This is a system of livestock rearing which involves keeping of farm animals on a large scale and on a large expanse of enclosed land, which may be under natural vegetation or planted pasture. The animals are allowed to move about and graze freely on the ranch. The stockman may have to supply the animals with supplement feeds in the form of concentrates, vitamins and minerals. Enough water is also supplied by the farmer.
A ranch should be fenced and provided with stockades, crushes, animal dips and sheds or corrals, to harbour the animals during bad weather. Sheds are also needed to keep and treat sick animals.
In ranching, it is possible to adapt rotational grazing, whereby the ranch is divided into sections and each section is used for a certain period of time, before the animals are moved to other sections one after the other.
Rotational grazing allows the pasture to grow and prevents overgrazing. An example of a ranch in Nigeria is the Obudu Ranch in Cross River State.
Advantages of ranching
- Selective breeding can be practised.
- The rancher can easily observe and identify animals that are sick.
- There is availability of pasture all the year round.
- Regular supply of water is assured.
- There is low incidence of diseases and pests.
- High quality animals are produced.
- Low death rate of animals is recorded.
Disadvantages of ranching
- Overstocking: The available land and pasture may not be enough for the available stock.
- It is very difficult to give individual attention to each animal on ranch.
- It is very expensive to manage a ranch.
- Outbreak of disease may wipe out the whole stock.