World record at Melbourne

World record expected for Melbourne Show


Stock and Land Beef
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WHEN the Speckle Park got the nod as 2017 beef feature breed at the Melbourne Royal, no one realised they were about to set a world record.

WHEN the Speckle Park got the nod as 2017 beef feature breed at the Melbourne Royal, no one realised they were about to set a world record.

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For most of these spectacular cattle were brought together in the one place, for the one show.

At the moment that only required 89 animals – but for a very fledgling breed it is a tribute to its outstanding potential that it gets to be cock of the walk in the livestock pavilion.

Jason Keays, from Fish Creek Farm at the gateway to Wilson’s Promontory, will be bringing a small team to compete – his original entry of 10 has been knocked down to two heifers and a bull after he got offers too good to refuse for the others.

Probably not a bad thing though, as he has also been pretty busy as chairman of the feature breed committee in the run-up to the Royal.

He is also the proud owner of Fish Creek Farm Thunderstruck L1, the most decorated Speckle Park bull in Australia – including supreme exhibit at the Melbourne Royal and all breeds champion at Geelong. This impressive sire’s semen is now on the market.

And in another part of his hectic life, he was a judge at the Australian Fine Food Awards, celebrated with a gala dinner recently in the MasterChef pavilion at the showgrounds. For this chef, who grew up on farms and has turned back to his roots, the connection between producing a quality carcase and being able to work with that meat in a kitchen is a remarkable synergy.

“We have had Speckle Parks for the past six years after running commercial cattle, and we are working towards an inaugural on-property bull sale in 2020,” Mr Keays said. “Even that is an enthusiastic target, and we certainly couldn’t try it now, I doubt anyone would even want to with a herd that is as young as ours,” he said.

“My wife Sarah and I settled on Speckle Parks because we could see how well they were doing and how much better they could get.

Sarah and Jason Keays with stud manager Erin Grylls holding Fish Creek Farm Thunderstruck L1, the most decorated Speckle Park bull in Australia.

Sarah and Jason Keays with stud manager Erin Grylls holding Fish Creek Farm Thunderstruck L1, the most decorated Speckle Park bull in Australia.

“We were looking for something that was doable but that came with great carcase yield, a good tasting meat and when it comes down to the aesthetics, to a pleasant animal to look at, well you couldn’t do any better than a Speckle Park.”

Mr Keays said his background in farming, food, business and marketing really helped when it came to getting involved with a new beef cattle breed.

As well as the cattle he also runs on-farm dinner parties and his own catering business. He also has some of his steers processed and packed locally.

Fish Creek Farm is happy to partner with customers and negotiate a buyback agreement, because Speckle Park Cross cattle are fast becoming the most consistent performers in Australia’s meat processing.

“I didn’t rush in, I have been watching to see how certain lines perform, because I have been caught with a sire in the past that came with a big reputation and did not do anything for me,” Mr Keays said.

“I don’t like genetic surprises because they take a lot longer to breed out than they did to breed in so we really trucked around to source our foundation genetics in in Australia and New Zealand,” he said.

“When I saw how well they have been going, I started to investigate them more closely and started out with a small group of females and 30-odd embryos.”

He might not be ready for a bull sale yet but Mr Keays has shown how ready he is to fast track an idea he knows is a winner.

Apart from a contract bull buyer near Clermont in Queensland taking regular orders of young bulls, Mr Keays has established an ET coalition with other producers in South Australia, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.

He has provided the embryos going into recipients from a variety of breeds but all identified as having excellent maternal traits.

“I see it as a strategic network to help boost the whole breed,” Mr Keays said.

“The people we are working with have trusted us and our genetics to help them get started and I see some of their animals being here in 2020 for our first sale,” he said.

“Speckle Parks have a national at Scone, but that is a long haul from Mt Gambier, or Tasmania, even from Fish Creek.

“So maybe we will be able to develop a southern feature sale in the years ahead. A lot of people are starting to sit up and take notice and down through Gippsland a lot of dairy farmers are starting to buy some.”

As feature breed the Speckle Parks will also have an elite sale at the Royal at which Mr Keays will be offering one of his females – the bull and other female have more work to do back on the farm.

“We love doing this and it shows with the processes of our breeding programs and hope we can share this with you, even better if we can have some fun at the royal shows and enjoy the Speckle Park breeders and the hospitality the Melbourne Royal is famous for.”

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