Ranch or Farm: The Key Differences You Should Know



by Caroline Kirby

When looking at land to purchase, you have many options and being familiar with the different uses of the land is essential to making the right choice.
One of the most common confusions when it comes to land use is the difference between ranches and farms. Here’s a breakdown of the key differences so that you can look for the land that fits your needs.

Ranch or Farm: What’s the Difference?

Many people use the terms ranch and farm interchangeably, but they’re not the same. While both are typically large plots of land with an agricultural aspect, they do have some specific distinctions.
Some would say that all ranches are farms, but not all farms are ranches. Both generally produce a variety of food or other materials and can come in different forms, but let’s get into the main differences.
Farms are usually smaller than ranches and those who operate farms put time towards maintaining each acre of their land so that it will produce quality crops. Farm use varies across regions and can host different animals, crops, or both. Here are some of the common types of farms:

• Commercial
• Livestock
• Poultry
• Horse
• Dairy
• Arable (crops)
• Mixed (animals and crops)

Whether you’re looking for land to use as a farm to retire on and tend to as a hobby, or you want to expand an existing farming operation, you have many options! Depending on the size and location of your farm, you may even be able to implement extra opportunities to generate extra income. Many farm owners use their property as bed and breakfast, for photoshoots, weddings, or even as a campsite.

While purchasing a farm is a huge investment, when managed properly, you could have a huge return.

On the other hand, ranches are recognized as a specific type of farm. Ranches are big farms on which a majority of the products produced are animals, most being cattle and livestock. Ranches do come in all sizes but are for the most part pretty big.

Curious about raising livestock? A majority of cattle ranches raise beef cattle and involve various ranching activities, such as:

• Moving pastures from one pasture to the other
• Looking after the animals
• Buying and selling animals
• Inspecting, maintaining, and repairing property structures (like fences)

Additionally, with the rise of activities like glamping and the desire to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, many ranches are opening up their extra space to paid visitors. Dude ranches are another popular option that allows guests to visit the ranch and see what life is like and what the job entails. Sometimes visitors even help out with the chores!

While many differences do exist between the two types of land it’s safe to say that neither generates passive income. No matter the route you choose to take with your ranch or farm, it will be a large investment that requires a lot of work. You can browse hundreds of available properties across the U.S. right here on LandHub.com!

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