It is no longer a rarity to see Speckle Park cattle in the paddocks surrounding Mudgee and there's a great reason why.
Producers and processors alike are realising that Speckle Park cattle are not just a pretty face.
While they are definitely front paddock cattle, Speckle Park are making a name for themselves as premium carcass animals that offer producers a high value animal to turn off earlier and processors a high yielding, marbled carcass without excess waste.
Local Speckle Park Stud principal Alex Pateman began breeding Speckle Park 10 years ago after seeing them at Sydney Royal.
"As producers in the Rylstone area, we were after a breed suited to turning off premium animals at around that 400 day mark," he said.
"After seeing Speckles at the Royal we did our homework and found that Speckle Park were consistently hitting the mark in Canada."
And it seems that Speckle Park cattle are just as successfully hitting the mark in Australia.
A recent trial saw 76 F1 Speckle Park/Angus heifers go up against 61 Angus heifers - all of similar quality and randomly selected - that were custom-fed together for 100 days at Conargo Feedlot, Deniliquin, and then processed on April 16 at Kilcoy Global Foods in south-east Queensland.
The trial resulted in the Speckle Park-cross heifers returning an average carcass price that was $149 per head higher than the comparison group.
Seventeen of the Speckle Park-cross heifers marbled 3+, with one scoring a five, while only one Angus heifer marbled 3+.
The Speckle Park-cross heifers had a hot standard carcass weight (HSCW) of 291kg, an average P8 fat of 15.67, and returned an average of $6.90/kg carcass weight, or $2010 per head.
The Angus heifers had a HSCW of 289kg, average P8 fat of 16.61, and returned an average of $6.44/kg cwt or $1861/head.
The Angus heifers entered the feedlot 20kg heavier than the F1 Speckle Park/Angus group, and exiting the feedlot the Angus heifers were 17kg heavier - yet the Speckle Park-cross heifers yielded 2kg per head carcass weight more.
Speckle Park International (SPI) Technical Sub-Committee Chair, Paul Guy, said the results at the processor had piqued the interest of many in the industry.
"For MSA (Meat Standards Australia) marbling, 51.3 per cent of the Speckle Park heifers scored 400+, while 22.4 per cent scored 500+," Mr Guy said.
"Of the Angus heifer group, 21.7 per cent scored 400+ for MSA Marbling, while 1.7 per cent scored 500+.
"At the end of the day, it's dollars into our back pocket that pays, and in this trial, the Speckle Park heifers performed really well, ranging from $6.65/kg to $6.95/kg cwt, while the Angus heifer price ranged from $6/kg to $6.60/kg cwt."
Producers in the Mudgee area who are considering Speckle Park can move forward with confidence.
No longer considered a "boutique breed" in the area, Rose Hill Speckle Park Stud won Grand Champion of any breed at Mudgee Show this year.
Success has come in the Mudgee Saleyards as well. Local Commercial producers Chris and Shelly Barnett sell regularly at local fat and stores sales. They find the speckle cross are well sort after by local butchers who happily pay a premium price to secure them.
"Our PTIC F1's cows offered last month made $3400 at Mudgee store sale and were highly sort after cattle, bring the same money as heifers with calves at foot," remarked a very happy Shelly Barnett.
Want to know more? Come see and taste Speckle Park for yourself. The Rose Hill Speckle Park Stud Open Day is on Saturday, August 29 at 3142 Lue Rd, Lue.