Passion drives Speckle Park endeavour

Jenny Churchill is a fifth generation Kilcunda farmer. FOR Jenny and Wayne Churchill, the Speckle Park breed is more than just something pretty to look at.

The brother and sister team and fifth generation farmers from Kilcunda decided to try their hand at the commercial side of the Speckle Park breed in 2009 and have been pleasantly surprised with the results.

These are the first Speckle Park cattle to be bred in Gippsland and Ms Churchill said they initially thought that hobby farmers would be their target market but commercial farmers have been the interested parties.

“In 2009 we imported 18 embryos from Ponderosa stud in Canada and started our Nunkeeri Park Speckle Park stud,” Ms Churchill said.

“After selecting the best surrogate mothers we had our first Speckle Park calves on the ground in January 2010.

“Since then, we’ve sold bulls and heifers to breeders in Cobram, Warragul, Coleraine, Flinders and Tatyoon.”

It’s the amount of meat in the calves that’s driving buyer’s interest and the Churchills see a real place for the Speckle Parks as vealer producers.

Currently, the Churchills have an arrangement with a neighbouring dairy farmer who is using their Speckle Park semen over his dairy herd so the Churchills can develop a commercial cross-bred Speckle herd.

“We will hand rare the calves and therefore develop a quiet and easy to handle commercial herd,” Ms Churchill said.

The Churchills have also imported 13 embryos using sire River Hill Traffic Jam and which will be implanted in December, whilst Speckle Park bulls and heifers continue to be for sale on their property.

Mr Churchill was first introduced to the Speckle Park breed when he was on a farm tour in Canada in 2008 where he noted the breed’s features and benefits.

“I was impressed with the carcase quality and the nature of the cattle,” Mr Churchill said.

Ms Churchill said the Speckle Park breed were a bit smaller and easier to handle.

“They have moderate birth weights and high marbling,” she said.

“They are also highly fertile and have high milk flow.”

Aside from the Speckle Park breed the Churchills also run a number of commercial Limousin and Angus breeders.

They run their stud cattle on 75 acres and their commercial herd on 400 acres.

At a recent Pakenham store sale they sold heifers weighing 322 kilograms to $724.

Mr Churchill has been involved with the Limousin breed for over 30 years and has shown cattle all over Australia.

It is these previous experiences that have led him to have a keen eye for beef and the initiative and knowledge to increase and develop his Speckle Park herd.

Ms Churchill has worked on the Kilcunda farm her whole life.

The property was previously a dairy and Ms Churchill and her mother, Emily, managed the farm together for many years.

It is obvious that Ms Churchill is passionate about the family farm and it’s this passion that she employs into the Speckle Park project.

Whilst it may take the brother and sister team a couple of years to build a large commercial Speckle Park herd, it won’t be lacking in enthusiasm.

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