Anthony Wilcox bought his first Speckle Park cow for a simple reason: his wife liked them.
“I thought that they were really good looking,” said Ariel Wilcox.
Speckle Park, a breed developed in Saskatchewan, is known for its black and white, dotted pattern. The smaller-framed animals are generally hardy, good mothers and produce quality carcasses, according to the Canadian Speckle Park Association.
“Cookie,” a Speckle Park Clubby cross, arrived on their farm as a Christmas present for Ariel. She still lives there, but now she has company.
Today, Anthony is president of the Central Prairie Speckle Park Alliance, which promotes the breed in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. He, his father and his grandfather, own a purebred cow-calf operation nestled in a valley just outside Treherne. They raise Simmental and Speckle Park cattle.
The Wilcox family farm was founded in the early 1970s, Anthony said. He’s technically the third generation to farm it, though his family lived in town when he was a kid.
His grandparents were 4-H leaders, and his parents were 4-H kids. Anthony’s parents have a picture of him, 11 months old, holding a 4-H calf.
“I think I always wanted to do it,” Anthony said. No one had to force him to show cattle — not that they would have, he added.
As a youngster, he and his brother spent a lot of time on their grandpa’s farm — forking straw, helping with calves, playing on the bales. They also helped to tame the calves for showing.
“I would be the main weight on the end of the rope,” Anthony said wryly.
Anthony accompanied his grandpa to shows and cattle sales. The shows themselves were cool, but they also gave him a chance to play with the other kids, and to spend one-on-one time with his grandpa.
After high school, Anthony initially went to university to become a teacher, but he soon changed his mind and got a degree in agronomy. This led him to a job in canola research with Corteva.
The family that shows together
Today, Anthony, Ariel and their two young children Emma and Daxson, live on the farm. His dad and grandpa also work on the farm.
They also continue to show their cattle. Actually, when the Manitoba Co-operator arrived on the farm, they were mid-haircut on three heifers. They were bound for a Simmental sale that weekend.
It’s good advertising — or that’s what they tell themselves, Anthony said. Competing is fun and a family affair.
“Some people go to the lake. We go to small towns and fairs,” Anthony said.
Three-year-old Emma did her first show this year with “Gypsy.”
“Emma just loves her,” Anthony said. Gypsy isn’t sure what she feels about Emma, he added, but she likes to nibble the little girl’s blond hair.
“Cross our fingers that she continues to do it,” he said.
As for the Speckle Parks, Anthony said they’ve seen a surge in popularity over the past three years. Their quality has increased, he said, which is the main driver.
The breed made its Ag Ex debut last year, with 18 entries at the Brandon show. This year’s Ag Ex had 41 Speckle Park entries. One barn at the Keystone Centre was devoted to the breed.
At the show, Wilcox told the Co-operator the breed had seen success at other Prairie shows.
“They competed really well at Agribition, which surprised a lot of people, I think,” he said.
— With files from Alexis Stockford