A ranch purchase is usually made for a specific purpose such as for investment, hunting or fishing retreat, family lifestyle, or resource production or livestock operations. The purchase requires knowledge of the region’s surrounding land use rules, wildlife and water resources and how these affect the current and future value of their land. It may take years of extensive ranching experience to know how to adequately manage all aspects of one’s ranch in order to keep it productive and maintain or increase profitability.
Without personally operating the ranch, it’s difficult for ranch owners to know where the necessary investments should be made and how much to invest. Hiring a reputable and experienced Ranch and Resource Manager or Management Team is a necessity for most production and working ranches. The responsibilities of a qualified Ranch Manager or Ranch Management Team should include a thorough knowledge of the following areas of ranching operations:
Crop and Livestock Production: An education and hand’s on experience in the crop and livestock production cycle includes experience and education in plant and animal biology and health, machine mechanics, agricultural marketing, soil and breeding facility preparation, planting or breed production management, plant and animal nutrient and diet management, pest and disease management, and irrigation and drainage logistics.
Natural Resource Management: An education and hand’s on experience in a variety of agro-ecosystem sciences and ecological principles including grassland and wetland management, land reclamation, timber harvest and clear-cutting, waste management and land-use allocation, fish and wildlife habitat restoration and reproduction management, and water flow and livestock reproduction cycles all ensure a more accurate calculation of nature’s gross margin and ability to profit.
Financial Planning, Budgeting, and Accounting: Knowledge of land-use regulations and policies, ability to form and maintain compliant working relationships with local land-governing agencies, ability to analyze, create and maintain daily balance sheets and stock-flow or crop-growth plans is critical. In addition, one must be able to value stock and crops accurately, negotiate purchase and sales contracts, create and or analyze gross margin reports and profit-and-loss ledgers accurately, benchmark and forecast, and monitor, report and communicate day-to-day costs, profitability and growth activities and objectives to the ranching team and ranch owners effectively.
Ranch Administration and Recruitment: A ranch manger must have the ability to recognize and recruit productive and dedicated ranch cowboys that can implement a working ranch’s crop and/or livestock production goals, follow direction, work in harsh climates and conditions, year-round and have a respect and dedication to the business, not just the land, is important. Ranch Managers and Management Teams must have a thorough understanding of the region of the ranch and how all aspects of a piece of property and the land surrounding it affect each other. They listen to the needs of the ranch owner and work closely with him or her to determine the long and short term uses for the property.
Ultimately, their role of a Ranch Manager is to utilize, both, their hands-on experience and physical ability as well as their intellectual problem solving and analytical skills to find the most effective and efficient solutions for making changes to or enhancing property and the livestock or crops on it in a way that not only sustains the unique ecosystems and wildlife on the ranch but which also supports the ability to achieve financial gains from the ranch or farming operation they manage.