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Building Your Farm Business on Leased Pasture

By   /  May 20, 2013  /  4 Comments

Taking your farm in a different direction or starting a new enterprise is an intimidating task. Leasing pastureland is the most advantageous way to do so when you need grass but want to minimize risk and debt.

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Leasing land can benefit almost any farmer in any situation. It should be your first consideration i
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About the author

I graduated from West Virginia University in 2012 with a degree in livestock management, and a minor in agribusiness. While at WVU, I won a statewide entrepreneurship competition with a patentable device I designed for video-assisted cattle artificial insemination. I then spent six months interning for grazing expert Greg Judy in Missouri. Now I run Rhinestone Cattle Consulting, helping new and experienced farmers build profitable mob grazing beef operations. I offer artificial insemination, electric fence building and graphic design services too. I'll travel anywhere in the 48 states for on-farm consulting and speaking at conferences.


  1. Eric says:

    Hi Meg, real nice article here. I was curious if you knew what an average lease rate would be on land? For instance, if I had 100 head of cattle I would assume it would take 100 acres or so, do you know what folks typically charge to lease per acre?

    Thanks, Eric

    • Meg says:

      This is one of those questions we consultants don’t like to give a concrete numerical answer to, because the answer differs for every farm. The amount of land you’ll need for 100 head depends on your area and your grazing management. You will need fewer acres for 100 head in the eastern US than in the west, and under mob grazing versus low-density rotation or set stocking. Another of my articles on this site describes how to determine carrying capacity of a certain piece of land. But as an example, I am mob grazing 10 head on 18 acres in western New York. Greg Judy has about 300 head on 1,000 acres in Missouri. This means you’ll need 2-4 acres per head in the eastern or central US. As far as lease rates go, they change as land values change. The most recent data I have is a chart from BEEF magazine in 2012. Cash rent for pasture at that time was anywhere from $5-7 per acre in the southern plains and mountain west, to $28-33 per acre in the corn belt and Great Lakes states (where cropping and development are big competition). The national average was $11.50/acre. I’m sure more recent data is only a Google search away. Thanks for reading my articles, hope this answers your questions!

  2. Brice Glidewell says:

    I’m pretty sure Greg Judy wrote a book on this. It’s called “No Risk Ranching”. Its worth a read if you are interested in this subject.

    • Kathy Voth says:

      Hi Brice!

      Actually Meg interned with Greg Judy for 6 months and he forwarded her articles to us suggesting that our readers would appreciate them. So she comes to us with an outstanding endorsement. By the way, we have a link to Greg’s books in the center column of the page. If you’re not seeing three columns (the article, and two more) increase the window size of your browser, and you’ll be able to see more info. 🙂

      Thanks for your input!

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