Starting a ranch business can be very profitable if you have the startup costs and enough land and livestock to offset your costs. It’s a lifestyle that requires a lot of hard work and dedication but can be rewarding personally and in profits.
You can start your ranch business on a few acres of land and expand later through more land or through additional products and services you will provide to various customers.
Follow along as we review the general requirements of how to start a ranch business.
Start building a plan before you jump into spending your money on land and livestock so that you can make the best decisions to turn your ranch into a profitable business.
● What are the startup costs for your ranch and what are the ongoing costs?
● What products and services are you going to provide?
● What are you going to charge?
● Who are you selling to?
Consider and decide which options are best for you, and then determine pricing for those.
Buy enough land for your business needs. Having too much land that you’re not using is just a waste of your startup capital.
Start out buying used equipment to save costs.
No matter what livestock you get, you’re going to need some form of fencing that is adequate to keep them contained.
Your livestock needs shelter which should include a water source.
The big question will be what sort of livestock you will get, cattle, sheep, or something specialized like emus or elk. Your ultimate goal and reason for building the ranch, along with what you’re trying to sell, will determine this.
If you plan to market anything to consumers, then a website will be required so people can find you and even buy products or services from you.
If your plan involves more than just selling cattle, you need to invest in a marketing and advertising strategy.
You may be able to run a smaller ranch by yourself, but the bigger you get or the more services you’re providing, you may require some staff.
After your initial investment, you’re going to have ongoing costs. One of the highest costs will be the feed for your livestock. So you will need to find an agricultural center or distributor that can offer reasonable rates on large livestock feed orders.
Review and document all ongoing costs for your ranch, and update throughout the year as you find new costs so that your subsequent years will be more accurately budgeted.
A typical ranch will raise and sell livestock for food, but that may not be as profitable as you’d hope. So it’s essential to take a look at what else you can do with your ranch to increase profits.
You may sell directly to a distributor or sell your livestock online for direct consumer sale; depending on how big your ranch is, you may even be able to do both.
Consider if you’ll provide other products and services through your ranch, such as:
● Sell milk products to consumers or find a business to sell to.
● Breeding services with other farms.
● Start a “dude ranch” and offer tours of your farm and access to being a rancher for the day.
● Offer classes in ranching, cheese making, or any other skills you can teach through your ranch.
Make sure that the prices you can sell your livestock at or the revenue you get from your additional products and services can cover your expected ongoing costs, as well as start to put a dent in your initial investment.
If you can’t see profits on paper in best-case scenarios, then you need to consider what other avenues you can include in your ranch to make it profitable.
Some of the most profitable ranching businesses are not selling their livestock to distributors for general sale. Instead, small ranches are finding enormous success by producing and selling products such as goats milk style products through direct sales from their website or by creating distribution agreements with grocery stores or specialty stores.
Many small specialty ranches are opening up that are making $100,000 / month by selling products rather than livestock.
If this is your approach, you will need to work on how to create those products and package them for sale to consumers or businesses.
Once you’ve determined what type of initial products to sell, you’ll need to sell directly to consumers through a website, and you’ll want to find distributors to sell your products which can be a big moneymaker if you get into the right stores.
Create a website that allows customers to view your products and purchase them. This will require hiring somebody to build a sales website and implement a payment system. If you prefer to do everything yourself, you could try to build a website using a service like Shopify.
You’ll need to market your products through a variety of channels, including:
● Hiring somebody to improve your SEO results, which means getting better rankings in search engines when people search for products similar to yours.
● Creating social media, and showcase your ranch, products, and anything else interesting. People love seeing cute animals, so ensure there are plenty of those on all of your profiles. Platforms like Instagram and Tiktok will be great options for your products.
● Using paid advertising through Google Ads and similar services to get top results when people search for the products you offer.
Approach grocery stores or specialty stores that may want to stock your products in their stores. If your packaging and product style matches their customers, they may either stock them or allow you to set up a display in their store to see how sales go.
You can also take the traditional route of selling your livestock through wholesale markets, though as a smaller ranch, you may not make the profits required to be sustainable.