Honored Advisor
Posts: 11,091
Registered: ‎05-13-2010

Re: Looking at establishing a cattle ranch, anyone have recommendations on location?

Vthe great thing about being an RN, compared to a lot of professions, is that you can tend to pick up as many or as few shifts as you want in home healthcare, or relief in hospitals, in most markets. I have a good friend and a new acquaintance, both in their seventies, who either just retired, or are in working retirement, for the extras.

We, too, are newly back in beef cattle. Our strength is mostly what Jim mentioned...having a good number of acres in well-established grass. That can be hard to afford, and you honestly need a couple of years to get stands established, before theycan take much grazing pressure.

Then, there is the infrastructure of fencing and watering stations. We had maybe 2/3 of our pastures ( not hayfields, which are additional acres) fenced with underground pipe and freezeproof stations built. Still have another 22 acres of new fall fescue we want to contain and plumb.

We bought a good portable corral system, so we can transport it from farm to farm. Already had adequate trucks and trailers, tractors for moving bales. You can probably buy hay when needed cheaper than you can make your own.

Cows are what old farmers do around our Virginia home farms...keeping their land clean, their hand in. They enjoy the haying and have paid-for equipment, so the costs aren't prohibitive.

The pastures are generally land that is marginal, due to being highly erodible, so not competing for prime crop production. There are enough biosolids management companies doing business out of highly populated cities nearby, to keep soil amendment costs negligible. There is still enough cropping around to keep custom applicators in business, so you can get a pass done for weed control when necessary.

I would not get into a position where I had to rely on grain for feed at all. Mike buys a couple bags of sweet feed once in a while, for baiting this herd, not all of which are trained to rotational grazing yet. The lagging few are catching on, to the open gate being fresh grass.

You may decide to go AI, to tighten up your calving season, and aboid having to work with a bull on your know the drill, I sm sure. There are many decisions to be made, including marketing.
If you have any notions of going the value-added or direct sales routes, you will also want a location not too far from the slaughterhouses that would harvest and package your meat. Some states have a slew of them ( like NC) while others ( like VA) have very few and far between.

Count every mile to market point as $1 you have to sacrifice. If for selling processed meat, double the miles for processing and retrieving, then there are the miles / hours to sales points.

It is a whole pocture, with many parts. We are fortunate that many of them were already in place for us, so we basically added cows and the corral. I don't know how many years and how many $$$ it woukd take to get up to speed from scratch. I'd add that you could try to buy into an operating cattle farm, which would essentially make it a turnkey thing, but $$$$!!!!!!!