“Retiring to Ranching”


Ag Biz News Column
Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent –Ag/NR
Smith County


Retiring to Ranching

Retirement for many means slowing down or having ‘free’ or leisure time to pursue interests you and your spouse have dreamed of for years.  Recreation, hobbies, new life skills, travel, family time, and more are what a lot of people look for in retirement.  Some are retiring to ranching because they have always dreamed of owning and managing a ranch.  There are some considerations to think about when retiring to ranching.

Communication is one important factor to consider when retiring to ranching.  Married couples need to have mastered the art of communication.  Taking a ten day vacation may be a problem when     calving season starts on a group of cattle.  Is starting your ranch the beginning of a family ranching heritage?  Do subsequent generations share the same vision and desire to own or manage the ranch?

Couples retiring to ranching need to clearly establish and outline their goals for the ranch.  Goals should be specific, measurable, attainable and related.  Some goals for the ranch may take more than one generation to complete.  Will you own the ranch or lease pasture in your area?  Do you have a preferred livestock species you want to raise?  What are the natural resource goals for the ranch?

Financial considerations should be discussed in the beginning and set goals here as well.  Profit is income exceeding expense.  Money is a personal matter but it is important to have a business plan in place for the ranch.  Realize there are expenses and investments when purchasing a ranch.

There are resources out there for those interested in retiring to ranching.  Visit with neighbors with similar ranching interests.  The Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service is a good resource with a vast array of information, access to over 200 subject matter specialists, and a worldwide network of professionals to guide you.  The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Service Agency through USDA are two resources as well.  The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, Farm Bureau, breed associations, consultants, veterinarians, other agricultural organizations, and more can be a good reliable source of information for you when starting a ranching venture.

Retiring to ranching is like retiring to a classroom.  You have a responsibility.  Two percent of the US population feeds this great country and a significant portion of the world.  Ninety-eight percent too often take for granted the availability, affordability, safety, and wholesomeness of their food supply.  Dr. Rick Machen and Dr. Ron Gill, both Livestock Specialist with the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service summed it up this way:

“Don’t miss the opportunities to teach…

the water cycle while watching a creek rise,

the origin of food in the hen house, feed pen, and/or garden,

the meaning of life while caring for a newborn calf,

the fruits of hard work while building a fence,

the value of family involvement while hauling hay,

the characters of stewardship and stockmanship while rotating pastures, and

the complexity and coordination of it all under a starlit sky.”

Information in this article was presented and highlighted in the 59th Annual Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course proceedings held August 2013.  For more information on “retiring to ranching” contact our office at (903) 590-2980.  Plans are to offer a series of workshops titled “Retiring to Ranching” here in Smith County in 2014.  Contact our office for more details if this is an area that you and your spouse are interested in.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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