Through my years of ranch real estate, one thing that has become very apparent is the expectations of what a cattle ranch should look like in the eyes of a buyer. Most buyers picture waves of knee-high grass, lush, irrigated hay meadows, mountains of stored hay, and live water running through the ranch. Although this description does in fact occur in Wyoming, it is not the norm for a quality, successful cattle ranch here. Over the years I could have easily won bet after bet with buyers that the cattle they were currently viewing will feed on some brush-like browse plant. They would look at me with skepticism until we would see a cow and calf feeding on one of these browse plants. I have had clients literally demand that I stop the truck so they could get out and investigate the plant that these cattle were feeding on, shake their heads and then say, “I can’t believe they are eating that”. They immediately go back to the data sheets on the individual browse plants that I had provided and begin to read and discover the benefits of these plants and a whole new world opens up right before their eyes. This brings me to the most misunderstood type of cattle ranch out there, the Browse Ranch.
Browse means brush or woody types of plants. Most people have no idea that cattle will feed on these plants much like a deer, or an elk will and even less of a picture of the value of some of these browse plants add to a ranch. These ranches are found throughout the United States, but I will concentrate on Wyoming for the purpose of this article. These ranches are certainly not a picture of what I described above. They are typically a short hard grass ranch, which may or may not have multiple seasonal types of grass, and are usually in a high desert climate, which pretty much covers the whole state of Wyoming. The benefits of these browse plants are often multiple. They will offer a source of feed at certain times of the year and protection against the elements. As one rancher put it, “It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet!”.