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On the Land

14 June, 2022

Speckle Parks more than just a pretty face

START-up Speckle Park breeders, Anne and Bill Cover of “Beki” stud, Kairi are the latest cattle producers to join the ever growing contingent who will open their farm gates for the Better Beef Open Day in August to show the far northern cattle industry what they have created over the last couple of years.

By Sally Turley

Bill and Anne Cover have joined up to the Better Beef Open Day in August to show off their Speckle Park cattle.

Relative newcomers to the Tablelands, the Covers affirmed their commitment to their new venture when they traded their Brisbane home of 20 years for a fertile piece of lakeside, golden triangle country, and their super fund, for a pure-bred herd of Speckle Park cattle. 

With their combined cattle industry origins in the Kingaroy/ Dalby and Surat regions, the couple were ready to return to their roots after relocating to the city for their children's education decades ago. 

“We did a lot of research online before deciding on what breed of cattle would be best and the fast growth rate, high dressing percentage, carcase quality and temperament of the Speckle Park cattle stood out to us – plus they are really cute,” Mrs Cover laughed. 

The Covers got the project underway by acquiring a local Speckle Park herd based on Misty Valley and Bunderra bloodlines from Steven and Odette Plozza and a quality registered bull from Dorroughby Stud, Toowoomba, naming the stud after their four children, Belinda, Emma-Lee, Kristopher and Ian. 

“It may be a little early for us to exhibit our cattle this year, as we won't have any mature bulls left to show visitors but we are keen for people to see our Speckle Park/Droughtmaster and Brangus cross weaners,” Mr Cover said. 

“We actually believe that the greatest benefit to buyers might be through the cross-breeding opportunities they present, especially if the live export market disappears.

“For us it's the carcase that counts and Speckle Park are the ideal animal to add beef and growth to Brahman cattle.” 

The cross produces a “Brahicle” which is an excellent fit as an export or trade steer, hitting critical weight specifications much faster than the standard Brahman animal.

“Excellent results from last week's Wattle Grove Speckle Park Fire and Ice sale at Toowoomba, including the number of Speckle Park heifers being bought to go into other breed herds and their feedlot trial results, indicate the breed has outgrown their fad/boutique status and become a serious industry contender,” Mr Cover said.

“We want to breed medium to large-framed females to average around 600kg that are naturally polled, sleek coated animals with plenty of leg under them for ease of mobility. 

“Demand is absolutely outstripping supply at the moment and we are looking forward to showing off the three young bulls we will have ready for sale next year.

“We have bought two heifers and a cow/calf unit out of Scone and a young heifer from a Canberra stud, but it takes those southern-bred cattle about 12 months to acclimatise. I believe locally-sourced cattle do a lot better.” 

Anne Cover's early involvement in the Brisbane show, her Master of Business from the University of Southern Queensland, her 16-year stint as executive officer of the Australian Veterinary Association and her 2018 appointment as International Coordinator for Beef Australia in Rockhampton, have equipped her well for their new enterprise. 

While “Jack of all trades” Bill is able to turn his hand to anything, working for years in the information technology sector in network administration before entering the construction industry and getting his trade as a carpenter in his forties. 

“Once the kids left home, we wanted to get back to the bush and run a few head of cattle, but we had a few requirements. 

We wanted to be in an area with reliable rainfall, a good water supply for agricultural requirements and a moderate climate,” Mr Cover said. 

“We started looking around the crowded Sunshine Coast hinterland, but found out about the Golden Triangle area when our daughter Emily moved north to the Tablelands. We sold up in Brisbane and began the hunt in earnest.” 

Impressed immediately by their Kairi block, Mr Cover took one look around the property and was convinced it was the right one. 

They rushed settlement through in 14 days and began looking for cattle to stock it.

Tablelands Better Beef Open Day president Nick Trompf of Tallangalook Shorthorns and Santa Gertrudis is delighted to welcome the Covers as new vendors and to see the 2022 open day set a new record of 14 studs exhibiting 13 different breeds. 

The day, which has been described as the single most important marketing event in years has established itself as a major occasion on the annual beef calendar, exhibiting a broad crosssection of Bos Taurus, Bos Indicus and composite breeds.

“Attendance and sales have been growing every year and with spectators coming from as far as Beaudesert and New South Wales to buy bulls, I couldn't be happier,” Mr Trompf said. 

“The event is so enjoyable it sells itself and hopefully we will have 20 studs involved within the next couple of years. 

“We are thrilled to have a record number of event sponsors this year, with Elders joining Nutrien Ag, Kennedy Rural, Cross Custom Meats, Top Stock Agencies, Tableland Veterinary Service and National Australia Bank. 

Look out for the official guide in the 3 August edition of The Express.”

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