Issue 71 | The Australian Wagyu Update, April 2019

Page 1

Vol. 71 The Wagyu industry’s premier trade magazine produced by the Australian Wagyu Association April 2019







Genetics, brands and reputation -


Conference a key industry event 12

Genetics of the Wagyu population new breeding guide


BREEDPLAN and you - benefits for


small, medium and large herds 18

MSA to evaluate Wagyu content on eating quality


SPECIAL REPORT - 30 years of Wagyu history

38 DNA testing top priority for leading Wagyu studs 42 SBTS/TBTS Regional Forums 44 Wagyu quality shines at Hog's


46 Changing the way we think about record keeping 49 Flush sisters or flush brothers are not identical twins 54 SNP but no PV, What's next?


Publisher THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU ASSOCIATION (AWA) 02 8880 7700 Consulting Editor DEBORAH ANDRICH 0400 855 040 Contributing Writers CHANTAL WINTER, Dr. MATT McDONAGH CAREL TESLING AND STEPH GRILLS. Art Direction HEATHER FRAZIER 0432 949 764 GENERAL ENQUIRIES AWA Chief Executive Officer Dr. MATT McDONAGH 02 8880 7700 Wagyu Update advertising enquiries HEATHER FRAZIER 0432 949 764




Celebrating the very best of Australian Wagyu, the 2019 Wagyu Branded Beef Competition had the greatest number of entries and companies in history vying to be the Grand Champion. Winners will be announced at the annual Conference in Adelaide in May (see page 9). The Australian Wagyu Update magazine is printed by Litho Art on paper stock derived from sustainable forests managed to ensure their renewability and preserve natural eco-systems for generations to come. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without the written permission from the publisher. Opinions expressed in The Australian Wagyu Update magazine are not necessarily those of the publishers. Acceptance of an advertisement does not imply endorsement of any product or service by the magazine or the association, nor support any claims by the advertisers. Every effort is made to ensure information contained in this magazine is correct at the time of publishing.





LESSONS FROM OUR PIONEERS Dear Members, It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome

For many of our pioneers, the focus has

successful winners of the Wagyu Branded

all our members into 2019, especially when

been and continues to be, a commitment to

Beef Competition, who will be announced

we are celebrating our 30th year of the Australian Wagyu Association. Firstly, I would like to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt thoughts and that of the Association, to those of you who are battling the odds as a result of drought, fire and also the devastating floods seen up in North Queensland. If members are able to lend a helping hand, or even just give some

improving the breed, and to develop new markets. We encourage all our members to follow their example to have the pledge to

during the Gala Dinner at the WagyuEdge Conference. The competition really brings

keep the Association ahead of the game.

together what our industry is about and the

As part of our 30th Anniversary, Keith

amazing quality beef we can produce.

Hammond of Robbins Island Wagyu,

Without sponsors, our conference and

who began one of our earlier Australian Wagyu herds and our third president will give a presentation at this year’s annual

competitions would not be the success story that they have become, so on behalf of the

conference, Wagyu Edge : Building

Association, thank you to our sponsors

help re-build morale.


for your support and we encourage our

As the Wagyu team gear up for what is

The conference this year will be held at

members to return that support through

the Adelaide Convention Centre and is

your business relationships. You will be

shaping up to be a terrific event, with plenty

able to catch up with many of the sponsors

time to chat we encourage you to do so to

expected to be another jam-packed year, I am excited that we are able to take some time to focus on where it all began and where we are today. It was a tough road for those

of quality presentations from across the Wagyu supply chain and some wonderful

during the conference.

opportunities to catch up with colleagues

Please join me to welcome XytoVet as a

recognise all the hard work that they have

and celebrate our industry.

