In times of calf profitability, you'll need to keep as many productive cows as you have resources to feed. Unfortunately, drought conditions will force many producers to cull deeply this fall and winter. But culling deeply doesn't mean total liquidation. Here are some tips to manage the cows you keep even when forage resources are scarce to non-existent.

The first option is often to buy hay for your cowherd. Depending on how widespread drought conditions are in your area, hay can be difficult to find at an economically practical price. One alternative is to move your cattle off of forage and into feeding facilities to preserve pasture and lower labor costs associated with feeding. Though fuel prices are higher now, it could cost less to move cattle than to buy and haul hay to them. When shipping cows to dry lot facilities keep in mind that it is rarely an all or nothing option. Consider shipping only what you must in order to get by. Moving part of the herd often extends the grazing for the remaining animals.

Being forced to liquidate after spending years building your genetic base can be devastating. Before it reaches that point seek out opportunities to lease your cowherd to other producers in another location. Be sure to outline on paper all inputs provided by each party.