By Horace McQueen
The simplest way to becoming a successful rancher is to start with a large fortune. That said the big wad of cash will diminish to a much smaller fortune in record time.
One livestock economist says his studies show that a 160-cow ranch is lucky to make a profit each year. If that is a realistic projection, why do so many folks want to start a ranch from scratch? First of all, it takes capital and plenty of it. For starters there is the land to run the cattle on. Purchasing the land would be impossible unless it was inherited, or a big oil discovery was made. Even then, the cost to equip operate a ranch is sky high.
Here are a few purchases that are generally a prelude to becoming a rancher. Having land available comes first. If purchased, leased or rented, it takes a big bite out of available funds. Then there’s the cost of buying cattle to stock the ranch. At $1,500 per head, a 100-cow operation needs $150,000 to buy cattle. Then there are the added expenses. Fencing at $10,000 a mile, providing water sources and electricity takes more and more dollars from the depleting bank account.
And that’s just a start. A good set of corrals, a chute to work the animals plus hay barns, tractor and loader add more costs. Then add in feeding troughs, mineral feeders and other needs like trailers and pickups. Once all the outgo is totaled up becoming a rancher doesn’t look as promising! But somebody has to raise our food and fiber---and they do it willingly, even at a loss. Thank God for these folks! And for those with a fortune to spend, take a trip to Las Vegas. The odds there beat losing it all to become a rancher!