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Farm vs. Ranch : What's the Difference?

12 Aug 2020
by Bownds Ranches

Many of the things you interact with daily, like the meats and veggies you pick up at the grocery store and use for meals come straight from a farm or ranch.

The words farm and ranch are often used interchangeably. However, there are some critical differences between the two. With large property comes significant responsibilities, so hard-working farmers and ranchers are maintaining their lands day in and day out, all year long. Before you look into investing into a large acreage farm or ranch, read the guide below to learn the distinction between the two and which one is right for you.

What is a farm?

A farm is a land that is being cultivated for agricultural purposes. By the United States Department of Agriculture’s definition, a farm is “any operation that is able to produce at least $1,000 in agricultural products in a year.” So whether you’re looking for a small-scale family farm to grow crops or a lager factory farm for raw materials like cotton, they all fall under this umbrella. Good farmlands usually require flat land, rich soil, and strong water supply.

Common types of farms:

  • Crop farms
  • Dairy farms
  • Poultry farms
  • Meat farms (Ranch)

What is a ranch?

By definition, a ranch is a farm. However, not all farms are ranches. A ranch is land where livestock are raised. Ranches are typically known as places where larger livestock are raised to produce meat and other wool and leather products. Ranches can be located anywhere, so long as they have a strong source of water and grasses for the livestock to graze. Grass on the ranch is imperative, so ranchers tend to focus on soil management and rain collection.

Common types of livestock found on a ranch:

  • Sheep
  • Cattle
  • Goats
  • Pigs
  • Horses

How are they different?

Both farms and ranches require time, hard work and commitment to maintain. Because ranches can technically be counted as farms, it may be difficult to differentiate between the two. Here are the three key differences:

  • Farmers call land “fields” vs. Ranchers calling land “pastures.”
  • Farmers keep equipment in their barn vs. Ranchers keep cattle in their barn.
  • Farmers focus on the water source, crop growth, and price of produce vs. Ranchers focusing on animal health, animal feed prices, and how much their cattle are worth.

Bownds Ranches

Knowing the difference between a farm and a ranch is important before investing in your own piece of land. Brandon Bownds, Broker of Bownds Ranches has over 24 years of experience and a lifetime of knowledge that can help you find the perfect piece of land to escape from the busy city life. The Texas Hill Country, Central, South, and West Texas are full of some of the most captivating farms, ranches, live water, and recreational properties. Contact us to get started on your farm or ranch today!


A day in the life of a rancher is non-stop, there's always plenty to do while tending the land. But there's no lifestyle more fulfilling. If the idea of owning a property that can be passed down from generation to generation appeals to you, Brandon Bownds is only a phone call away. As a 5th generation Texas rancher and a 3rd generation ranch broker, he knows what it takes. Brandon's passion is his pride, and it would be his honor and privilege to help you find, upgrade or sell your family ranch.