Livestock Rancher: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

Livestock ranchers breed and sell animals for food items, such as meat, eggs and dairy products. Most U.S. ranchers are self-employed. Although there are no formal education requirements, a college degree is becoming increasingly important for success in the field.

View 1 Popular School »

Livestock Rancher Job Description

Most ranches are family operated; larger ranches hire full-time and seasonal workers to help. Livestock ranchers own or rent the land on which they breed, raise and sell animals. Products vary for each ranch depending on the geographic location, climate and space available. Cattle, pigs and poultry are a few of the animals raised for food. Sheep and goats are raised for wool and dairy products.

The salaries of ranchers are directly linked to the success of the ranch, and they fluctuate depending on the weather, variations in feed prices and the market value of animal products. Livestock ranchers work year-round and are often unable to take vacations. In some areas where ranching is a common lifestyle, neighbors help each other with certain larger tasks like cattle branding and moving, or assist when emergencies such as wildfires occur.

Duties

The duties of ranchers depend upon the size and type of ranch they operate. Some livestock ranchers who run large operations focus solely on the business end, leaving the actual care and feed of animals to others, while those who run smaller ranches may have a hand in all of the operations.

Ranchers must keep detailed financial records and be active in the marketing and sale of their products. They use computer technology, such as financial spreadsheets and databases, in order to manage much of the ranch business. They also must negotiate with financial institutions in order to obtain loans for purchase of livestock, machinery and other necessary items. They may attend ranching conferences in order to exchange information and learn new skills. Those who hire employees are responsible for setting policies, ensuring efficiency and keeping salary and scheduling information.

Making sure that the livestock is fed, given water, kept in humane living conditions and successfully reproducing are all part of a rancher's duties. Additional duties that ranchers may oversee or perform include assisting in the birth of animals, castrating, shearing, docking, dehorning, branding or tagging. A few ranchers butcher their own meat for sale, but most sell whole livestock to be butchered elsewhere. Some dairy ranchers may choose to make their own dairy products, such as cheese, butter and milk.

Requirements

Although there are no formal education requirements for becoming a rancher, there is much to learn, from how to care for animals and operate machinery to hiring employees and marketing products. Some people attend college to learn these skills, while others gain firsthand knowledge of ranch operation by working under experienced ranchers or on family farms.

Numerous trade and vocational schools, colleges and universities offer associate and bachelor's degrees in agriculture. Programs allow students to specialize in subjects such as ranch and feedlot operations or agricultural business. Students learn about ranch management, principles of feeding and care, animal and meat marketing, new ranching technology and animal health. Apprenticeships in ranching are also available which teach about ranching through hands-on experience.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Ranchers, farmers and other agricultural managers earned an annual median salary of $70,110 in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). A fairly steep decline of 19% was expected for these jobs, from 2012-2022, the BLS projected, due to continuing consolidation within the agricultural industry.

Show me popular schools

Related to Livestock Rancher: Job Description, Duties and Requirements

  • Related
  • Recently Updated
  • Popular
New Food Rules for Mexico's Students

Childhood obesity is a recognized epidemic in the U.S. that has been targeted by health experts and politicians. Now officials...

Brain Food: Myths and Realities

MSG won't destroy your brain, nor will aluminum cookware give you Alzheimer's (also, shocker, Twinkies don't actually last...

Explore World Cuisine in the Blogosphere: 10 Top Food Blogs

As food culture has exploded, so has the culinary blogosphere. There are hundreds of cuisine blogs out there, featuring food...

How to Become a Rancher: Education and Career Roadmap

Find out how to become a rancher. Research the education and training requirements and learn about the experience you need to...

Become a Mexican Food Chef: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Popular School

  • Minimum eligibility requirements:
    • Must live within close proximity to school locations
    • Must be graduated from high school by 2011
    School locations:
    • Florida (3 campuses)
    • New York (1 campus)

    Classroom-Based Programs

    What is your highest level of education?

Other Schools:

  • School locations:
    • California (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Stanford University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Massachusetts (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Harvard University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
  • School locations:
    • Pennsylvania (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Pennsylvania include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: First Professional Certificate, Post Master's Certificate, Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Design and Applied Arts
      • Drama and Theatre Arts
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
      • Musical Arts
      • Photography, Film, and Video
  • School locations:
    • Rhode Island (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Brown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Composition
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • North Carolina (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Duke University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Postbaccalaureate Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Comparative Language Studies and Services
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Indiana (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Notre Dame include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • English Language and Literature
      • Foreign Language and Literature
  • School locations:
    • Columbia (D.C.) (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Georgetown University include:
      • Graduate: First Professional Degree, Master
      • Non-Degree: Coursework
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Fine Arts and Studio Art
  • School locations:
    • Tennessee (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at Vanderbilt University include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Undergraduate: Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Biomedical and Medical Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
      • Civil Engineering
      • Computer Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering and Electronics
      • Environmental Engineering
      • Materials Engineering
      • Math
      • Mechanical Engineering
  • School locations:
    • Florida (1 campus)
    Areas of study you may find at University of Florida include:
      • Graduate: Doctorate, First Professional Degree, Master
      • Post Degree Certificate: Post Master's Certificate
      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
    • Agriculture
      • Agricultural Business
      • Animal Science
      • Food Sciences and Technologies
      • Plant Science
      • Soil Science

Popular Schools

Avg. Wages For Related Jobs

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics