Stardew Valley Rancher Vs Tiller: Which Profession Is Better?

Once you’ve played enough hours in Stardew Valley it can be easy to fall into old habits and just rush some decisions without giving it a second thought because you’ve tested it out so many times – but that doesn’t help the newbie who has a question about how to get the most out of their Stardew Valley experience. One such common question involves what is, for most players, either the first or second profession that you need to make a choice on: do you go Tiller or Rancher at Level 5 of Stardew Valley?

Tiller is not only a better profession than Rancher, but it’s considered by many Stardew Valley players to be the best Profession in the game. Unless you’re playing a rancher/animal only game, the 10% boost to all crop prices given by Tiller will be more profitable and valuable over the long haul than the boost to animal products given by Rancher.

There are pros to each Profession, as there’s little question that Rancher is actually a good profession, the problem is that it’s facing off against arguably the best level up in the entire game.

Let’s dive deeper into the Stardew Valley Rancher Vs Tiller argument so you can see the pros and cons of each and decide which is better for your play style. Let’s dive in!

stardew valley rancher vs tiller pic
One of the most important choices you can make for your character in the game. Tiller is the smart pick for 99% of games if you care about the money.

Comparing The Level 5 Tiller Profession Vs Rancher Profession

At first glance both Level 5 farming professions from Stardew Valley seem to give good benefits, and I’d say that’s an accurate statement. 10% boost to crop prices is huge, especially since mass farming is what provides you the majority of your income throughout the game. Then again, animal products tend to be worth more, so getting a 20% boost on them is pretty great.

It’s also worth noting that both of these boosts apply to the appropriate Artisan goods. The 10% Tiller boost to crops has that base value increase applied to jam, wine, and other crop-based goods. The 20% Rancher boost also applies to cheese, mayo, and animal product based artisan goods. This can make a difference when trying to figure out which one is going to make you the most money.

However, it doesn’t take much math to realize which of these comes out ahead. Here’s a table comparing Tiller vs Rancher.

Level 5 ProfessionBenefitWhy Pick This?Level 10 Lead-In
TillerCrops worth 10% more.Stardew Valley is a farming game first and foremost. In sheer numbers that 10% becomes huge money – and that’s before the fact that 10% bump on these also is figured in when making artisan goods.Artisan which makes all artisan goods worth 40% more.
RancherAnimal products worth 20% more.If you don’t like the farming mechanics and plan on having a lot of barns with a lot of animals, this makes more sense as long as you mostly ignore farming.Befriend animals of your choice quicker.
Remember it’s not just the Level 5 level up you need to think about, but you need to think about how this choice affects what you can take at Level 10, as well.

Not only does Tiller appear to win handily at Level 5, in part because of the sheer amount of crops you will produce, but they also win hands down when it comes to the Level 10 professions and what each part of the profession tree brings to the table.

For more information you can check out our Stardew Valley Coopmaster vs Shepherd comparison (for the Rancher Skill Tree) and the Stardew Valley Artisan Vs Agriculturist comparison (for the Tiller Skill Tree).

So how do the numbers work out? Let’s use basic products like milk and the lowly parsnip as examples:

  • Milk is +25g with Rancher per unit while Parsnip is +3g

Plus you get milk daily so that’s +100g in extra income in four days versus +3 for a parsnip, so we have a winner, right?

Well, no. For one, you don’t plant one parsnip.

Then there’s the fact a cow costs 1500g and a basic barn costs 6000g and a ton of resources. It takes a lot of milk and cheese to make those numbers up.

That’s 7500g to get a cow going. 1000g gives you 40 parsnip seeds which is +120g just from the Tiller boost, not to mention normal crop profits and any silver or gold crop boosts. And all that farming XP.

And keep in mind that’s with parsnips – hands down the worst crop to use to show the use of the Tiller profession, the one you would choose to try to sabotage this comparison. A starfruit is +75g base with the Tiller profession not to mention the value (or increased value) of starfruit wine. The 10% to silver or gold level crops also comes into play a lot, further boosting the extra income from going the Tiller route.

It’s also just a number game. There are only so many cows or chickens or goats you can have and so much they can produce. You can mass produce giant harvests of crops, especially once you have all your sprinkler systems set up, which makes that cumulative +10% really start adding up with every single additional plant harvested.

Especially for crops like blueberries, strawberries, potatoes, or ancient fruit that give multiple crops per harvest or offer multiple harvests. That bonus income keeps adding up.

Why the Level 10 Professions Matter

The profession you take at Level 5 also affects what options you get at Level 10 when you max out a skill. The Level 10 professions that come off Rancher are, in a word, junk. They are mostly useless with minimal benefits that you have to custom build around to get major benefits…and custom building in those directions will still make you far less money than having pigs…whose truffle oil is worth a small fortune with the Artisan Perk, which only comes from the Tiller tree.

On the other hand the Level 10 professions off of Tiller are both good, though Artisan is almost certainly the best standalone profession in Stardew Valley, and the boost to Artisan goods you get from that affect ALL artisan goods whether from plants or animals.

Which means both at Level 5 and Level 10 when you do the math, Tiller into Artisan is the clear winner. It will provide far more cumulative profit in both the mid and late game that the Rancher profession just can’t keep up with.

Stardew Valley Tiller Beats Stardew Valley Rancher

There’s little question that for 99%+ of games, the Tiller profession is the better choice and arguably one of the two best professions in all of Stardew Valley, with the best one (Artisan) only becoming available to players if you go the Tiller route at Level 5, anyway.

This isn’t one of those profession choices where one option is good and one bad, but in Stardew Valley the Tiller to Artisan profession route is just a juggernaut and one that was going to crush any other profession it was compared to. The Tiller profession is the way to go for most Stardew players who, like me, have made plenty of mega farms on all those Stardew Valley save files.

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