Jack and Megan Fogg's passion for breeding Simmental and Simbrah cattle was rewarded recently when one of their purebred Simmental heifers was named Champion Grain Fed Heifer at the 2019 Toogoolawah Show.
The Fogg's run close to 150 breeders and replacement heifers on their 2965 acre family property Braeburn at Monsildale, along with Megan's mother and brother, Diane and Andrew Gloag.
Calves are sent from Braeburn to the small home block, Koonaworra, situated at Toogoolawah where they are weaned and educated before being either sold or backgrounded at local agistment paddocks.
"Although we're primarily a commercial beef operation, we also run Koonaworra Simmental & Simbrah Stud which provides the backbone of our herd genetics," Megan said.
Megan's parents started using Simmentals in the 1980s, and Megan raised her first Simbrah heifer in 1997 which led to her passion for the breed.
"I still have this first cow today. She will be 22 years old in August and has raised 17 calves (now officially retired from breeding), so a great number of the herd today stem from her genetics".
The Fogg family commenced operations with a base of Braford and Simmental cross cows, though over the years they've focused on having a predominantly Simbrah female herd with Simmental, Brahman and Simbrah sires used to get the ideal cross.
"The appeal of the Simbrah lies in their longevity, fertility and temperament.
"Simmentals are a very versatile breed that milk really well, have excellent carcass traits and cross fantastically with almost any breed. They are also known for their great temperaments making them a pleasure to be around.
"The Brahman factor gives them some tick resistance and the hardiness to do well in tougher conditions."
They aim to keep to a tight joining period from November to February regardless of seasonal conditions.
"All females are pregnancy tested annually and culled if empty. They're given the best chance of reproducing through herd vaccination programs, year-round mineral supplementation and by managing numbers to maintain dry feed in paddocks."
The Fogg's sell the majority of their steer calves straight after weaning through the annual Shepherdson & Boyd Toogoolawah Weaner Sale. Depending on seasonal conditions, cull heifer calves are either sold at weaning or grown out to domestic feeder weight on agistment country.
"We often select a handful of quality young bull calves each year to grow out for private paddock sales as rising two-year-olds but due to our strict selection criteria and lack of spare time this remains a hobby alongside the commercial operation."
Jack and Megan are continually on the lookout for new genetics and try to attend as many of the Queensland Simmental bull sales as possible in order to give themselves the best chance of purchasing the right bulls for their operation.
"We've been using some Springside Simmentals sires over the last few years and overall we've been very impressed with the calves. The majority have shown good growth rates and had quiet temperaments. We've received excellent feedback on how well they've performed down the track from those who've purchased them.
"Last year we bought our first Blue Dog Simmental bull and we're looking forward to seeing his calves in the coming months."
Megan said between working (Jack is a livestock agent and Megan a veterinary nurse), managing the cattle business, and raising their two boys they don't have much spare time.
"Luckily our passion for the beef industry means we can enjoy our 'work' a little more than most."
This passion extends to the show ring where the Fogg's have exhibited both stud and prime cattle in the past.
"We've always tried to support our local shows with prime cattle entries, but we've just started feedlotting our own animals."
Their first glimpse of success was when one of their Simbrah steers, sold as a weaner in 2017, was brought back to the 2018 Esk Show where he won the Grand Champion Prime Exhibit.
Due to a drier season they've been finishing a few of their cattle through the Toogoolawah Feedlot for the domestic market.
"Last year we kept a couple of our weaners especially to put on feed for the Toogoolawah Show. We were pleased with how well one of our purebred Simmental heifers performed (708kg at 20 months) and delighted when she was selected as the Champion Grain Fed Heifer.
She said Toogoolawah has a strong line up in the prime section so it's a great achievement for their small operation.