Speckle Park gain interest

REGINA — Speckle Park breeders probably feel like they are finally getting some respect.

The black and white breed, which was developed in Canada, was granted distinctive breed status in 2006, and its 50-year story is being shared across Canada and over the oceans to England, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

“We had an end goal and we definitely made it,” said Roland Chibri.

He and his family own P.A.R. Ranch at Lashburn, Sask. Last April they set a world record when they sold a half interest in a Speckle Park bull for $22,000. It sold to Colgan’s Cattle Co. of Lashburn.

“It was big for us and big for the breed,” he said.

His family has been breeding the cattle since 1983, and his 12-year-old daughter, Faith, sold her heifer for $5,750 to Dugal Smith of Croton, Ont., during this year’s Canadian Western Agribition.

Exportable embryos were offered at the sale, and one package went to Sid and Anne Hollier of Dorchester in the United Kingdom.

The Holliers have attended Agribition every year since buying two live heifers from Ireland in 2009 and another pair in 2011.

They have 64 Speckle Park on their 300 acre farm.

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The Holliers own England’s first natural born calf, which was born in October 2010.

They attend Agribition to shop for more.

“The only way we can get them is to buy embryos,” said Sid Hollier.

They added the breed to their herd of English Longhorns, which are not related to Texas Longhorns, he said.

“We were looking for another breed because our Longhorns were getting difficult to market.”

They wanted medium-sized cows, which they market into niche beef markets.

The Holliers’ Speckle Parks are now gaining interest, even though they are reluctant to part with any.

“We don’t want to sell any. Everybody loves them,” said Anne.

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“We keep coming back for different genetics.”

They bought a package of three embryos at the Agribition sale but have also bought a female in Canada, which will be flushed and shipped to their farm. Buying embryos at auction has become too expensive.

They cannot import semen because of restrictions over infectious bovine rhinotracheitis.

The breed was first introduced to Ireland in 2007 with the importation of 107 embryos by the Ryall family. The following year another 146 were imported and the Irish Speckle Park Association was formed. The first Speckle Park was born in Cork in February 2008.

Beef producers in the United Kingdom have taken to the breed partly because they are intrigued with the idea of building a composite animal based on three traditional British breeds: the Shorthorn, White Park and Angus.

Others are interested in using them for a further cross.

Holstein calves do not have much value in the beef market, but Hollier said they become more saleable when crossed with Speckle Park.

For more information, visit Hollier’s website at www.longashspeclepark.com.

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