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Starting a Cattle Ranch: What You Need to Know

ranch in Dallas

Many people look for acreage for sale in Weatherford, TX and other areas rich in agricultural land to start their own ranch. However, their purpose for owning a ranch is varied. Some simply want a ranch for their personal enjoyment, while others are looking into making a profit out of growing crops and raising cattle.

Those who belong to the first group are looking to the potential appreciation of their property’s value as the main return to their investment. Serious farmers or cattle ranchers, on the other hand, look to getting a regular income stream from their investment, in addition to enjoying land appreciation.

Cattle ranching for a profit is not an easy undertaking but it’s highly worthwhile for those who love this way of life. If you’re thinking of starting a cattle ranch for profit, here are some of the things you ought to know:

  1. The cattle industry continues to grow

The United States is the largest beef consumer in the world and the fourth-largest beef exporter. The cattle industry suffered a setback during the 2008 recession but started growing again after a couple of years. Since 2011, cattle prices have increased by as much as three times.

Cattle inventory declined after the recession because of the high demand, but this has been increasing in the past few years. As of July 2018, the calf crop was at around 36.5 million head, the largest since 2007.  Commercial beef production is predicted to grow to 27.61 billion pounds by the end of 2019, which is considered a new record in the US.

  1. Choosing the right property is key

In raising cattle for profit, the rule of thumb is that your operation has to be fairly large to be profitable. To find the right property, have a good idea of how many heads of cattle you plan to raise and how much agricultural land you’ll need to sustain it.

You need to consider land support capability more than just the acreage. How many cattle can graze on a property and how much of the land can be sustainably maintained for grazing?

Keep in mind that a piece of land may not be 100% suitable for raising animals or crops. Some parts may not be irrigated or are recreational in nature. You need to watch out, as well, for protected areas that cannot be used for grazing or any kind of development.

  1. Know the type of cattle business you want to get into

The kind of cattle business you get into will determine the supplies and equipment you’ll need, your budget, your business model, and your activities.

Your choices include:

  • Cow-calf business, or raising cattle specifically for the purpose of breeding
  • Feeder calf or stocker business – Weaner calves are purchased and cared for until they reach 700 to 900 pounds (known as feeder calves)
  • Finishing enterprise – Raising feeder calves until they reach market weight of around 1,100 to 1,200 pounds
  • Dairy beef business – Raising calves that do not need to go into a milking herd (mostly Holstein breed) for meat production

Do thorough research on your options and the business you’re interested in. You’ll find a wide range of resources, including your county agricultural extension agents, a veterinarian, expert consultants, and the US Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service.

We at HBS Real Estate can provide you with more tips and guidance on starting your own cattle ranch, as well as finding the right property in Weatherford and the rest of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Get in touch with us today at 817.550.6666 or leave us a note here.