November 21, 2017


Ranchlands' founder Duke Phillips is a third generation cattle rancher who believes in economic diversification, high conservation ethics, and public education as critical to the future of ranching.

Ranchlands is a diversified ranch management company that owns and operates cattle and bison ranches in three states on lands that we lease or manage for third parties. Our success in managing ranches for investors or conservation ranch owners is based on our direct involvement in the industry where we live or die by the decisions that we make in running the day-to-day business.

Our management model provides a turnkey solution for managing a ranch. We move livestock, equipment, machinery, staff, business processes, and working managers to a ranch. Our goal is to create a viable business that achieves the ranch owner’s objectives while improving the ecosystem of the ranch. We can also provide lifestyle services that make sure the owners’ personal needs are met when they are staying on the ranch, which ensure that the owners may enjoy the ranch personally with family and friends.

Case in point:  On one ranch where that we manage, the owner lives in an entirely different state.  He wants to enjoy the ranch with his family when he comes to visit, two or three times a year for a couple weeks at a time, and wants us to handle all day to day activities, interface with all partners and landlords, and develop and implement plans for developing a state of the art ranch.  We take care of his personal living facilities: house-keeping, renovations, rodents, insuring that his horses are trained and ridden. We stock his house with groceries before his arrival, help with their daily riding needs, and provide a calendar that outlines all the ranch work so that they can participate in anything that we are doing.

Because we own the cattle, we take on all the financial risk. We pay all the taxes, insurance, and repair and maintenance costs that the ranch owner would otherwise pay.  We make a annual plan that outlines all ranch activities, conservation goals, business objectives, and a capital development plan with complete budget so that he can understand everything that is going on.  At the end of each year, we provide a report that details the activities during the year.

In this example, the ranch owner had experienced a large turnover of staff, incurred expenses that exceeded their expectations, had taken several significant financial setbacks in the livestock business, and, as a consequence, were not able to enjoy the ranch in the ways that they anticipated when they had originally purchased.  With the ranch under our management,  this owner has been able to expand the number of days they live on the ranch, has not had a single cost related to the ranch other than outside personal items, and has an asset that is appreciating in value as the ecosystem, ranch infrastructure, and facilities are taken to a higher level.

As we look ahead to the next fifty years, there are several important facets that are, in our view, important to successful ranching.

Land Stewardship. We view ranching as the most compelling alternative to large-scale conservation, because we live and depend on the natural resources of the land, and our business can pay for the conservation values that we achieve.

Economics.  We run a profitable ranching business through diversification, a focus on organization and communication, and a fluid business plan that maintains flexibility in order to weather climate and market fluctuations.

People.  We train young people who are interested in a career in ranching and offer them opportunities in the industry managing other ranches, or with us.  

But perhaps as important to us as any of these aspects is how much we enjoy living, working, and raising our families here and instilling in them and the young people who we work with the traditions and legacy of ranching–one of the cornerstones of American culture.

Photography by Forest Woodward