There’s a great deal of commitment and hard work needed to start a cattle ranch. Most farmers wind up being born into it, marrying into it, or inheriting it. If you’ve recently obtained land and decided that you want a farm where you can breed and raise cattle, there’s a lot you’ll have to consider—the cost, potential income, production, and more.

Here are some pointers when starting a cattle ranch:

Develop a Business Plan

A clear business plan is crucial when starting a cattle ranch. It can help you pinpoint the specifics regarding your business and the potential holes. Think about all the startup costs and the ongoing prices. You’ll also need to consider what your target market will be. Do you want to raise beef cattle or start dairy farming? What does that target demographic look like? What will you name your empire? These are questions to ask yourself during the business planning stage.

Understand the Startup Costs

During the business development phases, you’ll need to create a budget and understand the costs associated with raising cattle, such as:

  • Acquiring the animals
  • Animal care
  • Purchasing equipment
  • Cattle feed
  • Watering facilities
  • Pasture management
  • Shelter for the animals
  • Staff
  • Insurance
  • Marketing efforts

3 C’s of Credit

When seeking funding for your cattle ranch, you’ll inevitably face the three C’s of creditworthiness: Character, capacity, and capital.

Character refers to the basics, such as whether you’ll pay your bills on time. Capacity means having available funds for a down payment and a plan for servicing your debt. However, capital is where things get tricky since ranching is a capital-intensive industry, and a lot of the capital is wrapped up in the land.

While some financial institutions specialize in lending to ranchers, they’ll still have their own credit requirements. Do your research before asking a financial institution for a loan.

Seek Out Potential Income Opportunities

Most ranchers raising cattle are doing it for two reasons: Cow-calf or feedlot production, although there are variations between these two sectors, and some ranchers operate in both fields. Small and new cow farms are in a well-positioned spot, as they can fit into a niche market. For example, natural, organic, source-verified, and grass-fed beef can be sold direct-to-consumer or to local specialty markets. Consider this when developing your business plan.

Breakdown All Necessary Assets

Raising a herd and the assets needed to start your cattle farm must be broken down to determine what’s needed. Start by narrowing the assets down to two parts: The herd and what you need to care for them. Figure out what breed of cattle you need for your operation and the requirements, such as property, infrastructure, equipment, feed, etc.

Form a Legal Entity and Register for Taxes

When deciding on a business structure type, the most common include a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation. Establishing a legal entity such as an LLC or corporation can protect you from being held liable if your ranching business gets sued.

As well, you must register for provincial/state and federal taxes before opening your cattle business. Start by applying for an EIN (Employer Identification Number) to register for taxes.

Stay Up to Date With Record Keeping

Keeping records current can help you make better production decisions and qualify you for risk management tools in the event of a legal issue.

Never Stop Learning

As fellow ranchers will tell you, years in the cattle industry doesn’t mean you ever stop learning. You’ll likely make mistakes and learn more than a thing or two during your time on the ranch. Make note of these things, as they might help your production and business efforts down the line.


Starting and maintaining a cattle ranch is no easy feat, but raising profitable and healthy herds can be a satisfying venture. When raising your cattle, you’ll want the best equipment possible. Real Industries Ltd. has got you covered. We’ve provided livestock equipment across Canada and the U.S. for many years, and you can benefit from it next. Contact us today.