Ranching For Fun or Profit? 

If you are reading this blog, you are probably aware of the new, young farmer/rancher movement taking place in this country. I think this is a great thing. Probably one of the best things happening in this country right now. However, there are many websites, blogs and books devoted to this subject as well. Many of them provide young people with an unrealistic view of what farming/ranching is really like. I had no idea until I actually worked on a ranch. Yes, most people are aware that it’s hard work. But I want to talk about the economic side of starting a farm/ranch, which is really a small part of the bigger picture.

I was lucky enough to do an internship with Greg Judy. Greg started his farm/ranch with absolutely nothing. With a lot of hard work, he built his ranch up to what it is today. Today he owns a good chunk of land, and all of his cattle. He also has over 150 sheep and consults for ranchers all over the world. So, you might be asking yourself, ‘how can I do that?’ Well, there are many answers. But, the overwhelming theme in all of this is profitability. Are you starting a ranch/farm to provide a living for you and your family? Or, are you starting one as a hobby? Somewhere in between?

There are hundreds of styles of farming/ranching out there today. The Polyface model is by far the most popular. What works for Polyface might not work at all for you. Maybe it will. Before you dive into the wonderful world of farming/ranching you need to figure out what you want out of it. Really. Write down what you want.

If you start reading a blog about a couple who started a farm/ranch the day after they quit their corporate jobs, and you are a 23 year old college graduate, then their experience will be completely different from yours. They probably have $200k in the bank, own their land and can afford to live off their savings for 3 years. You, as a 23 year old college graduate probably don’t have anything. You might be in debt. What works for the corporate couple will not work for you. Additionally, people like that might be doing this for a fun “early retirement” plan, and not for profitability. I’m just asking you to be careful about who you learn from. Luckily, I worked with Greg. He provided me with a realistic means to start a farm/ranch.

Define what you want. Learn from someone who is successful because of their farming/ranching. If you like pigs, work for the best pig rancher/farmer in the world. If you are serious about farming/ranching, stay away from the hobby farms. Learn from someone who is dependent on farming/ranching to provide for their families.

Yes, there was a lot of repetition in this post, but it was purposeful. Good luck, and most importantly, have fun!

Chris Stelzer

Chris Stelzer is a published Author, founder of Agricultural Insights and creator of many resources that help family farmers and ranchers grow their businesses. His flagship courses are the Grazing Mastery Program and The Farm Marketing Mastery Program. 

Chris Stelzer

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