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Starting a ranch

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Keagan M

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Hi all i am new and would like your input on me starting a herd of black Angus and eventually get up around 400 head as i would setup a pasture system with a couple different pastures and do first cut round bales on half the pasture then put the cows on them pastures and cut the other ones when they grow back, also if your wondering i have been around beef cows almost my whole life im 17 and currently work on a dairy farm.
 

mrj

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You are thinking of entering a good business which desperately needs more young people, given the seriously aging ranch/farm population.

It is a business, and too many people do not remember that, feeling that it is a way of life. Both are true, and really necessary for staying in the business long term, imo.

However, at your age, it is best you plan on getting a good education, preferably in a good Ag college. The actual day to day planning and work of raising cattle is really not the hardest part, since most of us love doing that. Much harder, and at least as important, is the book work involved in any form of farming or ranching today.

A really broad ag education is very beneficial to young people who want to own and manage cattle, or any form of farming. Knowledge of all the government rules and regulations, as well as the complex herd management decisions, financial choices, and more that is necessary to make a living in the cattle business will serve you well. That knowledge, as well as the people you will meet in school and by participating in the cattle organizations will give you a real boost up the ladder to the success required to get in and stay in the cattle business.

If you grew up in a farm/ranch family, you have a head start, but as one who had that advantage, but did not avail myself of the formal education, I sure do advise getting all the education you can. For my family, the organizations we belong to, and the contact with our state ag college have been invaluable in furthering our education, along with learning from our mistakes. We did have exceptional family leadership from our elders who were experts in understanding cattle.

An ideal situation would be if you could begin building your herd with your family helping you care for them while you go to school.

All that does not mean one cannot succeed by doing it the hard way.

mrj
 

Aladar

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good advice,

avoid an ag college like the plague though. Get a broad base education, it will help you get "outside the box" when things get tough, and they will.

Best advice is to attend a school where you will be exposed to people from all walks of life, not just a school where it is primarily kids from ag backgrounds. Learn how to deal with those people in everyday life. Learn their hopes, dreams, and concerns. It will make you an ambassador for agriculture down the road and you will always have those friends that you can call from time to time, to get a different perspective of life.
 

leanin' H

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Aladar said:
good advice,

avoid an ag college like the plague though. Get a broad base education, it will help you get "outside the box" when things get tough, and they will.

Best advice is to attend a school where you will be exposed to people from all walks of life, not just a school where it is primarily kids from ag backgrounds. Learn how to deal with those people in everyday life. Learn their hopes, dreams, and concerns. It will make you an ambassador for agriculture down the road and you will always have those friends that you can call from time to time, to get a different perspective of life.

If i was going to college i would sure look for one with a strong agriculture tradition and culture! :shock: I wouldn't get my eyes fixed by a plumber or my home built by an accountant! :? Agriculture based universities have specialties and instructors you won't find at other institutions. Keep an open mind and do what you'd like. We all have different ideas which is great! :D

As far as starting your own operation......hard work and perserverance will be 2 things at the top of the list. Dream big and enjoy your life everyday! Money is just something other folks have. :wink: :lol:
 

eatbeef

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As a young rancher i know how it is to start out and try to expand. If leasing land be very very good to your landlords and keep in touch and no matter what have a good banker that sees your needs and will back in in any situation you come across. Only thing negative i have to say is that everybody says that young people are needed in ranching/farming, but no one realizes that we dont need as many ranchers/farmers as we used to becasue the size of operations. Everybody says we need young people to come back but then nobody wants to let you to "in" when you come knocking.
 

Jake

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eatbeef said:
As a young rancher i know how it is to start out and try to expand. If leasing land be very very good to your landlords and keep in touch and no matter what have a good banker that sees your needs and will back in in any situation you come across. Only thing negative i have to say is that everybody says that young people are needed in ranching/farming, but no one realizes that we dont need as many ranchers/farmers as we used to becasue the size of operations. Everybody says we need young people to come back but then nobody wants to let you to "in" when you come knocking.

I want to second this. If your willing to work it is not hard to find a job farming or ranching.

The hard part is actually being set on a path to own something of your own someday. Not a lot of money to be made as a hired hand in production ag to put towards your own brand.
 

mrj

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So many good points here! Sounds like experience has a strong influence in them, too.

The ag college I have seen the most of, all from the 'outside', but as one who is a 'believer' in the school, seems to have students from a variety of life, not just ag.

On the other hand, EVERYONE from the very 'rural' states is statistically considered 'rural', nearly to the point of being considered 'just a farmer', whether they have an ag background or not, from what I've heard/read!

