Family history: Father and son cattle breeders Eric and Laiton Turnham with the next generation, Dustin and Cooper.

Family history: Father and son cattle breeders Eric and Laiton Turnham with the next generation, Dustin and Cooper.

Australian Speckle Park pioneers 'open the vault' in world's biggest sale for the breed

Australian Speckle Park pioneers 'open the vault' in world's biggest sale for the breed

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One of the pioneers in the development of the Speckle Park cattle breed in Australia is holding what is expected to be the largest sale for the breed in the world.

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This is sponsored content for Waratah Speckle Park.

Mark August 31 on your calendar because it is the day of a unique opportunity in cattle sales.

One of the pioneers in the development of the Speckle Park cattle breed in Australia is holding what is expected to be the largest sale for the breed in the world.

New South Wales operation Waratah Speckle Park Stud plans to offer upwards of 250 female lots, ranging from weaners through to older cows, as well as more than 100 bulls and genetic lots.

"We're calling this our open vault sale because it's the first chance people will have to look in the 'vault'. There are a lot of items we're selling that we normally wouldn't," said Waratah Speckle Park principal Laiton Turnham.

"It's the best opportunity for anyone who wants to start a stud or make theirs significantly bigger."

Laiton, who at just 33 has more than 12 years of experience in breeding the originally Canadian breed, said the bumper sale is part of a consolidation plan to position the business for its next stage.

The sale is part of the succession planning strategy for the Guyra-based Turnham family which has been breeding cattle since the 1940s. Laiton is the third generation of cattle breeders in his family having grown up working alongside his father Eric, who later helped him launch and manage Waratah Speckle Park. Now in his 70s, Eric is planning his retirement, leaving the running of the business to his son, who has been the "driving force" behind its growth and success.

The sale is also expected to provide a significant profile boost for the breed. While Speckle Parks currently make up a relatively small section of the Australian cattle industry, they are attracting increasingly strong interest both locally and from overseas markets including New Zealand and the EU. The breed has recorded the fastest growth of all registered cattle across Australia and New Zealand during the past five years.

"When we first started with Speckle Parks we worked on growing quickly because we believed the more animals you can get out there commercially, the more successful the breed will be," said Laiton.

Three generations of the Turnham family inspecting Speckle Park bulls.

Three generations of the Turnham family inspecting Speckle Park bulls.

"So even though we are reducing our own numbers with this sale we will be achieving our goals of constantly working to improve the breed by getting many more studs started or making other studs bigger. We want to show the amazing potential of the Speckle Parks."

The Turnham family's passion for Speckle Park cattle started in 2007 when Laiton was looking for another breed to incorporate into the family cattle operation.

He had run his own Angus cattle since he was 16 but was finding it a challenge to make a return on them because the market was flooded with Angus genetics.

What caught his eye was that, in 2007, Speckle Park cattle had won seven out of previous ten years in the carcass competition at the Calgary Stampede in Canada.

"I thought to myself, 'Every breed has good animals in it and any breed could win something once, but not many could do it that consistently'. I thought if these animals are that consistent I want to be a part of that." Laiton said.

Waratah Speckle Park started in 2008 with 30 embryos and is now one of the largest Speckle Park studs in Australia.

The Turnhams' admiration of the breed has continued to grow with their experience and the business. "Since then we have done a lot of cross breeding with them. We love that they are early maturing, they have a good carcass weight and above average yields, they have fine tender eating meat and they are feed efficient." Laiton said.

Spot on genetics: Bulls the same as these 2019 Waratah two-year-olds will be offered in the 2020 sale in August.

Spot on genetics: Bulls the same as these 2019 Waratah two-year-olds will be offered in the 2020 sale in August.

'"They are also remarkably adaptable. They are walking around in snow over in Canada, and then we bring them to Australia and get 40 plus days and they seem to manage just fine. We have been through two significant droughts with them here and they seem to pick up faster than most other cows."

Waratah Speckle Park's commitment to genetics sees Laiton head to Canada every second year to source the best genetics in person. "If I find a bull I also want to go and see that bull's mother and sister and its cousins. It is so important to see the generations before," he said.

The 7th annual Waratah Speckle Park Genetic Vault Sale will be held on property on Monday, August 31 at Guyra, New South Wales, and multicast live with Elite Livestock Auctions. For more information head to the Waratah Speckle Park website or contact Laiton Turnham on 0420 548 299.

This is sponsored content for Waratah Speckle Park.

The story Australian Speckle Park pioneers 'open the vault' in world's biggest sale for the breed first appeared on The Land.

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