Through years of sheer hard work and savvy marketing three generations of the Comiskey family, Rockhampton, have achieved their goal of producing a beef product which is available in Blackwater and Rockhampton butcher shops and restaurants for the regions community to enjoy.
During this journey, the trio of Joe Comiskey, his daughter Sharon, and her daughter Hollie have operated Comiskey Barley Beef using a predominantly Brangus breeding herd which are joined chiefly with Brangus bulls, several of which have recently been sourced from the Kapernick family, Shadow Valley Brangus Stud, Gin Gin.
The base of operation for their program is Aintree, situated 50km south of Rockhampton, which was purchased in 2006, with the family adding nearby Seven Hills to their holdings in 2016.
Sharon said the 1210ha Aintree property includes 85ha of land under center pivot irrigation on which they grow callide grass, Lucerne, oats and barley, and forage sorghum in the summer months, which is used for fattening their cattle. The 310ha of country on Seven Hills is used specifically for breeding purposes.
"Our cattle are fed the same ration 365 days of the year so the meat produced is consistent. They can be fed a variety of grasses and forage. Forage is cut for silage and used to feed all of our cattle," she said.
"In 2014 we purchased a bonino grazer, which allows us to mow, load, carry to the cattle and chop up grass or forage and convoy the product into the feed troughs.
"Our goal is to not have to sell breeders or weaners due to a lack of feed or water."
She said they've had no rain since February this year so all the breeders are being fed a silage ration with hay and cotton seed.
"We're lucky we have the capacity to feed our cattle in this way."
In addition to their homebred progeny, the family also purchase weaners at 300kgs.
"When they reach 380kg they go to the barley grass feedlot and are fattened to 420kg to 450kg liveweight. They're then slaughtered at the Biggenden meatworks where the beef is MSA graded.
"Some of the meat is sent to Richos Quality Meats in Rockhampton, Blackwater Quality Meats, and is available on the menus of various restaurants across the region."
She said they currently have 300 females in the breeding herd which are now mainly Brangus.
"We have a few Droughtmaster cows left as we started out with that breed. We bought some stud Brangus in the ensuing years and we've gradually shifted over to developing our own herd of Brangus cows and heifers."
Sharon said the Brangus breed is ideal for the coastal climate and country.
"They're very hardy, and produce good-sized calves."
To source high quality genetics for their program the Comiskey family have been attending the Rockhampton Brangus Sale for many years.
"Even if we don't buy a bull in a given year, it's still great to see what bulls are available and catch up with people we the vendors and buyers we know there."
They purchased three bulls from Shadow Valley at the 2018 sale which Sharon said have all been performing very well.
"The Kapernicks produce bulls with sizeable frames, high fertility and quiet temperaments. We've had no dramas with them, they're still in with the females at the moment.
"The cows we joined to these bulls have already dropped calves and they look great. The progeny are already showing good length and they aren't too low to the ground."
Sharon said they're looking forward to inspecting the Shadow Valley draft of six bulls and three heifers at the 2019 Rocky sale.
"Shadow Valley bloodlines are helping to maintain our high standard of success."