An infusion of Speckle Park over Charolais at Dorrigo has boosted yield and consistency in Scott and Denna Beaumont’s feedlot finished product.
For the past five years the Beaumonts have used the cross in their breeding herd to advantage, selling finished yearlings from a terminal Charolais bull direct to Woolworths.
A family Charolais stud two decades old produces their own replacement heifers, part of a 300 strong breeding herd, plus half a dozen bulls each year which can trace their lineage back to Palgrove genetics. Speckle Park was originally infused in the form of a two year old bull from Warratah at Guyra.
First cross breeders are retained on pasture and put to one of their own Charolais bulls to produce terminal calves that are grown out on a crop of oats and rye following potatoes in rotation.
Calves are yard-weaned adjacent to the the family feedlot at Tyringham, just west of Dorrigo, on the same corn silage rations and feeder cattle and so settle quickly into the feedlot routine.
Calves are sold direct to Woolworths at 550kg, 14 every fortnight. The system is remarkably self-sufficient with few inputs not actually produced by the family business. The Beaumonts are not bound to Woolworths with a contract which helps simplify their situation when a season goes awry.
Speckle Parks came to the Beaumont’s attentions in 2009 when the breed exhibited at Toowoomba’s Agquip but bulls at that time were hard to source, having only come into Australia through Greg Ebbeck at Six Star, Bowral two years prior.
The Beaumonts bought their first bull from Waratah in 2012, paying $7000 – the dearest bull they had ever bought.
Funny thing they couldn’t seem to get any semen out of him – more for insurance purposes than for sale – yet the keen young Speckle managed to serve 100 females in two separate 10-week joinings with only one failing to go into calf but another cow produced twins.
A later Speckle/ Brahman bull, a ‘Brahckle’, was purchased for $3000 and moved the progeny towards the Beaumont’s desired 15 per cent Brahman content. They later sold him to the meatworks for $2400 with no one quibbling about his cost. But that was where the bargain with Speckles ended.
Lately top Speckle Park bulls are selling for $14,000, just too dear for a commercial cattle producer. “Bids like that just blow us out of the water,” said Mr Beaumont. “We’ve dealt with those high prices by buying lesser quality bulls, but we’re not so happy with the result.
To keep up the vigour in their calves the Beaumonts also use a Droughtmaster bull to deliver true hybrid health and in the high rainfall district as they chase Bos indicus content to about 15 per cent because, they say, the cross produces a noticeable asset.
The benefit of Speckle Park infusion is clear when calves from Charolais females are sold by the Beaumont family, Dorrigo, direct to Woolworths – less bone more fat and better marbling is an obvious gain that helps product meet the grid.
In the family’s feedlot at nearby Tyringham cattle convert feed to muscle. “They get their specifications faster in the same situation as other cross cattle,” said Scott Beaumont. “Straight Charolais in this system produced calves that were too big with not enough fat.”
As there is no bonus for Angus cattle on the domestic market Mr Beaumont has avoided black in favour of white. The Speckle Park breed growing in Australia by more than 25 per cent every year and there are crosses with Brahman to create an F1 breeder that may have a role in Queensland grazing.