A focus on improving the marbling and meat quality of their pure Droughtmaster herd is what led the Birchmore family, Winton, to introducing Speckle Park's into their breeding program. A decision which is now paying dividends.
David and Sarah Birchmore (and their young daughters) run the operation across two properties with David's parents, Wayne and Sandra Birchmore.
Their Bernborough and Kiriwina aggregation, is situated 100km north of Winton, and encompasses 26,300 hectares of open black soil downs country, with native Flinders and Mitchell grasses and buffel grass. The family purchased Bernborough in 1985 and Kiriwina in 2002.
David said the aggregation is entirely focussed on beef cattle production, with 1500 breeders (pure Droughtmasters and F1/F2 Droughtmaster/Speckle Park) being run, while the entire herd numbers at close to 3000 head.
"We purchased our first 10 Speckle Park Bulls in 2016 and then introduced 88 F1 Speckle Park x Angus cows (PTIC to Speckle Park bulls) in early 2017," he said.
"We were impressed by the meat quality and marbling that the breed had been achieving and were looking to improve these qualities in our Droughtmasters."
David said the cross progeny consistently weigh heavier than the pure Droughtmasters, while retaining the durability of the Droughtmaster for their tough western Queensland conditions.
The family have the bulls in the paddock all year to allow for marketing opportunities depending on weather conditions.
"We aim to sell a light feeder steer at around the 400kg mark to the domestic market, though given the recent seasons we've been selling weaner steers straight off the cow at close to 260kg."
In October last year the Birchmore's sold four decks of F1 Droughtmaster/Speckle Park steers and four decks of pure Droughtmaster steers to the same property on average feed.
"The average daily weight gains for the Droughtmaster steers was 0.47/kg per day while the F1 cross steers gained 0.54kg/d."
The additional weight gain of 0.07kg/d for the F1 cross over the straight Droughtmaster steers equated to 0.49kg/week or 25.48kg/year, equalling $101.92 in additional income at $4/kg.
"When every kilogram counts for profitability it's great to see that the cross steers can hold their own against traditional breeds."
David said when selecting Speckle Park bulls, structure is the most important trait for them as they need to be able to easily cover the distance between watering points and feed on their properties.
"Temperament is also important as good docile cattle put on more kilograms, and as we're a family operation we want cattle that are easy to work through the yards by all three generations.
"We're always interested in any additional information that bull breeders are able to provide on bulls (semen results, EMA scanning etc), as these work together to help us choose the right bull for our operation."
Since they started with the breed, the Birchmore's have purchased bulls from Blue Spark, AAA and Minnamurra Speckle Park studs.
"We're happy with the results we're seeing in their progeny.
"We're looking to introduce new Speckle Park bloodlines into our herd this year."
In addition to producing the best quality article possible in their operation, David and Sarah also run agistment.net.au a website designed to help graziers find and fill agistment online.
"We started the business in 2012 after experiencing firsthand the difficulty of finding agistment. We saw the opportunity to create a central meeting place for graziers and landowners to find each other."
David said down the road they're looking into feedlot trial opportunities to benchmark the F1 cross.