Different Roles Found On A Ranch Different Roles Found On A Ranch

Different Roles Found On A Ranch

Volume 4  Ranches 

Published: April 13, 2020


There are many different potential roles on a property. Your exact needs will be determined by the type of property you own and its features and uses. The successful operation of a property, whether it's a farm or a ranch, starts with making sure you have the right people for your property's particular requirements.

Consider this list of roles that might be found on a ranch. 

The Ranch Hand typically has a collection of duties, such as checking herds, fence building, some equipment operation, hand irrigation, mucking out stalls and landscaping.  This is a task level worker. 

Herdsman has specific skills that are only acquired with years of learning and doing.  Purebred stock operations benefit most from a dedicated herdsman.  Some smaller or commercial cattle operations will not require a dedicated herdsman.  Because of the specialized nature of the herdsman’s skillset, they might not be qualified or available for overall management duties. 

Ranches require electricians, equipment maintenance and repair, plumbers, welder-fabricators, even ‘chemists’ who are responsible for the use of herbicides (which are regulated).  A busy and productive operation will require all these trade skills.  If subcontractors are not available (or are too costly), a ranch Mechanic must be employed.  It is possible, but not always likely, that one individual can be found who has basic or better skills in each of these specialties.  The true jack-of-all-trades is much less common in the current generation.  Mechanics are also task-level employees that might or might not be able to work as a general ranch hand or with livestock.  Remember that a good mechanic is best with his hands and tools, general management is probably not his strongest suit. 

Let’s not confuse farming with ranching.  They often go together, but they are distinctly different activities.  Can a cowhand drive a swather? Of, course.  But will he also know what crops to plant and when?  When to harvest or market them?  Again, the best combination of skills and abilities in one person is wherever you might find them.  For planning purposes, farming and Farmers need to be considered for their own peculiar requirements. 

Landscapers, carpenters, foresters, etc There are endless possible needs for these tasks, great and small.  This list is dictated by the way a property is put together, what it includes, and how it is organized to operate.  Specialty trades are needed on this basis.  Consider that wildlife and environmental stewardship require additional knowledge and experience to reach those goals set by the owner or by regulatory agencies with an expressed interest in your land and operation. 

Foreman excels a one thing: getting things done.  He is an effective supervisor of all worker types discussed above.  Workers need leadership and direction.  A good foreman can provide this.  And, the effective foreman works right alongside his ranch team and will readily do any work need done.  A smaller or less complex property simply might not warrant a manager.  If it makes you feel better to refer to your foreman as your ‘ranch manager’, that’s fine.  Just don’t let the use of the term cause a mistake in hiring the wrong individual for a job they are either under- or over-qualified for. 

One test is this: if you were only present on the ranch four weeks each year and, in your absence, the operation was a success in every way – a Ranch Manager was responsible. 

A manager has the unique ability to comprehend the needs of the land in their care and implement the vision of the owner.  A manager assesses, plans and designs, then execute.  He, along with the approval of the owner, establishes policies and carries out those plans and policies.  This is possible because of the experience and reputation he brings with him.  Success is not the absence of challenges a property presents, rather the manager’s approach to those challenges.  Wishing that a certain individual would ‘rise to the challenge’, without the clear evidence that he has done it before, is not a good bet in any profession. 

So, the goal is to not hire a foreman, when it is a manager that is needed.  The other side of the same coin is: don’t hire a manager when all that is required is a decent foreman.

Dan Leahy

Dan Leahy

DL Resource Management, LLC


Ragged Mountain Ranch


Ranches of this size are very rare in this part of Colorado. With miles of National Forest border, including two inholdings, numerous ponds, a small reservoir, seasonal creeks, irrigated hay fields, dark timber, aspen groves, Stunning views from everywhere on the ranch offer many opportunities for possible future homesites. The elk and mule deer hunting is superb, with large herds of elk and solitary big bulls and bucks cruising the ranch.

$45,369,000 | 6,483± Acres

Four Creeks Sporting Ranch


With over 10 miles of live water and wildlife-rich terrain, the Four Creeks Sporting Ranch creates a private outdoor sanctuary that one can enjoy year-round. Located south of Big Timber, Montana, and adjoining millions of acres of beautiful public land the private ranch offers its new owner wide open spaces on a blank canvas. The property has limited improvements and is not protected by a conservation easement.

$10,750,000 | 4,842± Acres

Corbly Mountain Ranch


The Corbly Mountain Ranch offers a wide variety of recreational pursuits from hunting, hiking, biking, horseback riding, and whatever your heart desires. With private and direct access to the forest service, the possibilities are endless. Only 25 minutes from downtown Bozeman and 15 minutes from the airport the location is convenient while being at the end of the road and very private. Along with great views and many building sites, the Ranch is a must-see.

$13,750,000 | 541± Acres



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