Four Mistakes That Will Turn Your New Ranch Into a Nightmare
Are you interested in snagging farm land or a cattle ranch for sale? When you find the right farm land or ranch for sale, it can be an incredibly rewarding. Finding the ranch for sale that meets your needs, budget, and personal capacity allows you to live off your own land, perhaps make a profit, and feel the satisfaction of soaking in the crisp country air as the sun rises. That is the American dream.
However, if done wrong, buying a ranch for sale can turn into a sinkhole of money, that demands more time and energy that you have, and become a beast that you can’t control. Before checking out any potential cattle ranches, make sure that you avoid these common mistakes:
Four Big Mistakes to Avoid While Purchasing Ranch Land
- MISTAKE: Assuming that the land will support the animals you need to raise in order to subside on the land, or turn a profit.
Cattle require a great deal of space. Even if you have plenty of acreage, each cow or bull eats a great deal of vegetation every day. If you don’t have enough land to rotate the areas they eat, the cattle will quickly leave your land empty and have nothing to eat. Unfortunately, you cannot take the sellers word for how much cattle the land has supported in the past. This could easily be over-inflated. Additionally, there’s no way to know if the cattle were malnourished and unhealthy due to their poor living conditions.
Before buying any land to support cattle, contact the USDA and get a reliable report on the land use, soil, and vegetation, to gain a reliable idea of how much cattle the land can support.
- MISTAKE: Assuming the cattle will generally tend to themselves.
Cattle spend their days grazing all by themselves. What do you have to do, other than herding them onto the scale when it’s time to sell them? Actually, cattle require a large amount of work. The land must be maintained in order for it to meet the needs of the cattle. The cattle themselves must be tended to, receive medical care, and mating your cattle to propagate your stock is an art onto itself. Even a small amount of livestock will require 20 hours of work per week. If you don’t have this time lying around, you’ll have hire someone to do it, which dips into your profit margins (or puts you in the red). Before getting into the ranching business part or full time, talk to other ranchers with similar sized land and herds, ask the tough questions about the time commitment that you’ll be subject to if you jump in the ranching world.
- MISTAKE: Relying too heavily on agricultural tax benefits.
The IRS offers certain tax benefits for being in the agricultural industry. However, making decisions based on what gives you the greatest tax benefit could steer your ranch into failure, quickly. You should consider what is best for the future of your ranch (and your own personal financial and mental well-being) first and foremost, and then apply for tax credits accordingly; don’t let the tax benefits be the driver of your ranching decision. And we cannot stress this enough — you must use a tax professional who specializes in agricultural tax law. This subject is complicated and if you file your taxes wrong, it could cost you a lot of money in penalties and missed savings.
- MISTAKE: Buying the wrong cattle.
When you’re first getting in the ranching game, it’s too easy to spend way more than you should on cattle, or buy poor quality livestock that won’t generate the kind of income you need to keep your ranch afloat, or both. Before ever buying ranch land or cattle, get into the ranching community. Make connections with ranchers who will teach you the ropes. Network with a variety of people along the cattle supply chain. Get an understanding of the world before you dive in.
Owning your own ranch is an incredible satisfying opportunity, if you approach it right. If you make one of these common mistakes, it can be a huge bummer. Be smart about how you get your ranch running and make the most of it!