Although it's only early days, Lenswood beef producer Anthony Schoell is impressed with the quality and growth of his first drop of Speckle Park-cross calves which sold for a premium in February.
Mr Schoell and his wife Janet run 140 predominantly Murray Grey/Angus-cross breeders on 230 hectares of owned and leased country in the Adelaide Hills.
For the past few years they have used Murray Grey bulls over their herd, but decided to try Speckle Park genetics after hearing about their carcase quality attributes.
Initially Mr Schoell got 12 cows artificially inseminated with Speckle Parks and was so pleased with the results he has since purchased a bull through the Ewyn Speckle Park stud at Balhannah.
"I had the Speckle Park calves and their mothers running with the cows with Murray Grey calves to get a true comparison," he said.
"When I had all the calves together in the yards before I sold them, I could see the Speckle Park-cross were just better finished.
"They made 341 cents a kilogram, an 11c/kg premium compared with the Murray Grey-cross calves, even though they were the same age and weight, I was very happy with the price."
The breeding program is split with half the cows calving in autumn and half in spring. This provides the Schoells with a spread of calves to sell and enables better utilisation of bulls.
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Mr Schoell likes to use a combination of visual appraisal and estimated breeding values for his bull selection with a focus on structural soundness and growth rates, particularly 200 and 400-day weight.
Cow weight is closely monitored in the lead-up to calving, but as soon as calving is completed, Mr Schoell will move them onto good quality pastures.
"I am able to irrigate some pastures so I like to get them onto green feed as soon as possible to get the cows and calves off to a good start, particularly the autumn calving mob."
I'm really pleased with the way the Speckle Park calves have grown out and I like their hybrid vigour too, I'll certainly be continuing with the breed.
Mr Schoell also produces about 250-300 bales of silage and 150 bales of pasture hay for stock feed.
The calves are all yard-weaned for a week on hay and silage at about 10-11 months of age, before being sold at 12 months of age.
An average liveweight of 330-340kg is targeted which the Speckle Park-cross calves met easily.
"The spring-drop Speckle Park calves are progressing well and will be weaned in May and sold in late winter."
Mr Schoell plans on retaining about 20 Speckle Park-cross heifers each year, which will be joined to Speckle Park bulls.
"I like to choose heifers with good structure and mobility, a good carcase shape and character," he said.
"I'm really pleased with the way the Speckle Park calves have grown out and I like their hybrid vigour too, I'll certainly be continuing with the breed."
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