Rancher or Tiller? How To Make The Right Choice

Once you reach level five in the Farming skill in Stardew Valley, you’ll be asked to make a choice. Which profession will you choose? Rancher, or Tiller? Read on to learn more about both professions, and figure out what the best path is for you!

A screenshot from Stardew Valley of a rancher standing near their flock of chickens.
Do you prefer taking care of crops or animals?

What are Professions?

When you reach levels five and ten in each of the five main skills in Stardew Valley, you can choose between two professions. Choosing one profession at five, unlocks a certain two professions at level ten, and choosing the other, another branch of two. This means your choice at level five dictates your choice at level ten, impacting your gameplay drastically!

The skills tab in Stardew Valley.

When it comes to farming, you can choose to become a Rancher or a Tiller at level five. This decision impacts how much money you earn from farming, and what sort of farming activities you’ll be focusing on with your character. As a Rancher, you’ll be focusing on animals, and as a Tiller, on crops.

SkillLevel Five Profession #1Level Ten Profession OptionsLevel Five Profession #2Level Ten Profession Options
FarmingRancherCoopmaster / ShepherdTillerArtisan / Agriculturist
MiningMinerBlacksmith / ProspectorGeologistExcavator / Gemologist
ForagingForesterLumberjack / TapperGathererBotanist / Tracker
FishingFisherAngler / PirateTrapperMariner / Luremaster
CombatFighterBrute / DefenderScoutAcrobat / Desperado

How To Level Up In Farming?

There are two main ways to gain experience in the farming skill in Stardew Valley:

  • Harvesting crops
  • Taking care of animals

You gain a small amount of experience each time you harvest a crop. There is a predetermined value assigned to each crop, with more valuable crops granting more experience. Harvesting a Coffee Bean, for example, nets you four experience points – the least of any crop – but harvesting more lucrative crops like Cauliflower and Starfruit grants you 23 and 43 experience points respectively – per harvest.

A Starfruit field. The sprinklers and scarecrows are doing their job!

On the other hand, when it comes to taking care of animals, there is little experience to be had. You’ll gain five experience points for petting, shearing, and milking an animal. Furthermore, you’ll gain five experience for harvesting Eggs and other animal products like Wool (from Rabbits) and Duck Feathers, with the exception of Truffles found by Pigs, which grant foraging experience instead.

Hardwood fences can keep your animals in a smaller area, allowing you to pet them and shear them with ease.

To put things in perspective, for clearing a field of 25 Starfruit, you’ll gain 1075 experience points. For taking care of your Deluxe Coop with 12 Chickens, you’ll gain 120 experience; 60 for petting 12 animals. and 60 for harvesting 12 Eggs.

Now, this equalizes a bit when you consider time and effort. Starfruit requires 13 days to grow. In 13 days, you’ll have gained 1560 farming experience for taking care of your Chickens. However, a larger field of crops would put farming crops on the more lucrative side in terms of experience.

Rancher Breakdown

If you choose the Rancher profession, you’ll be able to sell your Animal Products worth 20% more gold. This includes both raw products like Eggs and Milk and processed Artisan Goods like Mayonnaise and Cheese.

Every animal product and Artisan Good will be more valuable.

Is Rancher Worth It?

If you’re aiming to focus your farm profits on animal products, you might think that taking Rancher is the way to go. In fact, this is wrong. While Rancher does apply a price markup to both raw products and Artisan Goods, realistically you’ll always only want to sell Artisan Goods. They take some time to process, but they’re far more valuable. In short, if you’re focusing on animals, you’re also focusing on Artisan Goods.

So, doesn’t that mean Rancher is good since it applies to Artisan Goods? Yes, but only to a point. This is because the level ten profession you access by choosing Tiller is called Artisan. The Artisan profession increases the value of Artisan Goods by 40%.

On the other hand, the level ten professions available to a Rancher are far less useful. A Coopmaster befriends coop animals quicker lowers the incubation time of new chickens being hatched. A Shepherd befriends barn animals quicker and, if they have them, their Sheep produce Wool faster. While friendship does impact animal product quality, you’ll be able to reach maximum friendship with your animals regardless of whether or not you pick up these professions.

Tiller Breakdown

If you choose Tiller instead, your crops will be worth 10% more. That’s right, 10% and not 20%. This is likely to balance things out, as if the bonus was 20%, nobody would ever pick Rancher. A 10% increase is quite small and changes the price of a single Strawberry from 120 gold to just 132 gold. This 10% increase in price applies to all vegetables and flowers, and all fruit except for fruit that counts as foragable items, like Spice Berries and Salmonberries.

A Tiller is happiest with a Hoe in one hand, and a Watering Can in the other.

Is Tiller Worth It?

So, is Tiller worth it, considering the price markup is so marginal? In truth, yes. Even though the value difference is small, it’ll add up quickly if you’re focusing all your efforts on crops. More importantly, Tillers get to choose between two excellent professions at level ten – Artisan, or Agriculturist.

We’ve already spoken about Artisan, but just to reiterate – it’s good. A great profession even. If you’re focusing on farming in any capacity – be it taking care of animals or crops – you’ll want to pick up Artisan and watch your profits soar. Agriculturist on the other hand just decreases crop growth time. Nifty, but definitely not as important for earning profits as Artisan.


The Rancher profession increases the value of all animal products you collect or process by 20%. A nice markup that applies to both Eggs and their cousin Mayonnaise. This seems like the best choice if you want to focus on animal care in your playthrough.

The Tiller profession increases the value of just raw fruits, flowers, and vegetables; and only by 10%. This seems like it should patently be a worse choice than Rancher, but the right choice nonetheless if you plan on just not having any animals.

When thinking about which farming profession to take at level five, we really need to be thinking about level ten. The level ten options upon picking up Rancher are just patently worse than the level ten professions that Tillers unlock. In fact, a Tiller-to-Artisan professional line is just Rancher but better! Artisans will get a 40% price increase for Artisan Goods, which is 20% higher than what Ranchers get for selling the same items. Moreover, Artisans will get higher value out of all Artisan Goods – including syrups, preserves, and other resources.

In short, our recommendation is to always pick Tiller – whether you want to focus on crops or on animals!

Meet the author

I'm a content writer and an avid video game player whose favourites are either chill RPGs or super competitive shooters with no in-between! If anyone is still reading this please help, Joja has trapped me in a guide-writing factory and I'm so tired of drinking Joja Cola.

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