REGINA — Darla Sauder may have received her best birthday gift ever this year at the Canadian Western Agribition Speckle Park sale on Nov. 25.
She and her husband, Scott, of Fairlight, Sask., set a record for the breed when they sold a bred female for $20,000 to Drew Lehr of Watrous, Sask., who is a relatively new breeder.
The Sauders, who own Second Chance Speckle Park, were late comers to the breed. They once had Simmentals and 4-H calves for their children, but between 1990 and2007 they worked off the farm and there was no time for cattle.
They got their first Speckle Park in 2007 after Scott was stopped at the side of a road near Lumsden, Sask., and saw them in a field. He was impressed with their conformation and quiet temperaments. When he asked Darla whether they should buy some, she didn’t know what he was talking about.
They bought their first calf from River Hill Speckle Park at Agribition.
“We felt the cows gave us a second chance at farming,” she said.
They added to the herd in 2009 when they came across three bred Speckle Park cows at an auction in Virden, Man. The market collapse after BSE had forced the owner to sell.
“The people that owned them were glad they weren’t going to go for meat and they were going to go to another breeder, so they gave us the papers for them,” she said.
Those were the foundation of their herd and are still producing. In fact, the mother of their high seller came from one of those auction market cows.
The breed has official recognition in Canada, but it is still hard to find enough to build up herds because producers are reluctant to part with them.
“Everyone who has been involved with it for a lot of years has been very helpful as far as information and support goes,” she said during a break at Agribition, which ran from Nov. 23-29.
The Sauders will have about 20 breeding females this spring. They have also become involved in the breed, and this year Scott became president of the association.
Darla’s favourite part of the business is talking about the breed and promoting it.
Each year, the black and white cattle developed in Saskatchewan make more progress toward acceptance. Agribition had a record sized show with more than 70 entries and a record price, said Rod Remin, business manager for the breed.
Bred to produce good beef, the Calgary Stampede carcass competition has given the breed some respectability because it consistently places high or wins with AAA carcasses.
The cattle are also earning more as commercial cattle with the most recent results from Ontario showing 13 steer calves weighing 567 pounds sold for $304.50 per hundredweight.
“The last few weeks we have been topping the sales,” Remin said.
In addition, Remin has a seat on the board of directors with the Canadian Beef Breeds Council. He finds that satisfying because at one time other cattle producers laughed at the concept of the Speckle Park.
“Now a Speckle Park representative sits at the table with all the other big breeds,” he said.