Speckle Park have desirable traits which are advantageous to the cow calf operator, the feed lot operator, the butcher and the consumer.
- Consistent High Quality Carcass
- Distinctive colour pattern
- Calving ease
- Vigorous calves
- Generally calm disposition
- Hardy and healthy
- Hybrid vigour
- Feed efficiency
Commercial cattlemen in Canada are taking a keen interest in Speckle Park. In a recent article in Alberta Beef (July 2010) Dave Fiddler who is a cattle producer from south west of Swift Current and the CEO of Canadian Legacy Partners explains why CLP producers have an interest in SP.
“On 20 carcasses averaging 700 lbs. we saw only about a 40 lbs. difference between the lightest and the heaviest carcass on the rail. These carcasses produce the slightly smaller sized cuts for both restaurant and retailers.”
In another interview published in Alberta Beef (August 2010), Judy Guichon of the Nicola Valley Guichon Ranch explains her interest in Speckle Park. “The ranch is trying some Speckle Park bulls … to try to meet the consumer demand for grass fed beef." Judy Guichon “believes that the Speckle Park offspring will have a bit smaller carcasses and easier marbling.”
In England a very successful breeder of another carcass breed expresses the same reasons for his special interest and move into Speckle Park. "In 35 years experience in the meat business, I have never butchered animals with such consistency and quality grades," says Martin Rijavec, former owner/operator of Vermilion Parkers Ltd., Vermilion, AB.
The Speckle Park reputation for carcass consistency in terms of moderate size, well marbled with only the ideal fat cover was emphatically demonstrated in the 2010 Quality Beef Competition at the Calgary Stampede. Speckle Park had six of the top ten placings (first to fourth, seventh and tenth). The numbers demonstrate the consistency. [ Read more about the Calgary Stampede Quality Beef results ]
|Marbling||Ribeye Area||Carcass Weight||Fat Cover|
|Grand Champion||AAA30||88 sq cm||719 lbs||7 mm|
|Reserve Champion||AAA50||93 sq cm||673 lbs||8 mm|
|Average on Top 4||AAA30||89.5 sq cm||711 lbs||8 mm|
|Average on six Top 10 SP Steers||AAA40||89 sq cm||734 lbs||10 mm|
|Average on eleven SP Steers||9 of 11 graded AAA||82.9sq cm||725 lbs||11.3 mm|
Feeders, meat graders and butchers are very impressed with the consistently high quality carcasses of the Speckle Park. Every breed can produce high quality carcasses but what is impressive is when the carcasses of a particular breed are consistently of the highest quality. Such is the case with Speckle Park. Speckle Park have a rather distinctive ability to marble with a ideal fat covering.
The Speckle Park consistency and quality was all demonstrated by a recent shipment of ten Speckle Park straight from the pen out of feed lot (results on right).
Speckle Park have moderately sized carcasses. According to Fred Taylor, beef grades standards officer with the Canadian Beef Grading Agency (CBGA), the ideal size carcass is between 650 and 750 lbs. The reason is the rib-eye area. The optimum rib-eye for the retail and restaurant trade is between 77 and 86 sq. cm. Carcasses in excess of 750 lbs. give rib-eyes too large to slice into 1" thick steaks and still maintain an 8 oz. portion that's juicy and flavorful. Also the price tag on the large steaks is too high so consumers just won't buy them. Consumers are looking for steaks of the right size and the best taste.
For the consumer the AAA well marbled beef ensures tender beef with excellent flavour. Beef from Speckle Park is typically finer grained with smaller but more numerous deposits of intramuscular fat (marbling). The 2003 – Steak Challenge at the Camrose Bull Congress was won by Speckle Park. Truly a great tasting beef! Speckle Park are also demonstrating that they retain these carcass advantages when crossed on other breeds, either beef or dairy. The numbers above include Speckle influence steers and heifers from commercial herds.
Speckle Park steers on test may be viewed at the Steer-A-Year project at Olds College, Olds, AB. Every year since 2000 Speckle Park have participated in this project. The official test begins at the beginning of November of each year and ends when the last of the steers go to market at the end of April. The Speckle Park steers entered in this project have demonstrated their consistent high quality carcasses over many years.
The distinctive colour pattern of Speckle Park has become a brand to indicate the potential of carcass quality. The colour pattern which was once used to justify discounting Speckle Park at the sale market has become a distinctive mark worthy of an equal or even premium on the price. This has been demonstrated at the Annual Speckle Park Feeder Sale in Ponoka, Alberta, in October. Solid blacks sell in the same pen at the same price as the other colour patterns. The Association makes available to its members free of charge printed information for the purpose of educating buyers in areas unfamiliar with the benefits of Speckle Park.
Speckle Park rarely experience difficulty calving. The calves average 75 to 80 pounds at birth and are extremely vigorous. Most newborns are up and sucking within minutes. One herd's average on one claving season was eleven minutes from hitting the ground to standing and sucking. Sucking does not require standing! Most heifers calve without assistance.
Many commercial cattlemen are finding Speckle Park bulls a wise choice for breeding heifers. The smaller birth weights increase the calving ease, but also increase the quality of the resulting carcass.
Speckle Park cattle offer calving ease and calf vigor, then mature into productive females.
[l] Amulet 9P as a calf [r] As a mature cow
Speckle Park cows are very protective of their calves against four legged predators but easy on their human managers. The cows have well attached and tight udders which supply ample very thick milk. Coloured teats of course are an advantage in sun and snow country.
Generally calm disposition
Speckle Park are cattle but as cattle go are very manageable quiet animals. Their calm disposition makes them a pleasure to work with. They view strangers in the pasture with interest but do not flee. Aggressive bulls are extremely rare. Speckle Park breeders specifically and consistently select against poor temperaments. Accidents while working with cattle are almost unheard of among Speckle Park breeders.
Speckle Park animals are becoming a popular choice of 4-H beef members. For one thing they look different but for another their smaller size and quiet disposition make them manageable by even the youngest 4-H member.
Speckle Park are to be polled, thus saving their owners the extra time and expense of dehorning. Some do have scurs.
Speckle Park grow heavy coats in winter and slick off for the summer. They adapt well to the cold Canadian winters as well as the heat of the summer. The black points on the animals - eyes, ears, nose, and feet and the black mottled skin under the hair coat lend themselves to few health problems. Pink eye is very rarely a problem and foot rot is seldom a concern. Due to the black teats cows rarely suffer from effects of sun and snow.
Speckle Park cross well on almost every breed and show every indication of contributing hybrid vigor. Commericial cattlemen are taking note of how well Speckle Park cross on their commercial cows. Because of the British genetics behind Speckle Park, it stands to reason that there would be significant heterozygosity with cows with more of a background derived from the continental breeds. Speckle Park have demonstrated that they retain their carcass advantages when crossed on other breeds, either beef or dairy.
Speckle Park are giving every indication that they are efficient converters of feed. Speckle Park can be finished naturally off of grass with minimal, if any, grain inputs.
Speckle Park make efficient use of feed resources because they develop heavy winter coats for protection in extreme weather and then slick off quickly in spring. They are at the feed bunk while others look for shelter.
Speckle Park are moderately sized animals and this itself contributes to their efficiently when on winter feed. On the average mature cows weigh about 1200 pounds and mature bulls at 2000 pounds. Calves typically wean at about 550 pounds.