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New Beginner Cattle Ranching Questions

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New member
Apr 26, 2022
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Hello all

I’m new to the forum. I’m relocating to NC next year. I find a herd of cattle to be therapeutically calming for me and I enjoy seeing them. So I would like a herd on my property.

Can A Hobby Herd Pay for Themselves
Say 30 Cattle or So?

On this thought, I would like to know if it’s possible to get a small herd to at least pay their own way, that is at least break even on the cost of keeping them via the cattle themselves? How many acres for around 30 cattle?

Cattle Rancing for a Living
My second thought is that if I could, I would really enjoy ranching beef cattle for a living. I would appreciate pointers on:

Is it possible to do this with beef cattle alone, that is without getting into dairy?
How to get started?
How many cattle needed to earn a sustainable living?
How many acres for said amount of cattle? (Carrying capacity)

I’m serious about this desire and would appreciate some real kind supportive feedback.


leanin' H

Well-known member
Nov 8, 2007
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Western Utah Desert
I wish ya well as you get your feet wet with cattle. But North Carolina has such a different climate than the Utah desert where I live my advice won’t help ya much. If I were you I’d find local ranchers there to get your questions answered as they can give direct and specific answers to ya. Best of luck and welcome


Well-known member
Apr 8, 2008
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NE Oregon
Way too many variables to give good answers to most of your questions. For example when I was on the Washington coast I could run a cow on 2 acres April through October. Here in the high desert of eastern Oregon it is more like 50 acres + per cow.
Can you make a living off cows? The answer is yes. How you get to that point is a whole different question.

Mountain Cowgirl

Well-known member
Mar 19, 2021
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N.E. Oregon
All the above advice is spot on. Way too many variables to give you any specific advice. The thing about seeing photos and reading or watching videos about ranching life is it doesn't convey the 24/7 commitment.

Can you survive 5 years losing money? Do you have an outside income? Are you buying the ranch with cash? My opinion is if you have to borrow any money for the land, cattle, or machinery, then you are in trouble before you start. Maybe consider 10 acres of great grassland and half a dozen weaned steers for starters. Carry them to the next fall then decide if you want to expand and gamble on a cow and calf operation or lease out your pasture to paying horse people.

Gcreekrch has the right idea that working on a ranch is the best way to get experience and actually make a few bucks or maybe just get room and board in trade for the experience.
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