Bumpers for Decision Making

by Dallas Mount

Crossroads Land and Livestock

“When I bowl, I need the bumpers to keep the ball heading towards the pins, as my wife Maggie and I make decisions on the ranch we need bumpers to keep us heading toward our goal.” This statement was made by Austin Troyer at the recent Executive Link meeting in Billings, MT. Austin, Maggie and their son Harrison run Crossroads Land and Livestock near New Philadelphia, Ohio. They are a bootstrap operation running sheep on leased land moving towards ownership.

Austin with his son Harrison.

Austin shared with us their two ‘bumpers’ that keep them focused.

  1. One group of animals per farm … No exceptions!
  2. Every animal on the farm must be appreciating in value … No exceptions!

Austin shared how before they established these bumpers, they would come up with excuses to justify decisions that complicated their operation. They lease several properties and found themselves creating multiple herds on many of these properties. There were dry cows headed for market in the next few months, bulls here, and heifers over there. After a while each property had two or three herds and what was a simple process of moving pastures on each farm became a full day’s job. One herd per farm also facilitates good grazing management. Fewer herds raises the number of paddocks per herd with existing infrastructure. More paddocks per herd increases recovery period, and increases stock density; the greatest tool to building soil health. After they developed and committed to this bumper the operation became easier to manage.

Austin presenting his operation at a recent Executive Link meeting.

Every animal appreciating, applies to every animal. Austin described how this has changed their approach to guardian dogs and bulls or rams for their operation. They began a guardian dog enterprise selling developed dogs to other sheep producers. More about appreciation and depreciation of breeding animals can be found here.

Bumpers like these provide focus and eliminate excuse making. What are your bumpers for guiding decision making on your operation? I’d love to see them in the comments below.


6 Responses to “Bumpers for Decision Making”

November 10, 2021 at 6:27 am, Aaron said:

Love this, thanks Austin for sharing!


November 10, 2021 at 6:35 am, Hondo Davis said:

I’d be interested to hear ideas on how to prevent bull depreciation.


November 10, 2021 at 10:06 am, Shanon Sims said:

Find somebody to lease bulls from!


November 10, 2021 at 6:37 am, Kelley O’Neill said:

It’s easy to say: “soil first, then grass, then livestock.” It’s another thing altogether to actually abide by this ranking of priorities. Kind of like the lyric in Pete Seger’s song, “words, words, words, if we only understood them, if our lives pronounced them, how would this world be changed”.


November 10, 2021 at 7:34 am, Shanon Sims said:

I love this! I’ve never thought in terms of bumpers, but I think we will be developing some very soon! I foresee our bumpers including:
1) All enterprises must contribute to ecosystem health.
2) Enterprises must allow us time for family, community, and self development.
3) Every enterprise must be able to independently generate wealth.


November 10, 2021 at 7:58 am, Monte+lerwick said:

That’s a great concept – our EL board was just talking about this in position agreements. The above two bumpers would be good in a position agreement. Outer boundaries may be as important as targets. If we are balancing multiple factors, we need to know where the flex is in order to find a better overall solution.
With the help of the EL board, our lender, employees, and owners, we have developed outer boundaries for our business in four areas: economic, financial, ecologic, and personal. They had to be meaningful, measure-able and achievable. These bench marks give meaning to and aline with our mission and vision while giving flex to our decision making process. They have already been the frame work for many high level decisions.


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