This study aimed to identify and better understand management strategies that help livestock farmers adapt to changes in their production contexts, a fundamental challenge. A total of nine beef-cattle farmers were interviewed three times over 1 year to discuss 13 dimensions of livestock farming (e.g. reproduction, feeding, sales, etc.). Characterisation of management strategies rested on three main factors: (i) ranking of the dimensions according to the degree to which farmers desired to control them, (ii) reasons for the ranking and (iii) management guidelines. Although farmers agreed upon the rank of certain dimensions, such as herd management, they differed on that of others, such as sales and administration/regulations. Four motivation categories were identified: risk, pleasure, efficiency and ability to control the dimension. Three management guidelines were identified, which indicated that farmers managed for future survival of their farms at different scales (animal/herd v. whole-farm), involving different resources (biological v. financial) and based on different animal categories (reproductive cows v. animals sold). These results improve understanding of individual livestock farmers and their current management strategies by integrating the motivations behind their strategies. For this reason, they constitute methodological elements that agricultural advisors can use to provide relevant information to farmers while accommodating differences in farm management.