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  • Writer's pictureKristal Wight

Isn't a Ranch and a Farm the Same Thing?

Updated: Apr 18, 2023

Photo by TF Studios

Throughout my life I've had to correct many people on what the difference between a ranch and a farm is. Normally the conversation starts with me telling someone (who I'm going to call Phil) about how I work on a ranch, and them asking me how many cows I have and what I do on a daily to run the place.

Then someone else walks up (I'm going to call them Sally) and asks what we're talking about, and Phil proceeds to tell Sally that I live on a farm and that I have fields and cows.

Normally, I would want to correct Phil and tell him that a ranch and a farm are very different things. But I don't do that because he still wouldn't understand the difference even after I explain it to him. So I'm going to take the time right now to tell you what the difference is and how a farm and a ranch are very different things.

So let's start off with what a ranch is. A ranch is a place where animals are raised in order to produce meat. Unlike farmers, ranchers call their land pastures and farmers call their land fields. Both are use areas of land, but there's a difference in how the land is used to produce.

A farm is a place where animals are plants raised to rear a profit (eg. dairy farm, crop farm). Unlike ranchers, farmers utilize their land to grow crops and or raise animals to get products. Some examples of this would be a dairy farm getting milk from cows, or a crop farm raising vegetables and other plants for harvesting.

Another big difference between the two would be that they both have different things stored in their barns or around the property. A farm typically has big farming equipment like a plow or a combine/harvester. A ranch has animals, feed, and other various things related to keeping livestock healthy and happy.

On another hand, a farmer and a rancher focus on different things. A rancher focuses on animal health, feed prices, and selling prices for their animals. A farmer focuses on water, growth, and commodities and produce.

So next time Phil says, "Hey, don't you live on a farm?" I can say, "No, I live on a ranch with cattle and pastures. We don't use our land to grow crops, so it isn't a farm."

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