So you want to live the dream and buy and operate your own ranch? For the uninitiated, please review this job description to see if it is the right career for you!

Job Title: Ranch Owner/Manager

Reports to: His own conscience, the banker

Job Summary: The Ranch Owner/Manager will oversee the operational efficiency of the ranch, providing strategic planning, marketing, and daily labor to maintain the performance of the ranch.

Supervisory Responsibilities:

  • None, you and your family are the entire labor force.

Duties/Responsibilities:

  • Develop a long-term vision for the improvement of the range, cow herd, remuda, infrastructure, and profitability of the ranch.
  • Maintain the daily functional operation of the ranch.

Required Skills/Abilities: 

  • Excellent range management knowledge. Candidate must be able to identify all local plant species and understand and monitor range and soil conditions. Candidate must be certified or willing to become a certified herbicide applicator and manage invasive weed species accordingly. Candidate must also develop a long-term grazing plan and several short-term emergency plans in case of fire, flood, drought, blizzard, or other natural disaster.
  • Excellent beef cattle management knowledge. Candidate must be well-versed in the variety of special programs geared toward garnering premiums for beef cattle and develop a breeding program from that data. Estimated progeny difference analysis to select male and female breeding stock is a must. Candidate must also know how to manage the breeding cycle—including artificial insemination—and demonstrate confidence in winter feeding strategies, emergency calving techniques, identification and proper treatment of sick cattle, ability to rope and doctor alone, sort, develop vaccination protocols, and practice low-stress animal handling. The successful candidate will develop standardized performance analysis protocols, and monitor body conditions scores.
  • Candidate must be Beef Quality Assurance program certified.
  • Excellent cow horse knowledge. Understanding of bloodlines and phenotypical qualities that result in the best kind of horses for the terrain and work. Low-stress training methods are required to develop horses that will have confidence and ability to sort, rope, cross water, load in the trailer, stand for the vet, etc. Candidate will have the ability to trim and shoe his own horses. Knowledge of hitching and driving a team is a plus, but not a requirement.
  • Ability and willingness to operate and maintain all ranch equipment, including but not limited to: pre-1960s tractor, 2010 tractor and all attachments, skidsteer and attachments, trucks from every decade, stock, flatbed, and horse trailers, generators, water well pumpjacks, welder, and various other power tools. CDL preferred.
  • Diverse skillset for infrastructure management, including but not limited to: fencing—both construction and maintenance, stock water pipeline installation and repair, windmill repair, solar well maintenance, domestic plumbing and electrical, light carpentry, metal fabrication and repair, road and corral maintenance and construction.
  • Advanced accounting and bookkeeping skills. Candidate will develop a budget, an income statement, profit center income statement, balance sheet, inventory account balances, depreciation report and cost analysis per animal unit to be analyzed on a semi-annual basis. Accurate daily record keeping is a must.
  • Excellent understanding of advanced marketing techniques. Candidate will have a working knowledge of the cattle futures market and be comfortable hedging the calf crop. Candidate is also expected to enroll in progressive management techniques that will result in premiums in the marketplace, including but not limited to source and age verification, all-natural, and non-hormone treated cattle programs. An extensive network of buyers to call on for bids on the cattle is also required.
  • Strong interpersonal skills to maintain private leases, work with neighbors, and develop a network of contacts to assist in the success of the operation.
  • Experience dealing with governmental agencies. From the USDA to the FSA to the NRCS to the BLM to State, candidate is expected to enroll the ranch in any programs that can assist in the infrastructure and health of the range. Also, candidate must maintain and current government leases and apply for any that may become available.
  • Excellent understanding of weather patterns.
  • Depending on location, candidate must be willing to harvest hay or other crops, irrigate, participate in forest management, brush control, watercourse management, wildlife preservation, and guide hunters.
  • Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Excellent time management skills with a proven ability to meet deadlines.
  • Strong analytical and problem-solving skills.
  • Ability to function well in a high-paced and at times stressful environment.
  • Proficient with Microsoft Office Suite or related software.
  • Frugality
  • Ability to maintain a cheerful attitude in all weather and circumstances.
  • Other duties as assigned.

Education and Experience:

At least a lifetime of related experience required.

Bachelor’s degree in agriculture science. Master’s degree considered, candidates possessing a Ph.D. need not apply.  

Physical Requirements: 

Prolonged periods of sitting on a horse in all weather.

Occasionally sustaining injuries from being bucked off, kicked, mashed, or hooked by horses and/or cattle.

Prolonged periods of sitting on a tractor with no air conditioning.

Prolonged periods of sitting in a truck, hauling horses and cattle.

Frequent periods sitting at a desk and working on a computer.

Must be able to lift, push, pull, wrestle, and tie-down unwilling creatures that outweigh you tenfold.

Must be able to lift anything from feed sacks to panels to newborn calves.

To Apply: 

Interested parties must work with an approved ranch realtor to find the right ranch for you, then a lending agency of your choice to finance this dream. An experienced estate lawyer is also recommended so you can pass this incredible burden opportunity on to your heirs.

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