Unique beef breed on the rise
SOME of Australia's most ardent and knowledgeable beef producers are turning to a unique breed.
Resilient in dry conditions and offering top grade meat, Speckle Parks are becoming increasingly popular.
He mightn't be a veteran of the industry, but nine year old Eukey boy Braylen Harvey knows a good thing when he sees it. With the support of mum and dad, Jodie and Justin, Braylen, 9, has started off his own little pure bred Speckle Park stud.
"We started off with 10 embryos and we got six out of the 10," Justin said.
"We're just looking to start the herd off this way. So we've just been doing embryos and artificial inseminating but now we've got a couple bulls we can keep. Now we can grow the herd, just all Speckle's."
The breed of cattle is native to the Canadian province of Saskatchewan and is proving to be not just attractive in shades of black and white, but also very valuable.
Speckle Park is a combination of three breeds of British cattle - Angus, White Park and Teeswater Shorthorn.
It was developed in Canada over a period of several decades, but only officially became a breed in 2006.
"Its got really popular. The good ones can get quite good money if you can get some.
"We've paid pretty good money per embryo," Justin said. They might be cute to look at, but those in the beef game say the real money is in what lies beneath.
"They're meant to be (good to eat). "We've done an F1 (first generation) Speckle Park crossed with a Murray Grey. We chopped it and used it and it wasn't too bad. But I imagine the pure Speckle's would be nice.
"But it's too much money to eat and cut up for our own consumption," Jodie said.
Braylen was drawn to the breed after his Pop purchased one. He liked them so much he tossed in $5000 of his own pocket money to help pay for the 10 embryos.
"I liked the colours," he said. With only limited acreage, Justin said they might go up to 20 head.
"We can probably run about 20 here so if we can get some nice pure breds and have a couple bulls it'd be alright.
"If we sell a couple bulls it's just a bit of a bonus I guess."
The breed came to their attention a few years ago. Despite catching their eye, they waited a while to get any of their own. "We liked it, liked the colouring and just the look of it and sort of left it at that at the time. "We should have bought 20 then.
"Then we got a little love of it then and seeing them getting popular we went and looked around and looked into embryos for Braylen to start a stud for him."
Speckle Park International co-president Dale Humphries said limited supply of the cattle genetics in Australia continues to fuel the breed's high market prices.
"We just can't keep up with the demand into all parts of Australia, even into northern markets," Mr Humphries said.
"There's huge demand across the board for Speckle Park from a wide variety of cattle breeders such as Brahman, Angus, Droughtmaster, Simmental - just to name a few."
They might still be something of a rarity, but there's a few other breeders around the area.
"Karina Crisp has some and she's been helping Braylen halter break them.
"But they've got a good temperament."
They've artificially inseminated a few off their other cows so they're hopeful of getting some more F1's.
"We want to train them up a bit. Would be nice to take them to Stanthorpe and Inglewood Show. Just to get your name out a bit as well.
"There's been lots of local breeders who have helped us a long the way if we've had any questions.
"Braylen's loving it and now he's a member of the Speckle Park Society himself," Jodie said.