What are Speckle Park Cattle? What do they look like, what size are they, and what are their merits?
These are all questions to which you will want answers before deciding whether or not to invest in the breed.

Breed Characteristics

Speckle Park are genetically black with varying amounts of white in specific patterns. The speckle pattern is preferred but the other patterns are very much accepted. The speckle pattern is predominantly black with a white top line and underline, with speckled hips, and sometimes shoulders, and with a black or black roan face. The leopard pattern shows more white than the speckle pattern. In the leopard pattern the black sides of the speckle pattern are broken into a series of definite black spots. The number and size of the spots varies greatly from animal to animal. Some leopards have predominantly white sides with only a few black spots or splashes on their sides. The leopard also has a white top line and underline. The third colour pattern is the white with black points. Animals with this pattern are predominantly white on the body and face but always have black points, that is to say, the ears, nose, skin around the eyes and the lowest portion of the legs including the hooves are black, teats are also black. These same points are black on all of the patterns.







 Speckle Park are moderately sized animals. On the average mature cows weigh in at about 600 to 850 kilograms and mature bulls at 1000 + kilograms. Calves average around the 35 – 40 kilograms at birth and wean at about 230 – 350 kilograms. Speckle Park are polled, thus saving their owners the extra time and expense of dehorning, some have scurs. There is a very small percentage of blacks that do crop up from time to time. The solid black heifers are registrable and can be used in the purebred herd, but the bulls cannot.

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Traits With Advantages

Speckle Park have desirable traits which are advantageous to the cow calf operator, the feed lot operator, the butcher and the consumer. Here's why we raise Speckle Park.

1 - Consistently High Quality Carcasses Finished Efficiently

"In 35 years experience in the meat business, I have never butchered animals with such consistency and quality grades," says Martin Rijavec, former owner/operator of Vermilion Parkers Ltd., Vermilion, AB.

Feeders, meat graders and butchers are very impressed with the consistently high quality carcasses of the Speckle Park. Every breed can produce high quality carcasses but what is impressive is when the carcasses of a particular breed are consistently of the highest quality. Such is the case with Speckle Park. The consistently high quality of Speckle Park is demonstrated by their superior performance in carcass competitions at the Calgary Stampede and at the Olds College Steer-A-Year program over many years.

Another impressive fact about Speckle Park is their unique ability to produce AAA carcasses without an excess of outer fat cover. Speckle Park consistently produce marbled meat with a minimum of fat cover.

Speckle Parks have moderately sized carcasses. According to Fred Taylor, beef grades standards officer with the Canadian Beef Grading Agency (CBGA), the ideal size carcass is between 300 and 340 kilograms. The reason is the rib-eye area. The optimum rib-eye for the retail and restaurant trade is between 77 and 86 sq. cm. Carcasses in excess of 340 kilograms give rib-eyes too large to slice into 1" thick steaks and still maintain an 8 oz. portion that's juicy and flavourful. Consumers are looking for steaks of the right size and the best taste.

For the consumer the AAA well marbled beef ensures tender beef with excellent flavour. Beef from Speckle Park is typically finer grained with smaller but more numerous deposits of intramuscular fat (marbling). There is always a strong market for Speckle Park beef among those who recognize quality eating.

Where Speckle Park are recognized and turn up in numbers, Speckle Park influenced feeder calves are topping the markets at the feeder sales such as the one every October in Ponoka, Alberta.

Speckle Parks are giving every indication that they are efficient converters of feed. Speckle Parks can be finished naturally off grass with minimal, if any, grain inputs.

Speckle Parks are also demonstrating that they retain these carcass advantages when crossed on other breeds, either beef or dairy.

Speckle Park steers on test may be viewed at the Steer-A-Year project at Olds College, Olds, Alberta. Every year since 2000 Speckle Park have participated in this project. The official test begins at the beginning of November of each year and ends when the last of the steers go to market at the end of April. The Speckle Park steers entered in this project have demonstrated their consistent high quality carcasses over the years.

Speckle Park bulls on test may be viewed at the Lakeland College Performance Bull Test in Vermillion, Alberta, from October to March. The results of the ultrasound tests just prior to the sale consistently demonstrate each year the high degree of marbling in these bulls. For the monthly reports of the bull's progress click here.


2 - Calving Ease, Vigorous Calves and Good Maternal Instinct

Speckle Park rarely experience difficulty calving. The calves average 35 - 40 kilograms at birth and are extremely vigorous. Most newborns are up and sucking within minutes. One herd's average in one calving season was eleven minutes from hitting the ground to standing and sucking. Sucking does not require standing! Most heifers calve without assistance.