provider of 50K DNA testing services and

put in place to establish the Wagyu industry

A highlight of the conference is the annual

I would like to extend my appreciation to

in Australia. Just think……where would

Elite Wagyu National Sale, supported by the

we be today if those cattle never came to

Association. This year, the sale is focusing

those members who supported the early

fruition in the late 1980s to mid-1990s where

on the top 5% of Wagyu genetics and is

more than 200 Wagyu live cattle exported

showing more interest from vendors than

to the USA – with many of them arriving on

ever before. The sale, conducted by GDL/

Australian shores, along with genetics that

RuralCo and AuctionsPlus will be the third

Wagyu BREEDPLAN and AWA formats.

has established our unique national herd.

year that it will be live and online, allowing

For those of you who are making the trek

In this issue of The Australian Wagyu

bidders at the conference and around the

who were early adopters of the breed and we

Update, we take the time to speak with some of those early forward-thinking individuals to learn their story as well as

world to participate. With such highquality cattle and genetics available, it is an that should not be missed.

the key events in those early days for the

I would also like to extend the Association’s congratulations to the entrants and



transfer and management of the necessary systems needed to bring it all under the

to Adelaide – it is a beautiful city – I look forward to catching up with you.

opportunity to secure premium genetics

putting together an overview of some of industry and the Association.

adoption of XytoVet as a provider and the

Chantal Winter President Australian Wagyu Association



ceo update


FIRST QUARTER HIGHLIGHTS Dear Members, The AWA Board met on the 25th and 26th and February in Brisbane


for their first quarter Board meeting. Key items resolved by the Board

Key changes with the new Neogen DNA testing prices and services

at this meeting include.

for Australian Members are

43 new full and associate members were accepted into the AWA:

As per the Constitution of the AWA, the Board reviews and approves

50K SNP Haircard

new membership applications for the AWA and accepted 43 new

50K SNP Tissue Sample Units (TSUs) $52.80


Genetic Conditions (CHS, B3, F13, F11) $26.40


Genetic Condition (CL16) – single test



Polled Gene Test



members at the February Board meeting. Changes to Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) funded R&D investments: The AWA has three research projects currently cofunded through the MLA Donor Company mechanism. This

development (R&D). The AWA R&D projects with MLA are:

New price



All prices listed are inclusive GST

mechanism allows Commonwealth funding (through MLA) to be matched to industry funds (AWA) to complete research and

Test price

OTHER FEES Storage of samples for more than 12 months

»» The Wagyu Net Feed Intake – Young Sire Progeny Test Program

by Neogen (effective March 2019)

»» The Crossbred Wagyu Genetics Research Project

Re-issue of results by Neogen, when not

»» The Fullblood Wagyu Collaborative Genetic Research Project MLA have notified their R&D partners (including the AWA) of

available at AWA

$1.10 $100 per hour,

on a 15 min interval

significant restrictions in funds available for investment in R&D


through its MLA Donor Company mechanism. MLA have sought to

»» The reduction in the TSU test is a result of samples requiring less

renegotiate expenditure on R&D over the current and coming three financial years. Resulting from negotiations with MLA regarding AWA project

manual intervention compared to other sample types. »» For members conducting MiP PV or SNP 500 parentage (nongenomic), some stand-alone genetic tests are still available,

funding, the AWA Board have approved a ‘slow-down’ in expenditure

including a bundle of CHS, B3 and F11 (not F13), CL16 as a separate

and reduction in total funding across the AWA research projects. This

stand-alone, the Poll Gene test and BVDV/PI.

will mean that although R&D outcomes will not be cut from AWA projects, these will be pushed back between one and two years to accommodate immediate R&D spending cuts.

»» From March 2019, Neogen Australasia will be charging a $1.10 GST incl. fee for storage of samples for longer than 12 months. Samples accepted by Neogen Australasia prior to March 2019 will

New DNA testing prices with Neogen Australasia: The Australian

not be subject to annual storage fees. Members will be billed for

Wagyu Association (AWA) has negotiated new DNA testing services

sample storage on an annual basis for samples submitted to Neogen

with Neogen Australasia. As a result, AWA will now also be able to

Australasia from March 2019. If members do not want to pay this fee,

offer DNA testing services for its international members as part of

they can choose to have their samples returned to them or destroyed

our standard member services.

if they do not require further testing to be conducted.




