How to Buy a Cattle Ranch
If you don’t instantly associate states like Mississippi or Louisiana with cattle ranching, you’re not alone. Despite that common misconception, both states are home to a viable and thriving cattle industry. In Mississippi and Louisiana, cattle production has a combined production value of over $690 million. With careful and considered research, and of course hard work, cattle ranching in the south can be a rewarding and lucrative farming operation. The process can be overwhelming, so here are a few things to consider when considering a cattle ranch purchase.
Determine Your Cattle Ranch Needs
Consider Your Operational Plan
Operational plans for cattle ranch fall under two models, owner-operators or absentee operators.
- Owner-operators are living and working on the ranch most of the time. The residential accommodations of the ranch become more important if you’re planning to be an owner-operator.
- Absentee owners are typically not involved in the day-to-day operations of the ranch, but rather opt to hire a ranch manager or lease to a neighbor or operator in the area.
Consider Your Operation Type
There is also the consideration for either a stocker or cow-calf operation. Stocker operations are often the only viable option for cattle ranching in some western states because of limited water resources and short grazing terms—neither of which are normal issues in the south.
Cow-calf ranching is a year-round and long-term operation where a percentage of your calf crop is terminal, while the remaining cattle are kept in your herd. These operations also call for more facilities, infrastructure, and water resources.
Find a Ranch for Sale
After determining your needs, locate a ranch to buy. The search can be made easier via online search engines for ranch properties like land.com for both Mississippi and Louisiana. You always have the option of contacting a local expert who has an “ear to the ground.” The team at your local Southern AgCredit office are a great resource when looking for farms and ranches for sale. They may have information on ranches that are only available by word-of-mouth.
Inspect Your Prospective Ranch
Water Access & Availability
The most critical element in any viable cattle ranch operation is water resources. Riparian areas and water rights for irrigation are key, but the placement of tanks, wells, and underground piping for your herd is essential as well.
Unlike ranches in the west, the abundance of water isn’t a problem, however, the quality of the water available remains a key factor in your herd’s health. It’s perfectly legal to drill a well in Mississippi and northern Louisiana, as long as it’s done by a licensed contractor. The National Water Information System lets you get a brief look at groundwater sites and springs in and around your ranch.
Condition of Infrastructure and Working Facilities
Before purchasing your ranch, you should always know the condition of the infrastructure and facilities. Your basic infrastructure includes fencing, cross-fencing, piping, water tanks, gates, and cattle guards. The size of your ranch could mean miles of fencing to replace if repairs are needed, costing you tens of thousands of dollars or more.
The working facilities must be in good condition, especially those of a cow-calf ranch. Facilities like corrals, chutes, scales and medical facilities are instrumental to the ranch’s success.
Apply for Financing
Many use agricultural financing in the purchase of their cattle ranches. Southern AgCredit is an experienced lender of cattle ranch loans in northern Louisiana and Mississippi. For more information about our livestock loans, fill out the form below, and a loan administrator will contact you shortly.