Stud opens the gates for first time

By Country News

After establishing Black Diamond Speckle Park five years ago with just five females and a bull, the Macorna-based stud has gone from strength-to-strength.

Run by Andrew and Melissa Van der Drift with their children Murray, Blake, Rebecca and Emily, this year will mark the first time the family has opened the gates for Beef Week.

After purchasing their starting stock from Riverina Speckle Park during a Beef Week open day a number of years ago, their herd has now grown to 60 breeding age cows after purchasing other females from Waratah Speckle Park and Scone Speckle Park.

With more than three decades of experience breeding Limousins, Murray said it made sense for the family to get involved in Beef Week considering its key role in their move into breeding Speckle Parks.

‘‘The decision to try Speckle Park was made after hearing about how well they were doing in the carcase competitions overseas and their ease of laying down fat,’’ he said.

‘‘With the use of embryo transfer and our natural calves we have had 157 pure breed claves born in 2018.

‘‘Our embryo calves were mostly Canadian and were purchased following our trip to Canada in 2016 where we went to Canadian Western Agribtion and toured eight Speckle Park studs.

‘‘Moving from French Limousins designed for growth and high yield with minimal fat we were unable to be competitive in the Melbourne steer competition of which we have competed for several years.

‘‘We’re after easy fleshing cattle, larger muscling and that eye muscle area in all our cattle,’’ Murray said.

‘‘We’re interested in that big, beautiful T-bone on a plate. That focus on the eye muscle area — that’s our Limousin cattle background coming through.’’

Given the unique nature of the breed, Murray said the open day was the perfect opportunity for people to see the herd in the flesh, including several of their award winning steers from last year’s Royal Melbourne Show.

After taking seven Speckle cross steers to the show’s carcase competition last year, Black Diamond Speckle Park received five placings in the on-the-hoof section, while one of the steers in the on-the-hook section came second in the lightweight division, with the fifth highest score in the 180-strong competition.

It was a successful follow-up to the family’s first outing at the show in 2017 when Speckle Park was the feature breed.

‘‘We took five entries — two bulls, two heifers and a cow calf (in 2017),’’ Murray said.

‘‘We placed with all but one animal and achieved the Reserve Senior Champion and Reserve Junior Champion Females.

‘‘In 2018 our success continued, taking a team to the Adelaide Feature Show with all animals placing in the top three as well as achieving Junior Champion Female and Supreme Exhibit with our senior bull Black Diamond Marcho Man.

‘‘Our journey into Speckle Parks has only been a short one so far but we have tried working with the best of both worlds from what is here in Australia and what is still to be discovered in Canada.’’

Black Diamond Speckle Park will hold its open day on Friday, February 1 at 184 Hayden Lane, Macorna.