Written by Alison Bates
What do you need to know about Getting Started with Speckle Park? Here are answers to some common questions:
Can I breed pure Speckle Park by grading (breeding) up to a Speckle Park through cross breeding?
No. Speckle Park has a closed stud book. That means you can only breed registerable Speckle Park cattle from cattle that are already registered. You can’t breed up to a registerable animal by increasing the purity over generations.
Why should I consider Getting Started with Speckle Park?
Speckle Park are hardy and do well in a wide range of conditions. They are easy calving and have a docile nature which makes them easy to work. It is the meat production where they really shine. They offer a high dressing percentage and readily lay down intramuscular fat and an even fat cover. A recent trial has shown Speckle Park-infused cattle
out-performing Angus on marbling scores, hot carcase weight and returning a higher average carcass price overall.
Can you explain the colours?
There are four distinct colour patterns for Speckle Park; speckle, leopard, white and solid black. Black animals are registerable but can’t be shown.
What colour patterns will I get when breeding?
Nature can deal out a few surprises but generally you can expect the combinations shown in the above graphic.
How can I be sure I am buying pure, registered Speckle Park cattle?
View the Speckle Park Animal Register at specklepark.org to ensure the animals you are purchasing are listed and that they are the animals you are purchasing. You can check their details such as pedigree, birth date and some genetic details, including red gene, myostatin and horned/polled status. If a seller says an animal can be registered, ask them to register the animals before you
buy them. Having a contract in place which includes the verbal agreements which have been made will provide some protection in buying animals and ensure both parties have a common understanding of the agreed terms.
What is Myostatin?
Myostatin (NT821) is a recessive gene that influences the development of muscle. An animal can carry the recessive gene without any ill effect, but if it carries two copies of the recessive gene the animal will express the characteristic known as double muscling. These animals can’t be registered. Breeding with attention to the genetic profile of each animal means breeders can readily avoid breeding animals with this combination of recessive myostatin genes.
What is the red gene?
Some Speckle Park cattle carry the recessive gene for red coat colour. If they carry one copy of the gene, the black colour will dominate and the cattle will appear as black. These animals can be registered. Animals carrying two copies of the red gene will have a red coat colour. These animals can’t be registered, although they may be excellent cattle. Checking the red gene status of the animals you are going to breed in the registry will allow you to avoid breeding calves which express the red colour.
What is the horned/poll gene?
Speckle Park must be polled to be registered. Like the genes for red colour and myostatin, the gene for horns is recessive. The register will tell you if the animal you are looking at is polled and it will tell you whether the animal carries the recessive horned gene. Homozygous polled means they don’t carry the horned gene. Heterozygous polled means they do carry the gene but attention to the status of the animal you are breeding to will allow you to avoid producing a horned calf. The gene for scurs (incompletely developed horns which are usually not attached to the skull) is carried separately to the horned gene and has no effect on whether the animal has horns or not.
I want to buy frozen genetics. What should I look out for?
Make sure the cattle whose genetics you are interested in have an AI Sire or ET Donor Dam Permit in place on the Speckle Park International Register. Having AI sires and donor dams registered with the Canadian Speckle Park Association is insufficient to meet Speckle Park International requirements. You can check this on the animal registry. It will look like this “AI APPROVED :
Yes” for a bull or “ET Donor: Yes” for a donor dam. It is the vendor’s responsibility to have these permits in place so make sure your vendor is aware of this before purchasing semen or embryos. Check the genetic profile of the donors so you know the potential of producing red, double muscled or horned offspring.
Where can I go to get more information?
The Speckle Park International website www.specklepark.org has lots of background information, including buying and selling tips sheets, which are important pre-purchase reading. This will help getting started with Speckle Park.