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Crucial Steps to Take in Creating a Successful Ranch Management Plan | United Country Real Estate

Posted by abreitenbach on September 1, 2023

We’ve sold and facilitated the purchase of many working ranches and based on our experience, the ranch operations that implemented a well-thought-out management plan resulted in much better transaction outcomes and set future owners for long-term success.

In general, ranch owners direct their attention primarily to day-to-day operations and tend to deprioritize the business aspect of their ranch.  Treating your land, cattle, horses, and other livestock as a part of a well-running organization will open opportunities for faster and more structured growth.

Ranch management is a complex and multifaceted task that encompasses various aspects such as land and resource management, livestock production, financial planning, and marketing strategies. Without a plan, ranchers will most likely face challenges that can hinder growth and profitability.

What is a Ranch Management Plan?

A ranch management plan is a comprehensive strategy developed for the effective and efficient management of a ranch. From land use, livestock management, crop management, water resources, and infrastructure, to wildlife conservation, considering how these elements come together each year is an essential part of the planning process.

Keep in mind optimizing productivity, sustainability, and profitability while ensuring the long-term health and resilience of the natural resources it relies on. You can set yourself up for a successful season each time you prepare and set performance goals.

A ranch management plan often serves as a roadmap for ranch owners to make informed decisions, allocate resources effectively, and mitigate risks, ultimately achieving the desired objectives.

You’ll need to review your management plan at least annually and adjust it based on the current economic state, climate changes, livestock prices, and production efficiency.

The Long-Term Goal or Intent of Your Ranch

Are you planning to eventually phase out your cattle operations, downsize it, or grow it and sell it within the next few years?  Do you have a succession plan in place? Answering these questions can help you establish overall goals and craft a much better plan. If the future sale of your working ranch is your goal, focus on profitability and invest wisely in infrastructure and technology that may bring the highest ROI.

Your plan will be a guideline that hopefully will keep your operations on the right track and aid you in outlining the strategies and actions necessary to meet your objectives.

Pasture and Resource Management

This involves strategically managing the available resources, such as grazing land, water sources, and forage. Consider how climate changes and unpredictable weather events can affect annual production.  The overall intent of a management strategy is preparedness.  Keeping land’s health and productivity at the top of your priority list will make the management process a lot less taxing.

Before implementing any changes or improvements, evaluate the size and condition of your pastures, the quality and availability of water sources, and the overall health of your soil.

Create a comprehensive grazing plan and rotate your livestock regularly to allow your land to rest.

Animals and Equipment

Proper management of animals, implementation of additional equipment, and tech improvements can directly affect the productivity of the ranch.

Factors such as grazing patterns, animal health protocols, and the maintenance of equipment are just a few points to include in your comprehensive ranch management plan.

Planning for Team Size

If your ranch is set to grow by a certain percentage each year, you should include a schedule for hiring employees and adding management personnel. Expanding the number of individuals who will be responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the ranch has to be planned, as hiring the right person may take weeks if not months.

Expenses and Correct Budgeting

Having a financial plan is the main component of a comprehensive ranch management plan.

Tracking cash flow and identifying areas of profitability will help you make informed decisions in the future.

Don’t forget about any additional tax obligations, opportunities for preferred loans, and possibilities for government financial assistance. Research ahead of time will allow you to look at a variety of options when a time arises to purchase new equipment or pay for servicing the existing one.

Marketing Plan

A marketing plan is a great component of your overall plan.  If you are considering any direct-to-consumer sales or planning to lease a portion of your ranch for hunting, including a marketing budget into an overall management plan is wise.

It will help you effectively position yourself in the market and should help bring supplemental income. Focus on identifying any market opportunities and take advantage of the power of digital marketing to expand some of your service offerings.  A strong website, social media, and opening your ranch to tourism may be some of the elements to include in your annual planning.

Improving Ranch Property Income Through Successful Ranch Management Planning

When you sit down to draft a management plan, be prepared that it will take some time and dedication to facilitate a well-structured guide for the future of your ranch. Rely on your management team and your family members involved in the ranch operations to take on some of the elements of future planning. The implementation of it will be a crucial part that’s often difficult when the day-to-day operations tend to drive many of the decisions.  Don’t lose sight of your overall goals that can help you shape a better future for your ranch operation.

Need help finding the ranch of your dreams? Let United Country Real Estate help! Check out these ranch properties.

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