Speckle Park cows are very protective against predators when it comes to caring for their calves but easy on their human managers. The cows have well attached and tight udders which supply ample very thick milk. Coloured teats of course are an advantage in sun and snow country. Many commercial cattlemen are finding Speckle Park bulls a wise choice for breeding heifers. The smaller birth weights increase the calving ease, but also increase the quality of the resulting carcass.


3 - Quiet and Manageable

Speckle Park are cattle but as cattle go are very manageable animals. Their calm disposition makes them a pleasure to work with. They view strangers in the pasture with interest but do not flee. Aggressive bulls are extremely rare. Speckle Park breeders specifically and consistently select against poor temperaments. Accidents while working with cattle are almost unheard of among Speckle Park breeders.

Speckle Park animals are becoming a popular choice of 4-H beef members. For one thing they look different and their quiet disposition make them manageable by even the youngest 4-H member. It is unbelievable how easily some of them halter break. As one 4-H member put it, "They almost halter break themselves".


4 - Hardy and Healthy

Speckle Park grow heavy coats in the cold Canadian winter and slick off for the summer. They adapt well to cold winters as well as the heat of the summer. The black points on the animals - eyes, ears, nose, and feet and the black mottled skin under the hair coat lend themselves to few health problems. Pink eye is very rarely a problem and feet problems are rare. Due to the black teats cows rarely suffer from effects of sun.
They are tough, real tough, you can throw any harsh climatic situation at them and they survive, get back in calf, rear a good one, yet are so easy to feed and come back in condition quickly after hard times, traits that will stand them in good stead in Australia's harsh environment.

Early to reach puberty being "British bred" Speckle Park females cycle early and breed easy. The bulls sexually mature at about 12 months and make good yearling breeders. The results in artificial breeding are nothing short of amazing.

The first line of cows flushed for Australia in 2007, 24 cows averaged an incredible 11 (A) GRADE embryos per donor flushed, over double that of industry recognized average per cow for any breed. The quality of the embryos was described by Doctor Don Miller as "as good as you could see in a text book for a perfect "A" grade, grade 1 embryo. I have frozen non better in all my years of embryo transferring". The bulls drew over 200 straws of semen per collection at an average age of 13 months.

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Carcass Traits

Speckle Park Carcass Traits

Speckle Park have gained a reputation as a carcass breed of the highest quality and moderate size. The breed has established this reputation primarily by means of its outstanding performance in carcass competitions and steer tests. Anecdotal evidence also is abundant, but the following competition and test results make the point. The following statistics are based primarily on straight Speckle Park but also include Speckle Park influenced animals.

Calgary Stampede Steer Carcass Competitions

‘2001 Grand Champion Carcass – A Speckle Park’

In 2000 for the first time eight (8) Speckle Park steers were entered in the Steer Classic competition at the Calgary Stampede. All 8 steers then went on to enter the carcass competition. The results were impressive. Of the 98 carcasses in the competition, only 13 qualified as Sterling Silver beef, and four (4) of those thirteen were Speckle Park. In the following year ten (10) carcasses were entered and the Grand Champion carcass was a Speckle Park.

2006 Calgary Stampede Carcass Competition

In 2006 just days after being granted the status of distinct breed a Speckle Park steer won the Stampede Carcass competition. This win was also particularly significant because three of the first four placings were Speckle Park steers.

The following table highlights the performance of Speckle Park in this steer carcass competition.

Calgary Stampede Carcass Competition
2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003
Other Breeds Speckle Park
No. of Carcasses (in 4 yrs.) 289 37
Sterling Silver Carcasses 44/289 = 15% 7/37 = 19%
Grading YG1-AAA 48/289 = 17% 10/37 = 27%
Grading AAA 106/289 = 37% 15/37 = 41%


Calgary Stampede Halter to Hook (Heifer) Carcass Competition

Speckle Park made their debut appearance in the ‘Halter to Hook’ competition in 2002 with one heifer. In 2003 a Speckle Park breeder entered the competition for a second time and again with only one heifer. This second heifer received the second highest number of points in the live competition and the highest number of points in the carcass competition and become the Champion of the Halter to Hook competition.

