is also a business transaction, you’ll want professional help to make the best financial decision.

Real estate agents at Harrigan Land make it a priority to dig for details about each ranch. They will bring you details like soil types, water sources, carrying capacity, pastures and rangelands, cattle markets, and so forth. They can also research the history of land uses in the area along with information about possible neighboring grazing leases.

Cattle Ranch Acreage Acreage

Cattle Ranches
Washington Ranch

Be sure to offer livestock plenty of room. Required space amounts to 1.5 to 2 acres per cow. So, if you are looking to land a small family ranch, then perhaps some miniature Jersey cows for a small dairy?

If you are looking to occupy 250 acres, you’ll fit more than 50 cow/calf pairs. For a full-scale Western cattle ranch, your best bet may be to ask about successful production ranches for sale.

Keep your heard in mind while you’re searching for cattle ranches. If you’re new to ranching, then you may want to start small. However, don’t forget to have some room to grow. For example, you might want to take on a ranch that can handle 50 head of cattle but start with owning just 20 cattle.

What are Your Earning Goals?

The highest-paid farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers earn more than $135,000 annually with a median annual wage of $70,000. How much you earn largely depends on how successful you are. These skills take time to develop, so have a solid income plan that factors in a few years to reach your big goal.

Of course, the size and complexity of the operation are key factors. On average, cattle operations deliver the highest profits thanks to the price of a cow.

Profit per cow ranges from about $100 to $150 annually, depending on pastures and feed and facilities. Whether you are looking to start with 10 miniature cows for a home dairy or a 500 head cattle ranch for sale, knowing the business ropes will help tremendously.

Profits will multiply according to the number of animals and the years in business. Work with a ranching-specific accountant or financial team to help develop an income plan that fits your ranch and timeline. Think carefully about upfront start-up costs.

cattle ranches

Learn About Cattle Breeds

You have seen pastures of black cows, brown cows, white cows, gray cows, and all kinds of mixes. But maybe you’d like to build up a herd of Longhorns. Or perhaps dairy is your thing.

If you are starting from scratch, take some time to study breeds of cattle. Check the array of photographs online and study the differences. Coloration, body type and characteristics, head characteristics, and other qualities determine the best uses.

The major breeds of cows are dairy cows and beef cows. But there are some dual-purpose breeds such as Devon, Dexters, and Red Polls. These cows look like a beef cow but may not be. You may be familiar with Jersey cows and Guernsey cows or the Brown Swiss. But there are several other dairy breeds.

Learn about the four major beef breed categories, including the British-type, Continental, Composites, and Exotics. You’ve probably heard most about the British-types. How about Angus, Red angus, Herefords, British White, Belted Galloways, and Shorthorns. There are so many cross breeds that this may be a lifelong learning experience.

Feeding Cows

First things first. Cattle need fresh water, so be sure to include any river ranches for sale in your quest. Water is arguably one of the most important aspects of any ranch management plan. Be sure to understand the water rights that come with your property before you buy. Choose properties with a healthy water plan to ensure that you have enough water to support your stock.

Enough available grass is a high priority. Cattle grow fast during summer months when the grasses are full. Good year-round feeding, however, is demonstrably cost-effective. That’s why during the winter and inclement weather, you can plan on supplementing with hay. Colorado snow on mountain ranches prolongs that period.

How much should you feed cows? All they can eat. Usually, it boils down to eating two-thirds of the amount offered, leaving the least tasty portion. Then they go for some water. Have the forage and feed tested so you will know the nutritional values. Will you need to supplement grazing in any way?

Breeding Your Cattle

Save yourself a lot of work by using AI or hiring bulls as needed. Or go all out and keep your own bulls. Just expect a few more hands-on, rough, and tough experiences. Bulls can be dangerous.

Calving Season

A calf is called a heifer until she has offspring when she becomes a cow. You can start with some heifers. They reach puberty quickly, after about a year and they may rebreed a couple of months after birth. Ideally, cows calve no more than every 365 days.

Each cow fits into one of three parities, which is how many times she has offspring. Young cows are known as nulliparous. After one birth, the cow is referred to as primiparous, after two, it’s called multiparous then after five, it’s grand multiparous

To produce income, cows should rebreed on time without interventions. If not, they will likely be culled from the group, sent to slaughter, and replaced with younger cows. Calves pay the bills, so have a healthy breeding plan in place. At about 7-8 years, production begins to decline.

Cattle Ranches

Multi-Purpose Cattle Ranching

Cattle ranches don’t just need to raise cattle. In fact, there are several other options for cattle ranches to produce income. Some ideas include:

Western Cattle Ranches for Sale

Ask about this historic cattle ranch for sale in Oklahoma today or other cattle ranches or hunting/recreational ranches. We will work with you to find the best cattle ranches in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, or Utah.

Contact Dave Harrigan or Hunter Harrigan at Harrigan Land Company at (800) 524-1818. Specializing in large ranch and recreational properties in Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Utah.


Harrigan Land Company

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