REGINA — When Jason and Sara Goodfellow heard their Speckle Park bull was the first champion of the world, they knew the years of hard work and promotion had paid off.
“Having Speckle Park compete against these other breeds tells everybody we are equal,” he said.
Notta 1B Hawkeye 444E, owned by Notta Ranch Speckle Park of Neilburg, Sask., was grand champion at Edmonton’s Farmfair International and at Canadian Western Agribition. About 100 Speckle Park were shown at Agribition, which ran from Nov. 25-30 in Regina.
Working with P.J. Budler of Fort Worth, Texas, who created the champion of the world competition, criteria was developed for the breed, which was only recognized in 2006. The world program recognizes 16 breeds in 77 countries and panels of judges assess the winners of national shows before overall champions are declared.
A Miss World Speckle Park was also named in Riverhill 99Y Pho-Cover 18C owned by River Hill Speckle Park of Neilburg, owned by Barry and Elaine Ducherer and Cory and Katlin Ducherer. Notta Ranch genetics are in this female’s pedigree.
This kind of recognition raises international interest and Speckle Park genetics are showing up across Canada, United States, Australia and Great Britain.
For Goodfellow this recognition has been a long time coming but in reality the breed has grown at a remarkable pace. The breed association has about 200 members.
International interest is supported because of improved genetic technology since live animals cannot be shipped. At times the demand for embryos outstripped the demand.
“It is our job to maybe invest in ourselves a little bit, flushing a few more cows,” Goodfellow said.
“With the breed growing at 30 and 40 percent a year, it is all purebred producers can do to keep up with demand of people wanting breeding stock. We cannot take breeding stock out of the picture for meat,” he said.
Improved flushing techniques and in-vitro fertilization accelerates the production of embryos delivered around the world. Promising females can be flushed at an earlier age and more viable embryos are produced.
The breed received its first boost when a small group of Australians started to buy embryos. The next step is building a branded-beef program in Australia.
The Canadian dairy market is starting to look at Speckle Park semen to impregnate cows when they do not want replacements.
“We see a huge market just in that alone. The amount of dairy cattle that get bred on a 12-month basis is always consistent,” he said.
The distinctive colour patterns remain dominant and the resulting dairy-based cattle are producing acceptable beef carcasses.
He credits the long-running beef carcass competition at the Calgary Stampede for adding to the breed’s acceptance. The live steer show did not always have many entries but they started to send those cattle on to the slaughter program and they started to win with AAA carcasses.
The next step is building the American market. Some buyers are interested in developing show steers and others are considering cross-breeding, as well as purebred programs.
“We need to be the best of the best to represent our breed in that country,” he said.
All this progress has changed Goodfellow’s life from being a rancher to a promoter. For him the next coup is a genetic sale called the All Breeds 365.com at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas on Dec. 7 that will include Speckle Park.