Cattlemen are faced with a host of decisions they have to make but the period in advance of the upcoming fall and winter tends to be the most stressful. Most producers focus on how they will manage and care for their herd over the next few months – primarily winter. In some areas that's not a great problem. If you are somewhere that has enjoyed plentiful rainfall, the likelihood is good that you have a fair amount of standing forage and cows are in pretty good condition. If you are farther north and winters are commonly more severe or if you've not had adequate moisture conditions, you may have more of a problem. Regardless of the situation, let's take a look at structuring the decision making process a bit with two primary issues in mind – improved performance and improved profits, both of which everyone can stand more of and both of which have become increasingly elusive in the current economy. The main goal here is to develop and utilize a system by which the producer can prioritize the tasks at hand by implementing decisions that will improve cattle condition, performance and profitability.

Where Are You Right Now?

The first thing you need to determine is what the status is TODAY of your operation and the components that make up your operation. This may include forage inventory, brood cow body condition, grain or feed prices and available options and so on. The following is a checklist of sorts you might use to help determine some critical factors:

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