On the 10th anniversary of Speckle Park cattle being introduced into Australia, questions are now being asked is the breed the new Angus?
The controversial question comes as new data from online cattle sales website, AuctionsPlus, shows Speckle Park steers are making similar price premiums to Angus. Recently, unjoined Speckle Park heifers sold between 440 cents-a-kilogram live weight and up to a high 615c/kg during the past year.
AuctionsPlus chief executive Anna Speer said joined Speckle Park female prices far exceed the average for all other breeds sold on the cattle auction site.
“Their carcase attributes are well promoted by the breed and after being introduced to Australia in 2007 they are just starting to hit their strides,” Ms Speer said.
One Queensland cattle producer already joining the enthusiastically named “Speckle Park revolution” is Scott Bartley who owns a mixed farming business with his wife Janelle and son David near Warwick.
On their property called Corndale, the family run a breeding cattle herd with an aim of producing 180 to 210 kilogram dressed carcase weight beef steers and heifers for the local butcher trade market.
“We do run Angus cattle here at the same time as Speckle Park because I believe it’s important to go into things slowly, rather than just head first,” Mr Bartley said.
“But, I do have to note my Angus cattle numbers are declining and I’m replacing them with Speckle Park.”
Mr Bartley noted Speckle Park cattle have a clear potential to move into beef markets traditionally dominated by Angus due to his belief in the breed’s “high eating quality”.
“We’ve run Angus cattle here for a long time, but now my Speckle Park and Speckle Park-cross cattle numbers are growing due to the breed returning faster weight gains for us and maintaining their condition when seasons get a bit tough,” he said.
“All cattle will go backwards in times of drought, but when seasons are ok the Speckle Park cattle give us great results for our target market.”
And now the breed is heading further north with AuctionsPlus reporting the sale of Speckle Park cattle as far as Winton in north west Queensland.
“Even in our warmer climate I’ve heard cattle breeders boast Speckle Park are performing well and handling the hotter conditions,” Mr Bartley said.
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.”
Mr Bartley added prices will remain high while New Zealand cattle producers continue coming to Australia and buying sizable numbers of local first-cross Speckle Park heifers.
“There’s a paddock of Angus heifers every few miles along the road, but there’s certainly not a paddock of Speckle Park cattle every so many mile,” he said.
Angus Australia said their breeders aren’t concerned with competition from other cattle breeds, but rather focused on the continuous improvement of Angus’s market value and profitability.
“We recognise there is a place for more than one breed in the beef industry and the real competition is not from other breeds of cattle, but threats from other protein sources and alternative dietary preferences,” Angus Australia’s CEO Peter Parnell said.
“The Angus breed is not complacent and cannot assume that its previous success as a preferred source of high quality beef will necessarily continue into the future.”