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How to Become a Rancher: The Ultimate Guide

If you’ve grown up around ranchers or found the allure of open plains thrilling, becoming a rancher may be a dream. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ranchers enjoy a median pay of $68,090 a year, or $32.73 an hour.

Although the projected growth is expected to remain the same, it’s also predicted that about 84,000 openings will present each year. This means that there’s plenty of opportunities to get started in the industry.

With this in mind, read on for our simple guide on how to become a rancher today.

What Does a Rancher Do?

Many people feel inspired by open fields and the sound of hooves, but it’s important that you know what the job of a cattle rancher entails before you make a final decision. Ranchers breed and raise livestock that they take care of and supervise.

The livestock is often bred to be sold to the beef and dairy industries. Ranchers can also breed sheep for their wool.

What Are the Daily Duties?

Now that you know the basic job description of a rancher, what does their job entail on a daily business? You’ll find that most activities have to do with raising and breeding livestock so that they grow strong and healthy.

This means that it requires a lot of physical exertion, as well as being around the presence of large livestock and heavy machinery.

Feeding Cattle

Livestock needs access to fresh food and water year-round. Ranchers also need to know to rotate their livestock between pastures before one becomes completely depleted.

Special types of hay and feed are also offered to maximize milk production and quality. They may also choose to give beef cattle special feed that helps them gain more weight before they’re sold.

Breeding the Cattle

While some ranchers choose to involve themselves in this part of the job, they can also request the aid of a veterinarian. Good knowledge of cattle and selective breeding is important in order to ensure that the new livestock is healthy and strong.

Construction and Maintenance

Beyond the livestock on the property, ranchers need to maintain barns, fences, troughs, gates, and more. However, they can also employ full-time workers that are able to handle all the maintenance tasks for the ranch.

Business Affairs

Last but not least, it’s important to keep in mind that ranching is a business. This means that ranchers need to find buyers for their livestock and negotiate contracts that both parties can be happy with. They’ll also need to handle payroll and taxes.

Although hiring an accountant familiar with ranching is recommended, ranchers still need to be aware of who their target market is and what those industries are looking for in healthy livestock.

Career Requirements

Ranching jobs typically require you to have at least a high school diploma to get started. With new technologies developing and becoming more common, however, further education may be needed.

Associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees are common with degree fields in business, agriculture resources, or natural resources. It’s also important to keep in mind that you can’t automatically step into ranching careers.

Ranchers often have years of work experience in related professions, such as agricultural work or helping to run a family farm. If you don’t have the experience of working at a farm, this can typically be supplemented through degree programs.

For instance, associate degree programs in ranch management are available that help you learn the following:

  • Conservation
  • Range and animal health
  • Animal nutrition
  • Reproduction
  • Forage production

If you take a ranch management course, it may also touch on the business side of running a ranch as well as marketing.

However, if you can’t afford a degree, you also have the option of becoming an apprentice. Apprenticeships often last between one to two years, and you’ll be working closely with an experienced rancher who’s willing and able to pass on their years of knowledge to the next generation.

Rancher Apparel

Becoming a rancher means you’ll be spending most of your day outdoors on a horse’s back or using an ATV. Apparel serves strong practical purposes–for instance, a high-quality pair of jeans will protect your legs from the sides of animals.

Cowboy boots come in a variety of styles, but they also help protect your feet from animals and the rough terrain. Chaps are also not just for show. They give your legs extra protection from thorns, rope burns, and any other injury that could easily pierce through jeans.

Lastly, patch hats are necessary as they help protect ranchers’ eyes from the harmful rays of the sun. Not only does this make it easier to see during the brightest parts of the day, but hats can also protect sensitive skin from sun damage.

This is because skin cancer most commonly occurs on places of the body that are exposed to the sun for long amounts of time.

How to Become a Rancher: Start With Schooling

Now that you know what the job of a rancher entails, you may feel overwhelmed by the years of experience you’ll need before you’re taking care of your own livestock. However, focus on the first step of schooling.

If you can’t afford an associate’s degree, you also have the option of finding an apprenticeship. There are many ranchers that are near retirement or who are willing to pass on their knowledge to a new rancher. The more accurate and helpful knowledge passed around, the better the industry becomes as a whole.

Ready to learn more about how to become a rancher or other professions? Keep reading our blog for informative articles!

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