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This is a discussion on Ranching within the Horse Talk forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Ranching forums

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  • 2 Post By boots

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    04-27-2013, 05:07 PM

I don't know where exactly to put this thread, so of yall think there's a better place for it feel free to move it.

So, I'm really interested in ranching as a career. It is my dream to be a cattle rancher. My grandpa was a rancher and so was my great grandpa and great great grandpa, ranching is basically what my family did, or at least 'did'. No one in my family ranches anymore, everyone that did has passed away. And even though my parents grew up in ranching families, they are in no way interested in it or horses, at all. So, for something I really want to do, I really have no experience in.

I know kinda what to do or what ranchers do and all that, but I have no idea how to get started and have no experience. I've had a few ideas of going and trying to get a job with ranchers and starting off doing simple jobs and learning the ropes, but there really isn't anyone looking for inexperienced workers. I'm going to college and would like to get an agriculture degree or something. I really have no idea what career I'm going to go into, but this one really interests me. Don't most ranchers just basically inherent the herd and ranch from generation to generation? So how do you start basically from scratch and build ground up?

So basically my question, how do you get started? How can I get some experience? And on top of ranching I would like to do horse training, but is that possible or would that be too much?

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    04-27-2013, 05:20 PM
It's a dying career. Long days, little pay, it's your entire life. No health insurance, no dental, no vacations. It takes a special kind of person, who is also a dying breed. I'm not trying to be a party pooper, but I'd suggest aiming for a career that has stable to increasing growth numbers for employment.
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    04-27-2013, 07:26 PM
Perhaps first, it'd help to narrow it down to kind of ranching re: the horse end of it: horse breeding & sales, or educating horses to certain level, then sales, or just creating & maintaining one's own ranch horses.
    04-27-2013, 08:13 PM
Green Broke
Very few ranchers inherit. Look at it logistically. If a rancher had four kids and the place couldn't support them all, the place was either sold or some got left out/bought out.

If you have little horse/cow experience you may want to start in feedlots. Lots of saddle time. Cow health is top priority, so you learn a lot, and get many chances to handle cattle and learn.

You can get a job at a ranch without experience. You just may have to work on another crew, watch and learn and keep reminding them that you want to get on the livestock end of things.

It's not a dying career in my region. We have many ranches that hire people. Yeah, the monthly dollar wage may not look like a lot, but if you take in housing, utilities, beef (usually or more wages), and on and on. It's not bad.

I remember some city person making fun of me when I was ranching full time because they thought it was low class work. I pointed out that I got to live and work year round in the place that he had to sit in a cubicle for 50 weeks so he could visit.

I love ranching! The variety is fantastic. Where else can you be responsible for keeping a clean spreadsheet, pour concrete, make decisions on herd health, use your horse skills, be a steward of large amounts of land, do light electrical, weld, need carpentry...
COWCHICK77 and Horse racer like this.
    04-27-2013, 08:19 PM
Green Broke
Well I'm inheriting so its easier for me. My grandfather, my mother and father, and my sister and her family all work the ranch with me so we don't have the problem of starting from scratch we already have our 4th generation riding with us ;P

My advice for you is to see if you can get a riding job on a bigger ranch and try the life out. See if maybe you can get like an internsip or something to run it.

Cattle ranching, especially range cattle is dying out quick and you don't really see the profit...trust me it all goes right back in to the next yrs calves :/

But it is very rewarding in other ways
    04-27-2013, 11:04 PM
Originally Posted by boots    
I remember some city person making fun of me when I was ranching full time because they thought it was low class work. I pointed out that I got to live and work year round in the place that he had to sit in a cubicle for 50 weeks so he could visit.
This is exactly what I don't want. I only have one life and I'm not going waste it doing a job I hate and dread going to each day. I know too many people who never started enjoying their lives until they retired. They work for the weekend and that's all they do. I don't want that at all. I'm not looking to get rich either, I'm not striving to make a ton of money, just enough to live comfortably. Like I said I have one life and I want to do something that I will love and enjoy. I don't want a schedule where I come in at 7 and go home at 5, do this 5 days a week and its the same thing everyday, a monotonous life. Im also not the kind of person who is not wanting an office job and on a computer all day long cooped up inside a building. And I'm not afraid of hard work either. Yall know what I mean? I can't stand money, it limits and crushes my dreams. I hate having to look at a career and look for how much money you make before you look whether or not the career is your passion and whether or not you'd really enjoy it.

Boot, I like your response to that city boy, that's well stated!
    04-28-2013, 12:59 AM
Not a dying industry in my neck of the woods either. Where I see growth in not in the traditional cow/calf operation but in the organic cow/calf or go bison or yak organic or traditional. No competition from the mega operations. Better profits. Demand for bison hasn't been met in years. Around me there are even captive elk producers. Do something different to set yourself apart.

You can also look into the sheep operations that run up in the mountains to cut your teeth on. It's lonely. Just you, your dog, your horse and 500 not so smart ewes.
    04-28-2013, 01:22 AM
I agree with boots and especially where you live, feedlots are the way to start out.
You will get a crash course in health, sorting, classing and shipping/receiving. You will ride plenty of horses(if the feedlot provides them therwise you need to bring your own) However roping in the pens seems to have become a thing of the past from what I understand. But that can come later as with learning to work outside. The main job is to keep them alive :)

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