World-wide search for best genetics

Dale Humphries, of Wattle Grove Speckle Park.
Dale Humphries, of Wattle Grove Speckle Park. Contributed

DIVIDING their time between Canada and several breeding operations across the country, the Humphries family say they wouldn't have their busy life any other way.

Dale and his wife Belinda are passionate breeders of speckle park cattle.

Speckle park cattle have only been in Australia about 10 years, originating from Canada.

Previously in construction for 25 years, as well as breeding commercial cattle, Mr Humphries first came into contact with speckle parks while on a building site.

The speckles caught his eye and after six months of research Mr Humphries purchased heifers in Canada and began breeding.

A decade on the Humphries now run Wattle Grove Speckle Park stud where they breed 100% speckles.

"We have about 250 head spread across properties in WA, SA, Victoria and Canada," Mr Humphries said.

"We're based in Oberon in New South Wales but with great managers and owners across the country it makes things really easy for us.

"A key focus in 2017 will be to increase numbers to keep up with demand.

"The demand in 2016 was huge and we'd like to continue to also improve the genetics in the breed."

Codiak Putnam 61Y is the sire of the $30,000 bull.
Codiak Putnam 61Y is the sire of the $30,000 bull. Contributed

Mr Humphries is the co-chairman of Speckle Park International (the speckle park breed society) and travels to Canada twice a year to source the best genetics available. He said the breed was proving to be a real contender with great weight gain results.

"They are ticking all the boxes," he said. "The eating quality is where they come into their own.

"We feed and kill our own and when you come in after a hard day and wonder why you're doing it, and bite into a piece of steak you know why.

"Everyone always says they have the best... But until you eat speckle park you have no idea."

In October last year the Humphries held their first annual on-property sale which exceeded all expectations.

Show bull Wattle Grove Codiak Magic K9 , who is a Putnam son and also sold at the sale for $25k.
Show bull Wattle Grove Codiak Magic K9 , who is a Putnam son and also sold at the sale for $25k. Contributed

Wattle Grove Speckle Park sold 28 bulls to a top of $30,000, securing a new national Australian breed record.

In the breakdown 28 of the 29 stud bulls offered sold to a top of $30,000 and averaged $10,822, 14 un-joined stud heifers sold to a top of $12,000 averaging $5707, one Flush lot sold for $14,000, three semen packages offered sold to a high of $200 averaging $156.67.

The top-price bull, Wattle Grove Project A L264, was taken home by Dennis Power and David Reid, of Minnamurra Pastoral Company, Coolah.

The 13 month-old bull, weighing 585kg, was sired by Codiak Putnam GNK 61Y and out of Codiak Good Golly GNK 11U.

He had an eye muscle area (EMA) of 104cmsq with rib and rump fat of eight and 10mm.

Wattle Grove Speckle Park.
Wattle Grove Speckle Park. Contributed

Following on from the sale, the Humphries sold a further 15 bulls not included in the auction to raise their average to $12,000.

"Everyone has their expectations," Mr Humphries said.

"But going into our first on-property sale we just wanted to make sure everyone had a good time and got fed and watered.

"We hoped for about $7000 average so we were extremely pleased with the result."

Eighty per cent of the bulls sold went to Queensland properties.

Mr Humphries said he worked closely with Steve Haywood, near Allora in Queensland's south-east corner, to help service the Queensland market.

"There's a huge demand in Queensland for speckle parks," he said.

"We'd had a good season as well and I'd like to see the cattle market stabilise.

"I think cattle prices will drop back a bit but its good when everyone can make a dollar out of the market."

In his role as co-chairmain of Speckle Park International Mr Humphries will spend countless hours on the road this year.

They are the feature breed at the Canberra Royal Show and will appear at the Melbourne Royal.

In July, Mr Humphries will visit Canada and be back for Sydney and Brisbane shows.

With roughly 250 members, Mr Humphries said Speckle Park International was the fastest growing breed organisation in the country, increasing by 15% a year.

Mr Humphries said showing was a large part of their operation. His 16-year-old daughter Claudia has her own stud Little Grove with sons Hugo, 13, Max, 9, and Henry, 7, keen helpers too. In between travel and family commitments, the Humphries will also start preparing cattle this year for show at Beef Australia in 2018.

The Wattle Grove Speckle Park team Dale, Belinda, Claudia, Hugo, Max, Henry and Spud the dog.
The Wattle Grove Speckle Park team Dale, Belinda, Claudia, Hugo, Max, Henry and Spud the dog.

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