Things to Consider When Buying a Ranch in Colorado

Owning a ranch or a piece of farmland can be an extremely rewarding experience. Rural living and fresh air can be appealing, but there are pitfalls to avoid. In this guide, potential buyers can learn about the problems they may experience when evaluating Colorado ranches and land for sale, along with some possible solutions.

Supporting Animals

Some buyers of Colorado horse property overestimate the land’s carrying capacity and, in some cases, a seller may inflate the number of horses a parcel of land can support. Before buying ranch land, the potential buyer should visit the nearest Natural Resources Conservation Service office. This branch of the USDA can provide information on precipitation, soil type, forage conditions, and vegetation, which makes it easier for buyers to predict the productive potential of the property.

Time Constraints

Many believe things will simply fall into place but, on a ranch, that’s not the case. Cattle, horses, and other animals require a substantial amount of care, and many people buy Colorado ranches only to see that they spend most of their time managing the land. Other times, a buyer may not consider how long it takes to get to the property or to an outside job. By planning ahead and considering the time needed for ranch maintenance and animal care, buyers can learn how rural living will affect their lives and those of their families.

Buying Livestock

New buyers often pay too much for animals, buy low-quality stock, or both. In some instances, an inexperienced buyer may purchase genetically inferior animals that produce substandard products. This can be problematic on for-profit ranches. However, with advanced research, the development of a support network, and conversations with experienced livestock buyers, new ranch owners can learn enough to avoid losing money and wasting resources.

Knowing the Right Practices and People

Many land buyers significantly underestimate the sheer difficulty of ranching and farming, and some believe that anyone can do it. However, as many have found, this is far from true. Ranch and farm owners must know about topics such as:

  • Fertilization and grazing management
  • Management of the genetics, nutrition, and health of livestock
  • Marketing
  • Business management (taxes and accounting)

Furthermore, a rancher or farmer needs a reliable source of information. Many landowners get advice from the wrong places, and to make matters worse, some offer assistance in hopes of making a sale or taking advantage of a buyer’s inexperience. Potential ranchers should learn about the process before purchasing a Colorado ranch for sale. Cooperative extension meetings are a great place to start, and they can put new landowners in touch with experts who can provide real advice and help.

Income Expectations

Some landowners run into issues when they overestimate their annual production’s value. Cattle and other livestock are agricultural commodities, and prices may fluctuate based on the world or national supply and demand. Therefore, gross income can vary significantly. The average weaned calf is worth anywhere from $250-$400. If breeding failure, herd replacement, and mortality are considered, an owner may gross $200-$350 per breeding cow per year. To prevent disappointment and losses, it pays to be conservative when estimating the potential for gross income.

Realizing Tax Savings From Agriculture

People often believe that buying agricultural land and property will bring them significant tax savings. Oftentimes, bad management decisions are made in efforts to cut taxes. Before buying Colorado hunting property and ranches for sale, it’s important to review the plans with an agricultural tax expert.

Buying Things Other Than Livestock and Land

In their excitement, buyers of Colorado ranches and land may buy too much or the wrong kinds of equipment. Some believe it’s necessary to buy a new truck, tractor, trailer, ATV, and more. While buying these things can be exciting, they can also increase production costs and eat into profits. On bigger ranches, an owner may also fail to consider expenses for hired labor. The solution is to carefully consider each purchase and to ensure it’s really necessary for the operation of the ranch. If something is needed, the owner should find out whether it can be borrowed or rented instead of being purchased. Ranch owners have many qualities, but frugality is one of the most desirable.

Estimated Spending Per Year

Owners frequently underestimate the cost of ranch life. While bills are paid at various times throughout the year, sales typically occur much less frequently. If there’s no land debt and the rancher is efficient, the annual cost per breeding cow may be $200 or less. However, it’s more likely that the cost will reach $300 or $400 per year. Avoid significant losses and other pitfalls by planning for the worst, developing a workable budget, and working with knowledgeable financial experts.

Owning ranch land in Colorado can be the realization of a lifelong dream, but it’s not without its share of risks. By following the tips above, planning carefully, and working with the right team of advisors, even a new landowner can be successful.

What to Look For in Different Types of Colorado Ranches for Sale

Colorado has always been considered something of a last frontier when it comes to usable land. While much of the rest of the country gives way to cities and suburbs, the state continues to boast large tracts of wilderness for hunting and numerous ranching properties. Whether a buyer’s interest specifically lies in fully operational Colorado cattle ranches for sale or simply finding some recreational land on which to hunt, fish, or keep horses, it’s important not to just buy the first property that sounds good sight unseen. Buying land is a serious investment, so buyers should give some thought to the property’s current and intended uses to ensure they are in line with their personal and financial goals.

What to Look For in Cattle Ranches

Buying a cattle ranch can be a fantastic business venture. Raising cattle takes a lot of work, but it pays off in a return on the initial investment when it is done correctly. Even if potential buyers stumble on what seems like the perfect investment, it’s important to take a look at how the ranch is doing financially and figure out how much additional investment would need to be made to make it sufficiently profitable. Purchasing cattle ranches for sale from a company that specializes in ranches and recreational land makes this challenge much easier.

How to Choose a Horse Ranch

Horse ranches are very different. Most people searching for Colorado horse property for sale are less concerned about the bottom line and more concerned about having enough land to enjoy equestrian activities. The needs of horses are also very different from those of cattle, so be sure to find a property that already has well-constructed and currently usable stables and grazing fields. If the intent is to turn the land into a business, the presence or absence of existing structures like ranch houses and guest houses on any given piece of property can make the decision a little bit easier.

