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Three Common Mistakes to Avoid When Starting Your Own Ranch

Live water ranches

Are you interested in finding some cattle ranch land to call home? Or perhaps you want cattle ranch land as a side investment that will hopefully generate some income for you. Having the chance to own cattle ranch land is a wonderful opportunity; watching the sun set on the expansive miles of your land, with the aroma of cattle at your nose, and the light breeze in your face is a soul satisfying experience.

However, if you approach your search for cattle ranch for sale without care, you could end up with cattle ranch land that you regret. Before hunting for farms and ranches for sale, make sure that you avoid these common mistakes people make when they’re getting started:

Three Mistakes to Avoid While Shopping for Cattle Ranch Land

  1. Mistake: Overestimating how much cattle the land can support.

    With good sustainability practices, your land will renew itself and provide for your cattle year round. However, one important factor in keeping your ranch sustainable is rotating the land that the cattle use. This means that if you need to raise X amount of cattle in order to be profitable, you don’t just need enough land for that number of cows and bulls. You need to have enough land for them to graze on now, and then the same amount of acreage to move them to when it’s time to let their current home regrow to feed cattle in the future.

    Many of the largest ranches for sale will advertise a number of cattle that the land can support. This is not a hard and fast number that you can be guaranteed of, before buying any ranch land, it’s a good idea to contact the USDA for a report on the soil and vegetation conditions in the area, to get a good gauge of how much cattle you’ll be able to raise on the land.

    If the land hasn’t previously been used as a ranch, you’ll also want to make sure that you look for live water ranches, as cattle cannot survive without a source of hydration.

  2. Mistake: Underestimating how much labor will be required to run the ranch.

    Many people assume that cattle are a low-maintenance livestock. While cows do like to lazily graze about, you have to invest time in maintaining land that can support them. You also have to pay attention to the health and well being of the cattle. It is not unusual for even a ranch that is a “side job” to require 20 hours or more of labor per week. If you aren’t prepared to make that kind of time commitment, you’ll have to hire someone else to do it, which will take a dip into your profits (or make you unprofitable altogether).
  3. Mistake: Relying too much on tax benefits to make the operation successful.

    The International Revenue Service provides many benefits to agricultural owners to help them stay afloat. While you should absolutely make the most of these opportunities, you should not let it be a deciding factor in the decision process of running your ranch. You should keep a focus on the future well-being of your ranch (and your own sanity) when you make decisions for your property and operations. If you let the potential tax benefits become the driving factor in your ranch decisions, you could run it to failure.

    While we’re on the subject, you absolutely need to use a tax professional who specializes in agricultural tax law to not only do your taxes, but to be a sounding board all year long. The tax implications in the agricultural industry are far more complicated than standard taxes; only an agricultural specialist is prepared to advise you accurately. And getting your taxes wrong when you’re running a ranch could cost you a hefty sum.

Ranchers are American heroes and running your own ranch is truly the American dream. Living off the land and providing sustainable, healthy food for other people is the greatest calling a person could fulfill. However, if you go without taking care in advance you could live to regret it. Make sure to avoid these three common mistakes while purchasing and starting your ranch.

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