Speckle Parks were the first beef breed developed from Saskatchewan. A Canadian composite of White Park, Shorthorn and Angus (with other breeds including Galloway, Highland and Jersey in the mix). Here, in Australia paddocks, the “appaloosa cattle” are hard to miss with their distinctive spotted sides and rear quarters. Now they’re standing out for all the right reasons at sales too.
This month, yet another cattle record was broken. However this time, it wasn’t steers, and it wasn’t the usual record-breaking breeds. Speckle Park cows with calves got the accolade, with a small line of four cows with their second calf at foot achieving $5,580 each.
They were sold by Dale and Robyn Scott from Gippsland through agent Alex Dixon of Elders Korumburra in Victoria. A total of 45 cows and calves achieved an average of $4,034 per unit. It sure got the industry talking.
“We secured these cattle as weaners out of the drought. With the current season in Victoria and impending La Nina, there is huge confidence in cattle prices for the next 12 months. We were hoping to average around $3,200, so to average over $4,000 is amazing,” agent Alex Dale commented.
The Speckle Park breed encountered some early skepticism in Australia, not least of which due to the unusual markings. But over time, their docile temperaments, easy calving and naturally marbled meat have won over many producers.
The breed had been under development in Saskatchewan, Canada, since the late 1950s and was recognised as a breed in its own right in 2005. And they’re much more than cute; Speckle Parks have attributes which make them a commercially viable breed. For starters, they are the size of an Angus and have a high-yielding carcass.
The animals are said to originate with the Barr Colonists, who brought White Park and Teeswater Shorthorn from England when they settled in the Lloydminster and Greenstreet areas in Canada in 1903.
2020 has been a record-breaking year for the breed which made Australian headlines in November when four of a Speckle Park cow’s embryos sold for more than $5050 each on AuctionsPlus through agent Nathan Purvis from Colin Say and Co. The cow, Battalion Heartbreaker M1, had already notched up some fame in the year with her daughter making $30,000 at the breed's Scone sale, and her son selling privately for a breed record at the time: $45,000.
Such is the growth in popularity of Speckle Park cattle here in Australia that Speckle Park International, the breed society for Speckle Park in Australia and New Zealand, announced the appointment of its first CEO, Hannah Bourke, in November.
Their chairman Wayne Munt said the breed society is undergoing its biggest changes since its inception in 2007.
"The growth of the Speckle Park breed, particularly with the successes it continues to achieve in the commercial beef production sector, has seen a need to match member demands with a more dynamic and professional solution, hence the employment of our first CEO Hannah Bourke which the Board are proud to have head hunted," he said.