Ranch Manager

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A ranch manager is responsible for overseeing ranch operations and ensuring herd health.

Duties

A ranch manager provides general management for the entire ranch operation and reports directly to the ranch owner.  The manager is responsible for guaranteeing herd health and delivering a proper nutritional program to all cattle kept on the property.  Their duties may include making decisions on which animals to cull or purchase, assisting with calving, giving vaccinations and other injections, branding or tagging cattle, performing artificial inseminations, palpating cows, sorting and penning cattle by horseback or ATV, transporting animals to and from auctions, and keeping detailed records on each animal in the herd.

The ranch manager is also responsible for supervising all ranch employees, veterinarians, vendors, guests, and any other visitors that have access to the property.  They may be involved with baling hay or other forages, performing light maintenance and repair work, managing the ranch budget, and purchasing supplies and equipment as needed.  They must also ensure that the ranch infrastructure (including fences, roads, gates, and equipment) is kept in good condition.  Managers of “guest ranch” properties (that cater specifically to tourists) may have additional public relations duties such as welcoming guests upon arrival and ensuring a quality guest experience.

Career Options

A ranch manager can transition into a variety of other roles in the cattle industry including ranch or farm owner, livestock feed sales representative, livestock auctioneer, livestock appraiser, herdsman, agricultural extension agent, beef extension agent, or other farm support positions.

Education & Training

A degree is not required to become a ranch manager, but many of them do hold a degree in agriculture, animal science, business, or a closely related field.  Significant experience working with cattle is mandatory for nearly all positions with this title.  Many ranch managers start out as ranch staff members, assistant managers, or herdsmen before rising to the top managerial role.

  There are also many beef internship programs that can help an aspiring ranch manager gain valuable practical experience.

Candidates for ranch management roles should have a good working knowledge of rotational grazing and pasture management.  They should be able to perform general maintenance and repairs on the ranch, particularly with regard to fences, buildings, grounds, and heavy equipment.  Electrical, plumbing, and carpentry skills are highly valued skills for a ranch manager.

Ranch managers should also have the ability to ride and care for horses if they are used on the property.  Some farms use ATVs to work their cattle, but horses are still frequently utilized for sorting and penning.  A CDL license may be necessary for those managers involved with transporting cattle to and from auction or processing sites.

Salary

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) salary survey does not separate ranch manager position earnings from the more general category of farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers.  The median pay for this broader category was $69,000 per year in 2012.  It is more difficult to determine the specific earnings for ranch managers since they do not have their own category.

  Many ranch manager positions on major employment sites in 2015 had salaries in the $50,000 range plus additional perks.

Ranch manager positions frequently offer a variety of associated fringe benefits in addition to the standard salary package.  These additional perks may include free housing and utilities provided on site, the use of a farm vehicle, free board for a personal horse, medical insurance, and paid vacation.

Career Outlook

According to data collected by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for farmers, ranchers, and agricultural managers will decrease over the decade from 2012 to 2022.  There may not be a marked change for the specific niche of ranch managers, however, as the number of ranches should remain fairly steady during that time period.  Ranch managers with significant experience and technical skills will enjoy the best job prospects in the field.