Buying Hunting Land

Passionate sportsmen care less about existing structures and pastures for grazing than they do about game. A Colorado hunting property that is up for purchase should be sufficiently remote to allow a wide variety of local game, such as deer, elk, and upland game. This is often the first priority of avid hunters who are just as happy to construct a small cabin and live simply miles from civilization as they are in a classic ranch house with modern amenities. Although hunting certainly can be profitable most buyers consider the thrill of the hunt a reward in its own right. Find hunting property for sale in Colorado through a company that works with hunting enthusiasts and can help you find what they need.

Finding Fly Fishing Ranches

Those looking for Colorado fly fishing ranches for sale have very particular needs and should absolutely take a careful look at the water supply on any property they are considering for purchase. While the value of a cattle ranch is obvious more or less throughout the year, it only makes sense to buy a property for fly fishing after it has been evaluated during fly fishing season. Put that enthusiasm on ice until spring.

Your Dream Home is Waiting on One of these Colorado Ranches for Sale

Owning the Colorado Lifestyle

Some would like to make a permanent move to Colorado and continue the adventure of their lives surrounded by the beauty of the Rockies, enjoying a retreat from a hectic routine. The dream may include owning land where they can pursue their passion for hunting, fishing, or horses. Picture yourself relaxing on the porch with a cool drink at the end of a full day and watching a glorious sunset slowly fading behind the backdrop of the Rockies.

Colorado’s Weather is as Great as the Lifestyle

Many people don’t realize it, but Denver boasts more sunny days than San Diego and is much cooler and more comfortable. Of course, there is snow in the winter, making possible the world-class skiing in Vail, Aspen, and other locations that Colorado is famous for. Although winters can be snowy, Denver’s temperatures tend to be milder than might be expected.

During the spring and summer, wildflowers provide bright highlights in the valleys and along streams. While riding, expect the occasional sighting of bison or elk calves, bear cubs, or perhaps even an elusive mountain lion.

Cattle Ranching and Raising Horses in Colorado

It’s impossible to think of Colorado without including horses and cattle. Some of the world’s finest are bred and raised on the horse and cattle ranches for sale in Colorado. While most ranches and farms have at least a few horses for personal use, some properties are superb for the business of horse breeding or cattle ranching on a large scale.

The state’s naturally cool and dry climate creates the perfect environment for horses and cattle. Running a guest ranch expands the possibilities of land ownership in Colorado beyond traditional ranching. If it’s time to turn your ranch dream into reality, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Colorado.

Colorado Farms and Vineyards

Farming is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of Colorado, but there are many beautiful, flourishing farms in the state. There are not as many Colorado farms for sale as other types of properties, but they do exist. As most people are aware, water rights have been an issue throughout the western states. Many of Colorado’s most successful farmers now use modern technologies to deliver only the water needed to crops, producing flourishing fields of corn, sugar beets, onions, and other crops.

Another of Colorado’s surprises is the excellent wine produced in the state. While most vineyards are found on the western slopes of the Rockies, wineries are also springing up on the Front Range.

Hunting and Fishing in Colorado


Fishing enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the opportunity to fly fish for the elusive rainbow trout in one of Colorado’s 6,000 miles of streams. Walleye can be found in many of the more than 2,000 lakes and reservoirs. In all, Colorado offers the opportunity to catch more than 35 different fish species while enjoying some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and best selection of fly fishing properties and ranches for sale.

Trophy trout fishing can be found in many lakes and streams. One of the particular pleasures of purchasing a Colorado ranch or property for sale is the opportunity to fish for the big one without leaving your own property.


Anyone searching for the perfect Colorado hunting property for sale probably already knows that only in Colorado is it still possible to obtain over-the-counter bull elk tags. For hunters, Colorado is truly a dream come to life, featuring some of the world’s best hunting experiences. Hunting in Colorado takes place on both private property and public land.

Proper land management is the reason behind Colorado’s flourishing wildlife. The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife (CPW) partners with many landowners to ensure that Colorado’s wildlife and resources are protected. Landowners who choose to participate profit from the partnership while preserving ecological excellence on their property. The CPW considers that the abundant wildlife and rich opportunities for fishing and hunting would not exist without the support of private landowners. Colorado contains more than 36,000 ranches and farms, totaling approximately 11.5 million acres.

Colorado is home to more elk than anywhere else in the world, making elk the most sought-after big game animal. There are ten other species of big game animals found in Colorado including black bears, antelopes, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and moose. The number of animals available to hunters is calculated each year based on the animal density in a particular GMU (Game Management Unit). The most current information can be found online at “Post-Hunt Population Estimates by Unit.” The USDA Forest Service also posts a map of the state’s many GMUs and the hunting availability and requirements for each.

Private landowners with a minimum of 160 acres can register with the Colorado Division of Wildlife for special vouchers. Ranchers with 12,000 acres or more have the option of partnering with Colorado’s Division of Wildlife to provide hunting opportunities on their land as part of the overall game management program.

Finding the Perfect Property for You

Ranch Marketing Associates is the premier broker of land, ranches and horse properties in the American West. Their knowledgeable brokers live the ranching lifestyle, understanding all the ins and outs of the various properties for sale. Clients interested in investment properties, recreational uses, or taking advantage of the many sporting opportunities will be presented with properties that fulfill their requirements.

Some properties include fully furnished homes with an abundance of grazing acreage while others are more rustic. While cost and location are always important factors, the brokers at Ranch Marketing Associates will ensure that your new property is just what you’ve been searching for.