How to Start a Ranch From Scratch

Can’t be done. At least that is what conventional wisdom says. I’d agree that it can’t be done, if you follow the rules of traditional ranching – running cows the way everyone else does and owning everything. If you are willing to break some rules and challenge conventional wisdom maybe you can join the amazing group of people that have done it. Let’s look at the economics of conventional wisdom for starting a ranch from scratch. You’ll need land. Of course, if you want to be a real rancher (so the thinking goes) you’ll need to own it. If you are going to ranch full time, you’ll need enough cows to support a family so let’s plan to buy a ranch that will run 400 cows. In much of ranching country, the rule of thumb is 35 acres per cow. Let’s push that to 40 and ask those cows to graze year-round. The value of the land will be driven by things other than its forage producing value. Generally aesthetic value and proximity to a metropolitan center will drive the land values. Let’s say we found a ranch that will sell for $600/acre. We will need 16,000 acres so our purchase will be about $9.6 million. Of course, we need to own the cow herd as well. 400 cows, 16 bulls and 80 heifers will cost us about $700,000 in today’s market and we will need an arsenal of machines so let’s add another $300,000 to make it a round $1 million for livestock and machines. If we find a bank willing to finance all of this, we will likely need to come up with 20% down at

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2 thoughts on “How to Start a Ranch From Scratch

  1. Thats a pretty good summary. I think you have to decide whether you want TO RANCH or A RANCH. Sometimes you will wind up with both, but you probably won`t start out that way. Sadly if you do at the very start, you will be fighting an uphill battle. Before doing either one , I would recommend studying Holistic Management. I can not emphasize enough what a difference its made to my operation and life.

  2. Starting from scratch isn’t as hard as people think. A this post points out it will require a paradigm shift in order to succeed though. My recommendation would be to learn sell/buy marketing skills and use a type of livestock that offers high turnover, like stockers. I see Wally Olson has an ad over on the right hand side of the page, call him today to learn more about marketing

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