Another area for study which can be a great money saver for an aggie is at least basic mechanic courses, including gas and diesel engines, and welding. Being able to do at least some of the work yourself, and do it correctly and relatively fast is a great time and money saver.

Reading columns by Burke Teichert in Beef Magazine (also on internet) files is a good education, too. He does have an extremely strong work ethic and believes ranchers need to have it, too.

mrj
 

4Diamond

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I went to an "Ag College" and the biggest thing I came away from school with was it's not what you know but who. I have so many good friends from college and many that are in production ag. We can talk and bounce ideas off one another and not feel be-littled by older more experienced producers.

Always remember there is more than 1 way to skin a cat.
 

Aladar

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What you are going to learn about farming/ranching can be picked up over the internet and seminars.

Learn about running a business, learn about managing people (not just employees).

Agriculture doesnt requre as much specialization as a optomitrist or a medical doctor or even a vet.--- If it gets to that point, the barriers to entry will be even greater than they are today.
 

Zilly

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You sound just like me, only I'm 15 years older than you and have been away from the dairy for 11 years. I really can't do more than to wish you luck, as I'm still trying to figure out how I want to proceed with my goal of owning a ranch, but I would like to echo what everyone else has said...go to school or learn a trade.

When I left the farm and entered the corporate world, I received a thorough education (and still learning) about people, which I feel will help me better appreciate the "ranch life", but will also help me with the business side of things. Plus, I have a craft that I can fall back on or do part time, if/when times get rough.

Again, good luck!
 

jodywy

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4Diamond said:
I went to an "Ag College" and the biggest thing I came away from school with was it's not what you know but who. I have so many good friends from college and many that are in production ag. We can talk and bounce ideas off one another and not feel be-littled by older more experienced producers.

Always remember there is more than 1 way to skin a cat.

yup!
 

Red Barn Angus

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Having some experience is definately a big boost and having some family help is almost a requrement if you don't marry the ranch or inherit it. It's pretty doggone tough to live long enough to build the whole thing on your own. Plus a town job is a strong consideration when getting started for a cash flow. If you can put all your ranch income back into the ranch it will make it go a little faster. Being a retired banker and a rancher I sometimes wonder what kind of education is the most important....ag or business. The ag education is important for the reasons already mentioned but I've seen excellent producers who know little about running a business. Business and economics education is as important in ranching as it is in many other businesses. There are times to leverage your business and times not to. As in the other posts, I think that education and connections are probably almost as important as the ranch itself. And a lot of the education comes from experience and time. Just my two cents.
 

Just me

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If you want it, then I say go for it.. All you will get from other ranchers is their experiences or their opinion, and they are good and sincere, but your experience and your opinion can only come through you going after it. Good decisions come from making bad decisions and bad decisions come from experience. Pick a school that makes sense to you and your situation, and learn all you can, but dont let school get in the way of your education. These guys advice on here comes from years and years of figuring it out, I bet none of them feel like they have it completely whipped. Try it you might like it, and you might not, but what are you out for given it a go?
 

PATB

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College is a must for the education on business and social networking. Business courses and science courses are a must along with a good writing background. I would suggest looking into local groups for beef,range and pasture management workshops or seminars. A holistic management and/or ranch management courses would be a good place to start. The successful startups in my area are not afraid to go against convential thoughts and marketing statergies to make the business a success. Good luck with whatever you decide.
 

RSL

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A couple of thoughts...
Life is too short not to follow your passions.
Education is vital (not all comes from school). I know NS has a great Ag School, but really focus on the areas you feel the weakest in, and make sure you cover business basics. You can still go to Ag college and get a broad based education based on the courses you pick.
Beef and Dairy both have margins but beef probably requires more cash flow management due to the seasonal nature of marketing.
Learn communication skills, especially with your lender and be proactive (I send regular email updates and visit our lender at least every 6 months just to touch base. It makes a great difference).
Create a proper plan - ESPECIALLY THE VISION STATEMENT!!!(your vision drives the business) - you will learn a lot about yourself and your plans and then you can make the decisions, rather than your lender doing it. It also helps you to find the right lender.
Be abnormal. What's old is new and what's new is also new, so don't be afraid to experiment within budgetary reason.
Don't overlook different models of land ownership/land leasing (eg: landscape management for doctors and lawyers on their summer property) and even cattle ownership to start - custom grazing, etc). It can reduce the need for debt and heavy debt sinks ships. Working for the bank is not as inspiring as building your own business.
Ask questions and then listen, or sometimes just listen.
There are a lot of elderly folks in this business who still love it, but physically may not be able to do it all anymore. There are great opportunities for partnerships.
FWIW...
 

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