What is a Rancher?
Table of Contents
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.
What does a Rancher do?
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.
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How to become a Rancher
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:
- some relevant experience is typically preferred for entry-level positions
- a good business and management sense is needed in order for the ranch to become a profitable business
- some repair and maintenance skills are necessary in order to keep equipment and structures in good working order
- some veterinary skills are necessary in order to maintain the health of the herd
- planning skills are key, as a ranch can be rife with unexpected obstacles
What is the workplace of a Rancher like?
Ranchers typically live on site in a ranch house, and the ranch may include housing for employees and family members as well. You will find a rancher mostly outdoors, herding cattle to and from different pastures, overseeing the maintenance of fences and buildings, and taking care of any sick or injured animals. Many ranchers use motorized all-terrain vehicles as a primary mode of transportation, with some horses as working animals.
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