7 Things You Should Know Before Investing in a Cattle Ranch  


Cattle ranching is a section of agriculture that can be very lucrative. It can also be a stressful endeavor if you’re not prepared for the ins and out of taking care of animals and land at the same time, while still maintaining a realistic profit margin. Before you make this investment, make sure that you find a ranch that is in the best location to do so, and that you’re prepared with an agricultural business model built for success. Above all, make sure you know your rights.  

The cattle business is one that takes specific knowledge of land rights, cattle, water rights, and property investment. If you are prepared to tackle all of these aspects of the business and have the wherewithal to maintain an expansive property, then you’ll be in good shape to run a lucrative ranch. Although cattle ranching isn’t just about profit — it is a sound way to live off the land, take care of animals in a gentle and sustainable way, and live and work in a location that highlights the beauty of the natural environment around you. And if you’re not convinced, just look at the luxury ranches in Colorado.  


Before you invest in a cattle ranch, think about all the factors in buying and sustaining the property. An investment is one that requires planning ahead for the future, as well as staying on top of anything that could potentially go wrong. The more prepared you are, the better the profit will likely be. Think about this investment from all angles.  

  • How much land support is there?  

This is one of the most important subjects associated with cattle ranching. Before you buy a ranch, you should know how many cattle can be supported on the land. The cattle will need quite a lot of the land to graze and roam around. You won’t want them to go hungry or destroy the land, which will affect the property’s worth tremendously. Make sure that the land you have will support the number of cattle you’re planning to raise. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a very wise investment.  

  • Know the difference between recreational and agricultural values  

A ranch’s price point doesn’t just represent the agricultural value of it, but also the recreational value. The recreational value will be represented in the price of all of the land that is included in the property. Ensure that there is enough agricultural space to realistically achieve what you’d like to with the ranch, or else you could end up with more recreational space than you need.  

Often, this will include woods or mountains, which adds value to the ranch in terms of a heightening of lifestyle and natural beauty associated with and included in the land. Make a comparison of how much agricultural space is available versus the recreational space. You can benefit from both financially and personally. 

  • What are your water rights?  

It is critical to know how much of the water that flows through or surrounds your property that you actually have the right to consume or use for irrigation purposes. Your water rights can greatly affect how your ranch runs. If you don’t have the amount of water you need to sustain your ranch, then you might find yourself in dire straits.  

Having current senior water rights means that you will always be assured of a steady flow of water through your land. The risk of drought is always a risk, but if you have a surplus of water on your land, then it won’t be as serious of an issue. You will always have to keep an eye on your water consumption, though. 

If you’re not on the senior list, then those higher on the list than you can change your rights to the water depending on their needs. You’ll need to know where on the list you are in terms of rights to water so you can plan ahead for consumption. You won’t want to take too much of a chance and end up with much less water than you need to keep your ranch running smoothly. Your water rights are almost as important as your rights to land.  

  • Flooding potential and other environmental factors  

While access to water is important for your ranching endeavors, too much of anything can be a bad thing. Looking into the flooding potential of the ranch, as well as any other environmental factors that could naturally affect the property, will be a must.  

Some other factors that might greatly affect the ranch’s property potential include drainage issues, as well as proximity to wetlands and archaeological sites, hazardous waste, and contaminated groundwater. Not only are these ecological issues, but they are factors beyond your control. Look into the surrounding properties as well as the property that you’d like to buy.  

  • What are your neighbors like?  

Even if the land between you and your neighbors is a significant distance away, you’ll want to make sure that you get along with these people, as some issues could arise that are more pressing than simple disagreements over who’s a tree is growing over who’s a fence. Having a good rapport with your neighbor is essential if your land is also a business endeavor.  

There are rules as to crossing another person’s property, so be sure that you and your neighbor are clear on where the lines of your respected properties are.  

  • Access to the property  

Access is also important when it comes to land. If it’s difficult to access because of roads, brush, mountains, and forests, then you could see your property value decline. Depending on where your ranch is situated, it might be more difficult to get to for visitors, vendors, and employees, or even for you, the investor. Maintaining an air of exclusivity is great, but not at risk of profit and functioning.  

  • Population growth 

If you’re interested in a property with a high likelihood of the population growing, you might consider starting your ranch in a more remote location.