What do ranchers do?

Barley, which is often used to feed livestock.

Livestock farmers raise cattle, animals raised for fiber, food or work. A livestock farmer can handle anything from a small family farm to a large commercial farming operation, handling animals such as goats, chickens, horses, sheep, cattle and turkeys, among others. Some cattle ranchers learn their craft through apprenticeship, often on a family farm, while others acquire skills through training at vocational schools and colleges and on farms that accept employees interested in learning the agricultural craft.

A young boy on a goat farm.

The average cattle breeder tends to wear a lot of hats. He or she is involved in raising livestock, making decisions about when to breed, which animals to breed, and how breeding should progress to reveal positive traits or preserve a bloodline. The farmer can also collect semen for sale to other farms or artificial insemination on a farm where animals are not raised directly. During pregnancy and parturition, animals are closely monitored for signs of distress, especially if they are of high value. Livestock farmers keep meticulous records on breeding and genetics with the aim of raising healthy animals and keeping track of the animals in their care and the animals they sell.

Cattle ranchers can trade with cattle.

On a day-to-day basis, a cattle breeder supervises the care and feeding of the animals. He or she may provide basic veterinary care for injured or sick animals, follow a veterinarian’s recommendations to help specific animals recover from illness, or bring in a veterinarian to deal with emerging health issues. The farmer also handles orders for feed and supplies, walks the fences to ensure the animals are properly confined, keeps barns and stable areas clean and tidy, handles waste management, and delegates various tasks to staff.

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Horses are often raised on cattle ranches.

In the case of cattle raised for meat, the farmer supervises the slaughter or arranges for the animals to be sold to a slaughterhouse or feedlot. Dairy animals such as cows also require special care, including daily milking and milk processing. Animals used for fiber, such as sheep, must be sheared regularly and may require special treatments to maintain fiber quality, another task that falls on the shoulders of the cattle rancher. If livestock keepers work with animals raised for their work, they also participate in training and selling or renting those animals, whether oxen used for plowing or horses ridden recreationally.

Cattle ranchers can train draft cattle to plow.

The work of cattle ranchers is never done. They tend to get up extremely early to start farm chores, from milking to ordering feed, and go to bed late after putting the animals to bed and dealing with paperwork that couldn’t be completed during the day. . This type of work is also very physically demanding as livestock keepers must be able to handle large and sometimes recalcitrant animals as well as haul heavy loads of feed and manure.

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