We are thrilled to announce Australian Speckle Park Society’s  FEATURED BREEDER this week is Promised Land Speckle Park (PRO)

Welcome to the second of a series of articles featuring Speckle Park breeders in Australia.

Firstly, congratulations to Promised Land for reaching an impressive $17000 for Promised Land Eldorado; sold to Te Mooi Speckle Park.

At just over two years in the breed, Promised Land are a newer entry to the Speckle Park game and bring with them almost a decade of prior experience with purebred Angus and commercial herd breeding under the Promised Land Angus brand.  They pride themselves on offering genuine 100% pasture raised and sale-prepared, performance recorded animals.

Located on the mid north coast of NSW, in the promised land region, Promised Land Speckle Park is owned by Ian Oatley.  Overseeing daily operations is Alister Dieckmann, Farm and Stud Manager, and Grace Weick, Assistant Farm Manager.

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Running 40 stud Angus breeders, 40 commercial Angus recipients and 30-40 head for a PTIC trade program over summer, Promised Land also have 24 pure bred Speckle Park on the ground at this stage.

Speaking wth Alister Dieckmann, I asked why the switch to Speckle Park?  He was enthusiastic about the breed, adding that he believes, “ the Speckle Park breed has a huge potential to service the needs of cattle producers who run predominantly Bos Indicus breeding females who would use a Speckle Park bull as a terminal sire to produce an early maturing, higher quality carcass animal for the vealer and trade market.”

“We got into Speckle Park due to the growth of the breed and clients wanting to source Speckle Park bulls produced by our 100% pasture raised and sale-prepared policy.”

Specific to Promised Land Speckle Park, I asked what their breeding focus was.  Alister was adamant that for them it was solely based on producing seedstock bulls and females who have been raised on pasture, and performance recorded as such.

“This enables our current and future clients to have the confidence that they are buying a genuine performing animal. Not an animal that has been pampered, pumped full of grain to make them look better than their genetic potential would allow them to do naturally,” he explained.

The ultimate goal? “We want to breed functional, fertile, low maintenance cattle with a good constitution and longevity. We want our bulls to breed future matriarchs in our clients’ herds that will breed on for generations”.

So, with that in mind, Promised Land have adopted a more rapid and selective approach for now.  A focus on specific embryo combinations for ET and selection of proven genetics across varied lines is the pathway for greater genetic diversity and to create a solid group of foundation females.  Alister added, “from there we only adopt Artificial Insemination to join our females. If we require a bull  to back up the fixed time AI programs, we use our own yearling bulls to do so. Using our yearling bulls to cover the AI program enables us to see how our own bred bulls perform.”

And how do they select those AI bulls?  Alister explained that semen sires are chosen using the mating predictor on the SPI database. “ To qualify they should be a proven sire with even figures across all traits and of a high accuracy percentage.”  Choosing to use AI sires allows them to source genetics from all over the world.  Alister is a big fan of AI, explaining the advantage; “we are not locked into purchasing a high price bull that may not produce the desired progeny we are after.  AI is a great tool to eliminate those less fertile breeders in your herd and to tighten calving periods.”

Breedplan performance recording is a key part of the Promised Land program and Alister believes it’s an essential tool for evaluating genetic performance of an animal against other progeny carrying that bloodline.  He urged as many studs as possible to submit data for all cattle, to improve the accuracy of the Speckle Park database. He believes that as this improves, “it will lift the accuracy of the performance figures to give our clients confidence that the animal that they purchase is going to perform as their predicted Breedplan figures state.”

Promised Land measure and record the following:

– Birth Weight (within 24 hours of birth) 200day Wt, 400day Wt, 600day Wt : At the suggested breedplan date to weigh for that      contemporary group of animals.

– P8, Rib, EMA, IMF, Scrotal: Between 400-750 days. (Close to sale date depending if we are selling Yearlings or 2 year olds.)

– Semen tested and Vet Checked: before sale.

– Standard Genetic testing: with animal registration

– Frequent weight recording to evaluate performance and daily weight gain: ongoing

Aside from genetic selection, a large part of Promised Lands’ success stems from their localised nutrition protocol.  I asked Alister about pasture improvement and any tips he may have around feed, particularly relevant to other breeders on the mid north coast of NSW.  He was so informative, detailing their use of rotational grazing of a high stocking rate on small paddock areas for the shortest period, and additional soil improvement protocols.

“We have 32 fenced paddocks but we run a lot of electric fences to create more paddocks if we need to create greater herd density. By increasing density you get a better build-up of manure and urine and a crash grazing of the paddock where the animals eat all plants and they are not so selective. This allows for natural biology to build soil fungi and bring bacteria up to unlock minerals.”

“At any one time 80% of the farm is in recovery phase thus producing more grass. We direct drill plant rye, forage oats, chicory, plantain and clovers to cover our winter feed shortage. The rye and oats burn off when it gets too hot, but the others hang in there to lift feed quality up if we have a mild summer period. We also plant one or two paddocks of legumes like soybeans, lab lab or cow pea for silage, for better quality feed for the bulls over summer.”

Alister soil tests each paddock every two to three years to address any nutrient deficiencies but as a general rule, subscribes to the following improvements; “we fertilise with turkey manure to add carbon, phosphorus, nitrogen and potassium; use Aglime to address Ph levels; and apply mostly organic based fertilisers to address pasture requirements and build soil fertility.”

All  this effort certainly pays, and with fertile soils and a reliable year round rainfall in their region, Promised Land are afforded a great opportunity to produce excellent quality pasture.  Focussing on pasture raised animals, Alister explained the protocol for a year of feeding:

“ The breeders run predominately on Kikuyu based pastures with chicory, plantain and clovers to lift the protein level over the Spring to Autumn grass growing season. Early Autumn, we direct drill our better country with ryegrass, forage oats, chicory, plantain and clover.  This is where we run the weaners, prepare bulls and females for sale, and fatten any cull stock. The breeders (once their calf is weaned) run back on the dry stand of Kikuyu pasture where they calve out. Around July to August, the sale bulls for that year leave the farm, which allows the breeders with new calves to graze the remaining forage oats and rye until the Kikuyu begins to grow again.”

In addition, to cover any short fall, Promised Land produce round bale haylage and silage from any excess feed that the farm produces throughout the year.  Alister added that they are fortunate and  rarely have to purchase any forage or supplement feed for the herd.

In closing, I asked Alister what was the next big thing for Promised Land Speckle Park? He enthusiastically responded that they want to focus on “getting more embryos on the ground and back up next year with another top price sale bull.”  In the meantime, he’s looking forward to seeing Promised Land Eldorado’s calves.

All the best for the future, Alister and the team at Promised Land.  It sounds like you’ve got a tight handle on your program and a solid plan around your future with the Speckle Park breed. We look forward to seeing more.

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