One of the most hotly contested topics in many rural communities is determining when a property is considered to be a farm, and when it is considered to be a ranch. To answer the question, we first need to understand exactly what makes each what it is.
What makes a farm a farm?
The farm is defined as a location in which farming is done. While we tend to think of a farm as land, it actually doesn’t have to be. Any location that is used for growing crops or raising animals (including aquaculture) can be considered a farm, even if it’s situated on a lake or river.
Most farms produce more than one type of crop or product, though some farms specialize in the growing of just one thing. Examples of specialty farms are fish farms, dairy farms and orchards.
The key to understanding the farm is production, and especially varied production. Even in specialized farms the goal is to produce more than one marketable item. Using a dairy farm as an example, excess calves, replacement heifers, older cows, cull cows and even bull semen can be marketed and sold in addition to its main product; the milk.
To increase production, a farm is intensively supervised and managed. Crops must be planted, watered and harvested; livestock require care, breeding, watering, feeding and more. Farmers spend their time utilizing tools from hoes to tractors to accomplish the many and varied tasks to reach the best outcome they can.
Farms consist of not only the space used for growing, but also the buildings that are required for that growing. Equipment sheds, animal barns, milking parlors, fencing, greenhouses and processing buildings are all part of the farm. A house or houses where the farmer and farm hands reside can also be a part of the farm.
If it’s not being used to make money, is it still a farm?
Yes! Whether a farm is used for individual production or commercial production, the crucial details are the farming itself and production. The home farm is often even more varied than a commercial one, but with the same fundamental goal: to create maximum product from the labor invested.
What makes a ranch different?
Unlike the farm, which is geared towards varied production, ranches are exclusively tied to the raising of grazing livestock. These grazing livestock require large areas for extensive grazing and much less supervision than what occurs on a farm. Animal paddocks are generally much larger in a ranching operation, as are the herds kept on them. Some of the animals you are most likely to see on a ranch are cattle, sheep, goats, horses or a combination of those. Bison and yak are also best managed in a ranch setting, and may be kept in combination with cattle.
Ranchers have the primary responsibility of breeding, managing and selling their livestock. Final production of marketable meat, milk or wool is done offsite and generally by a secondary party. While a ranch may not be a solely commercial endeavor, neither is it a solely personal one. The goal of a ranch is to produce excess grazing animals for resale.
Equipment on the ranch is usually far more limited than what is found on a farm, and often geared towards more heavy-duty usage. Herding livestock can usually be done on horseback or via ATVs, and care can be administered by moving the animals into outdoor corrals rather than barns.
While some ranches do engage in the growing of feed crops such as hay, alfalfa or grains, these items are grown for the primary use of the ranch animals. Excesses may be sold but is not the focus of the ranch.
What about land size?
The key difference between the two is more about how the land is used than anything else. While ranches are usually larger – remember, they are used for larger herds of extensively grazed animals – they aren’t always. Land usage is the farm more important aspect.
Are they really two different things?
Yes and no. While the overall setup and management of the two are different, ranches are fundamentally just a specialized animal farm. In fact, there are very few countries in the world where you will find a ranch – generally just Australia, Canada, Mexico, the United States and Brazil. In other areas what we know of as a ranch is just referred to as a farm!
To summarize, all ranches are farms, but not all farms are ranches. If a piece of land is used primarily for the purpose of raising grazing livestock it is a specialized type of farm called a ranch. If a property is used for any type of farming, crop or animal, it is a farm.
Wow, we dug in there and came full circle back to the beginning. Sometimes, it just takes some pictures and visuals to really get a grasp. So, here are our top listings for farms and our top listings for ranches for sale in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
Or, you can check out our Klamath County Properties for Sale
As always, if you’d like to get in touch with a specialized real estate agent in Klamath Falls, please head to our contact page and send a message to our Klamath Farm & Ranch team