Ah, farming. Farming is by far the most consistent strategy for gaining funds in Stardew Valley over a long-term campaign. Because of this, making sure that you choose the best farming perks and specializations will be exceptionally useful for your run. The Rancher or Tiller choice is not exactly set in stone, since it depends on how much room you can dedicate to animals in your farm. However, there is a generally correct answer for if you’re just starting and want to get the quick bucks offered by these fantastic options. Let’s dive right in!
Is Rancher or Tiller Best in Stardew Valley?
By default, Tiller is better than Rancher in Stardew Valley. Tiller offers a slightly better modifier to your funds early on, due to how incredibly profitable crops are in the early game. Then, later on, Tiller has better specialization trees that more heavily impact your economics. If you want the best possible cut, default to Tiller.
However, let’s talk about each of these options in-depth to figure out why we say this!
Rancher offers a quite impressive statistic right off the bat: Improve the amount that animal products sell for by 20%. That’s quite a lot! 20% buffs Cow Milk from 125 to 150, for example.
This boon used to give 10%, but they made it better. This is fantastic, and does compete quite well with Tiller. In general, though, you will be able to more consistently guarantee profits with crops than with animals, as animals have happiness and mood variables that will effect your bottom line.
The real issue with Rancher is their specializations. They’re just… Fine.
- Coopmaster makes your coop animals like you a bit faster, and incubation times will get cut in half. If your entire goal is to make a chicken farm, this will make it significantly more efficient. However, you can befriend your animals quite quickly already by just paying attention to them. Over the course of a long game, you will not need Coopmaster to get your animals to the high friendship values they need to be worthwhile for you.
- Shepherd makes your barn animals like you a bit faster, and makes Sheep produce wool in 1 less day. Once again, paying attention to your animals will get them to like you quick enough that the Shepherd bonus doesn’t matter too much. The sheep shearing is a very nice bonus, admittedly. However, Wool isn’t even necessarily your best export from barn animals!
Both of these will improve the products of that animal type, in terms of quality. However, a well-taken care-of animal has a 56% chance to drop Iridium, and Coopmastor/Shepherd improves that to 73%. That’s a 10% profit margin, which should not be underestimated! But it’s towards a rather specific product since you do have to choose your animal. Unfortunately, this bonus is just not enough to make up for only improving a specific creature type.
Tiller gives a flat 10% bonus to all crops that you grow yourself. This does not apply to foragable items! Those items belong to the Forager professions.
10% is statistically lower than 20%, but you usually will be dedicating significantly more of your farm space to farming crops. Crops are just so efficient on a tile-by-tile basis that you can very easily outperform animals. Realistically, if you give more of your land to the barn, you might find Rancher more effective. But, standard farms are so crop-reliant that the extra 10% boost will be felt much more over the course of Spring, Summer, and Fall.
The two Tiller Specializations are the piece-de-resistance.
- Artisan boosts your sale of artisan goods by 40%. Artisan Goods are goods you can make in Casks, Kegs, Preserve Jars, Cheese Presses, Looms, and any other object labeled as an artisan machine. And good lord, these things are incredible if you boost their profits by 40%! If you dedicate your farm to it, and know what products are high value, then you can make a killing off of this specialization!
- Agriculturist improves crop growth rate by 10%. While less impactful than the 40% of artisan, a general 10% growth rate is pretty impactful overall. Rather than targeting a specific type of product, this will make your whole farm more efficient. This basically improves your crop profit margin by 21%, rather than 10% from Tiller. That’s pretty great!
Between these two, Agriculturist is so simple and effective. However, Artisan will reward those with knowledge of the game with massive boosts of profits with specific artisan machines. We suggest Agriculturist unless you have a very specific plan.
Jason Toro-McCue has committed his schooling to the study of the connection between game design and narrative. When he's not working on this bond through writing articles or guides, he's playing Dungeons & Dragons, or just playing games themselves and looking at the story there.