1. Description


The invention of barbed wire in 1874 changed the landscape of the West from open range patrolled by roaming cowboys to the ranches we know today. The life of a rancher has changed, too. Overgrazing has led to more environmental regulations and a growing interest in raising nontraditional animals such as bison.

But it doesn’t matter whether you raise Holstein cattle or llamas. You’ll still be responsible for the health of your animals and the profitability of your business.   

Ranchers raise cattle for beef, sheep for wool and meat, and other hoofed animals.

“When you do work like this, be it moving hay, or training a horse, or dealing with a sheep, or making a sweater, or fixing a fence -- it's there, you see the work.” Nancy, Shepherd and Horse Trainer

Are You Ready To...?

  • Help a sheep give birth to a lamb
  • Learn some basic veterinary skills
  • Design a new barn for your cows
  • Shear sheep and sell the wool
  • Use a computer database to manage breeding
  • Keep records of purchases and sales for tax purposes
  • Maintain a computerized customer database

It Helps To Be...

Independent. Many ranches are located in isolated areas far from services, so you’ll often be handling your problems on your own -- from fixing a fence to fixing a pick-up. 

Make High School Count

  • Take science courses such as biology and chemistry. These will help you understand how to mix feed and medicine, as well as giving you insight into how animals live and grow.
  • Learn more about food in consumer and family studies classes.
  • Start building the skills you’ll need to run a business. Pay attention in English and math and sign up for classes in computers, business, and accounting.
  • Join FFA or participate in 4-H programs.
  • Work on a local ranch.

Did You Know?

Angus, Limousin, Hereford, Shorthorn, and Charolais are all different breeds of cattle, each with their own unique needs.