KNOWING what your cattle are worth and not being at the mercy of markets or the weather are just two of the advantages Mike and Maureen Borello have identified from following principles outlined by the livestock trading program offered by KLR Marketing.
The couple own Mt Emu Plains north of Hughenden as well as country between Longreach and Muttaburra and at Bollon, and say the program has saved them many a sleepless night in the current dry summer conditions.
"A good few years ago, if I was in the same situation I am now weather-wise, I would have been paralysed," Mike said.
Their 60,000 hectare basalt block 100km north of Hughenden has only had 160mm since October, a far cry from the average of 450mm, while down at Longreach the country has only received 100mm.
The Borellos have implemented a basic mob segregation system which they say has resulted in a significant improvement for their business and their grass management.
Planned joinings give the operation more predictability in stock and cash flow, and cows can be fed according to their lactational status and profitability to the business.
"Having my October/November/December calves in one group means I can wean them all together and that saves time and money," Mike said.
It has also reduced feed bills from $280,000 to $50,000 to $80,000, as only the most productive animals are fed.
Another example of how KLR principles aided the breeding enterprise was when some heifers didn't fit into the herd due to their size and reproductive immaturity.
"They were overpriced so we traded up to PTIC heifers due to calve in our production window," Mike said.
When it comes to trading, the program identifies underpriced and overpriced animals and allows producers to target sales rather than be at the mercy of weather and markets.
Mike said that every time he goes out into a paddock he makes a decision based on pasture, markets and whether or not the animal in question is underpriced or overpriced. "That's how simple it is the animal must be paying its way," he said.
One of the principals of KLR Marketing is fellow Hughenden grazier Jim Lindsay, who described the program as a mathematical formula that allows people to make decisions that aren't totally based on a "gut feel".
"There's nothing wrong with hope but this is a lot less stressful in the end," he said. He was introduced to the idea behind it by renowned US low stress stock handling expert Bud Williams.
"Balance is fundamental," he said. "You always have both underpriced and overpriced animals, so you identify what to sell and keep based on that."
The idea that producers are the market's biggest manipulators, rather than the meatworks, is important to bear in mind, Jim said.
"Producers, by withholding stock, cause the price to go up. So they release them, and the price goes down.
"Greed makes us wait, then we sell in a panic and flood the market.
"This doesn't just happen here, it happens worldwide. If you use our principles, you release cattle on your terms and you're not so much dictated to."
The organisation offers a support program called Mastermind for people who decide they want to implement its ideas, with web and phone back-up, plus field days. "The nature of KLR is against traditional thinking," Jim said. "It's tough when people think one way and you ask them to try another way."
"It's certainly not risk free but it minimises it as much as anything I've seen."
For the Borellos, it took two schools before they decided to try it but then, as Mike put it, "we started to wake up to ourselves".
"We've always got our antenna up; there's always room for improvement."