The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no but is dependent on a number of factors.
Firstly, it must be considered that the profitability of a ranch will be somewhat determined by the price of cattle at a given time. Cattle prices are generally cyclical and tend to rise and fall every few years. This cyclical nature means that ranch owners may have some very profitable years and other years which are a struggle. However, this could be said for almost any type of business since the economy itself is cyclical by nature.
Ranch size is another determining factor and the economies of size are significant in ranching, meaning larger ranches will benefit. However, small ranches can still prove profitable when the owner has another source of income and keeps overheads low.
The good news is overheads can be kept to a minimum on a ranch farm and the cow-to-worker ratio can be as big as 800-1200 cows per worker. Land and land associated costs are likely to be the greatest cost incurred. If a ranch owner does decide to invest in fencing or a water system, they
must be sure their debt-to-equity ratio is low enough to borrow. Unfortunately, too much debt is the cause of failure for many businesses.
In order to keep costs to a minimum and profits at a maximum, calving season should be in sync with nature. In this way, the need for supplements is reduced and the need for fed feed is eliminated. Of course, grazed feed is the ideal method as it is practically free and does not require equipment.
So, as you see profitable ranching is very much possible and can be a very rewarding, fulfilling way of life.
If you have any questions or queries about ranch real estate in Northern California or any of our ranch property listings, do not hesitate to contact us here or by phone, on 530-949-4241.