Speckle Park Carcasses - Calgary Stampede
2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003
4-Yr. Average (37 Carcasses) Ideal - According to rules of the Sterling Silver Carcass Competition
Live Weight 1146 lbs.
Carcass Weight 696 lbs. 600-700 lbs.
Lean Meat Yield 60.69%
Fat Cover 8.2 mm 4 mm
Rib-Eye Area 86.01 sq. cm 80-89 sq. cm

Steer-A-Year Project, Olds College – 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003

Speckle Park steers have also been entered in the Steer-A-Year project at Olds College, Olds, Alberta, starting in 2000. Various breeds are represented in this project with 5 steers from each. The official test begins at the beginning of November and ends when the last of the steers go to market in about April. The Speckle Park steers entered in this project again showed above average carcass quality as indicated in the table below.

Steer-A-Year Project
Totals for 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003
Other Breeds Speckle Park
No. of Carcasses (in 4 yrs.) 264 19
Grading YG1-AAA 27/264 = 10% 4/19 = 21%
Marbling AAA 45/264 = 17% 9/19 = 47%


4-Yr. Average (19 Carcasses)
Initial Weight on Test 578 lbs.
Carcass Weight 655 lbs.
Lean Meat Yield 58.43%
Rib Eye Area 77.36 sq. cm


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History of the Breed

In late 1937 Mary Lindsay, the daughter of a beef farmer of Greenstreet Northern Saskatchewan, Canada, spotted a uniquely coloured speckled red roan heifer in her father's herd. The unique coloured pattern impressed her as she had always been interested in unusual colours in livestock especially cattle, she bought that heifer from her dad.

She found regardless of the breed of sire she bred the cow to it always produced calves with that colour pattern. It is believed that the heifer was a descendent of a Teeswater Shorthorn which carried the White Park gene as well. These two ancient breeds dating back to the 16th century were hard, strong and milky. Mary continued to breed speckled cattle and found that the speckled pattern was a dominant trait in her newer version of those ancient breeds. They were quite in nature and kept the hardiness of their ancestors.

In the late 1950's Beef cattle breeders, Bill and Eileen Lamont, of Maidstone, SK who at that time were breeding Angus cattle and Appaloosa horses came across Mary Lindsay's speckled cattle and simply thought speckled cattle would go well with their speckled horses and black cows, little did they know what they had stumbled upon.

In 1959, Eileen and Bill, bought their first speckled heifer from Mary and the 'wheels had been set in motion.' It was to lead to the development of what is now known as the Speckle Park cattle breed, one of the most dynamic and cattleman friendly of all the British breeds to ever be bred. The Lamonts crossed their "speckled" cows with superior registered Black Angus bulls in late 50's and early 60's. The resulting offspring came in a variety of colour patterns, some white with black points, some leopard coloured (spotted on their sides ) and some black sided with speckled hips, white top and underline and roan faces.

As the years went on the Lamont's diligent work in breeding high quality carcass cattle, light birth weights with speckles continued. After much deliberation they decided to name their cattle SPECKLE PARK cattle. Other beef cattle breeders saw them come through the cattle markets and bringing a premium price. Their interest grew in these hardy, heavy milking and distinctly marked cattle to the stage they started purchasing bulls and females from the Lamont's to try them in their herds. Within a few short years a dedicated group of breeders were now breeding Speckle Park cattle mainly from the Nielburg area of northern Saskatchewan. These breeders were hooked on these cattle.

The Lamonts could have quit these cattle with the Appaloosa look many times, what with all the trials and tribulations of keeping the breed afloat on their own but they were determined to make their Speckle Park cattle a pure breed. In 1985 with the help and support of nine of those other Saskatchewan cattlemen the Canadian Speckle Park Association was formed. Their aim from there on was to stabilize the breed and have Speckle Park recognized as a pure breed.

On June 4, 1993, Agriculture Canada approved the incorporation of the Canadian Speckled Park Association and were declared an EVOLVING breed of cattle. On Feb. 14, 1995, the Association's first set of by-laws was granted ministerial approval.

Unlike most other countries, Canada's Minister of Agricultural and through the Animal Pedigree Act insists on anyone trying to start a new breed have to go through stringent protocol procedures to have the breed declared a "DISTINCT BREED". This comes after the period of time the breed is in the EVOLVING breed status, all of which is overseen by Government Authorities. Stabilizing Breed characteristics and keeping pedigrees are two major protocols that have to be upheld.

History was made on July 6th 2006 when the Minister for Agriculture announced the SPECKLE PARK BREED a DISTINCT PURE BREED the first and only breed to be developed in Saskatchewan CANADA.

Today there are over 70 Purebred members and some 3,000 registered cows on the register in Canada alone. In 2007 and 2008 over 700 embryos and 1500 straws of Speckle Park genetics have been exported to Australia, New Zealand and Ireland.

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