© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.

Cattle Rancher


Ranching is often a family business. Some dude came over from the Old Country around 150 years ago and bought himself some land and cattle out West. When he kicked the bucket, his son took over the ranch. When that guy kicked the bucket, his son took over the ranch. When that guy kicked the bucket, his daughter stepped in, because by then women's lib was a thing.

In other words, for decades, ranching was something you picked up from other people. If you were born to a ranching family, you likely stayed a rancher, simply because you had years of hands-on experience to draw on.

Today, things are a bit different. Experience still matters, but in a world where technology plays an ever-larger role in agribusiness, you might find yourself in need of a college degree in order to understand every aspect of ranching.

This is where land-grant colleges and universities come in. Every state has one, and it's the school you go to if you want to earn a degree in animal science. In an animal science program, you'll study subjects such as animal behavior, beef cattle, equine science, meat science, sheep and goats, animal biotechnology, dairy science, food science and technology, physiology of reproduction, and swine.

Sounds like a good time, right? Science-y, but not so science-y your fellow college students will want to pelt you with tomatoes and call you a nerd…although you may get a bestiality joke thrown at you every now and then.