A ranch is a large tract of land that is primarily for the purpose of raising and feeding grazing livestock. The people who own or operate a ranch are called ranchers, and they raise livestock such as cattle or sheep, or less common livestock such as elk, bison, ostrich, emu or alpacas. The ranching and livestock industry is growing faster than any other agricultural sector in the world.
Ranching is often a family run business, although outsiders can also be hired to supplement the family workers. It requires a great deal of work, and family members are a trustworthy and reliable source of labour.
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A rancher is the supervisor of operations, and therefore decides which animals to raise, when to rotate stock, and makes decisions about breeding. They sometimes use artificial insemination to introduce new bloodlines, or sell semen from their own herd so other ranchers can access the ranch bloodlines. They also are involved in the health of the herd (with the help of a veterinarian), are involved with ranch maintenance (making sure the buildings and fencing are intact), and generally are the ones to do the hiring and firing of employees. A rancher is also heavily involved in the business end of things, negotiating and selling the products they produce.
A rancher may decide to grow feed on the ranch in order to avoid the high cost of purchasing feed for their livestock. If this is the case, they would then need to manage where the feed is grown, the cultivation process, and the maintenance of the crop until it is harvested.
Although a degree is not required to be a rancher, some ranchers do complete a degree in agriculture (ranch management) or a similar field. Instead of earning a degree, an aspiring rancher could be an apprentice to an experienced rancher in order to learn the skills necessary. This takes between one to two years and is a hands-on, on-the-job intensive type of training. Many experienced ranchers love to pass their skills on to the next generation.
Some skills necessary in order to become a rancher:
To most effectively “sell the grass” on our ranch, we are always evaluating what we think will work the best—”best” being a balance between what is most profitable and what is best for the land. To accomplish this we run three types of operations on our ranch and adjust according to what we think will work the best.
When Tom Steyer first learned that his wife, Kat Taylor, wanted to sell beef from the cattle herd on their ranch here, he rolled his eyes...
Ever since the mid-late 19th century, as soon as they took a gander at the wide open spaces of North America, a certain kind of feller (and gal—though mostly, truth be told, it was mainly the menfolk) fell in love with the lifestyle of cattle ranchin’ and cowboyin’.
Ranching is not just a business, it’s a way of life. And it’s a 365 day a year commitment. Regardless of the weather, holidays, or any other plans we may have, the cattle have to be taken care of.
With the introduction of crop cultivation, different farming systems were introduced, and they were based on various factors such as geography and culture. Ranching and farming are two different systems, which have both similarities and differences.
There is something that agriculture needs just as much as drought-tolerant corn or auto steering in tractors: It needs young farmers and ranchers. The average age of farmers in the U.S. is 57 and that number is not going down.
My husband and I run a farm with over 300 cows. The 'chores' never stop, but it's bliss working outside with the animals.