you wish to discuss further, and we look forward to XytoVet, as an

The AWA is now pleased to be able to offer 50K SNP Genomic testing services to our international members through Neogen’s USA, UK and Canadian laboratories. Key changes for our international members are:

Australian-owned and managed partner, supporting the AWA and

»» International members can request 50K Genomic testing services through the AWA DNA test request process using the International Member DNA test request form. An AWA international member service fee of AUD $16.50 per sample is being charged to incorporate the DNA testing requests and data returned from Neogen’s overseas laboratories through Neogen Australasia’s processes for reporting in the AWA required format. »» 50K Genomic testing for international members through a Neogen overseas laboratory will therefore cost AUD $61.60 for samples submitted in Tissue Sample Units. This cost includes the Neogen international member service fee. »» These prices are only available to AWA members requesting testing through the AWA using our International Member DNA Test Request form. Members will be billed through the AWA and DNA test requests must be completed and accepted prior to samples being sent to laboratories.

its members through processing quick turnaround samples for you. Xytovet are able to match pricing for 50K DNA testing.

CHANGES TO BYLAWS RELATING TO MiP PARENT-VERIFICATION REGISTRATIONS Changes to the AWA Bylaws regarding DNA testing requirements for registration have been made that will make it easier for members seeking to parent verify back to animals that only have International Society for Animal Genetics (ISAG) standardised MiP markers available and where there is no remaining sample or method available for DNA testing at higher levels (e.g., historic or international animals). Since 2017, the AWA has required that animals tested for Parent Verification (PV) using MiP technology, require a minimum of 21 MiP markers for registration. However, different MiP markers can be reported by different testing laboratories. The ISAG MiP markers are a standardised set of 12 MiP DNA markers that are reported consistently to ISAG standards across laboratories and are comparable across laboratories.


Effective from the 26th February 2019, changes to the AWA Bylaws

The AWA and XytoVet would like to express our appreciation to the many producers who were early supporters of XytoVet’s service. These members have assisted with samples and DNA testing to enable AWA and XytoVet to build the data transfer and management systems required for getting a new 50K genomic testing service calibrated for standard AWA parent verification and genomic services - including BREEDPLAN Single-Step EBVs.

standardised MiP markers if a 50K genomic profile is also provided

AWA has worked with XytoVet to ensure that the data formats required by AWA’s systems can be delivered in an effective and efficient process. There has been a requirement for significant programming and data reporting systems development to enable transfer of high-quality genomic information from XytoVet to AWA so that it is compatible with AWA systems. These challenges have been wholly resolved to the satisfaction of both AWA and XytoVet. Specifically, in consultation with AWA, ABRI and AGBU, XytoVet’s data output has been re-edited and re-formatted to ensure compatibility with both AWA and BREEDPLAN systems. This newly edited and formatted data has subsequently undergone rigorous assessment and validation through both the AWA and AGBU. This process has enabled us to not only ensure that all data is efficiently imported, but that post analysis output and results are consistent and compatible with all existing technology platforms and service providers. We are delighted to announce that XytoVet services to AWA and its members are now available to Australian members, providing processing and uploading of results within two weeks of receipt of samples. We welcome you to get in touch with XytoVet should

now allow us to accept parent verification based on the ISAG for the animal being registered. Examples of where this may be beneficial to members are: 1. Where International members are attempting to match MiP parentage information obtained from their local ISAG laboratories to parentage information derived from Australian or other overseas ISAG laboratories; and 2. Where Australian or International members are seeking to register progeny back to historical animals where only ISAG MiP profiles are available. The new By-laws require that where members are seeking to use the ISAG standardised MIP markers for parent verification, they are also required to provide the AWA with a 50K genomic profile for the animal being registered. This allows confirmation of parentage via similarity of genomic profiles with other registered relatives of the animal. This is a necessary validation to conduct to confirm the ISAG MiP-based registration to ensure the ongoing integrity of the Herdbook. We have many Australian and International members who can now benefit from registering animals that were previously unable to be registered under past By-laws. If you have a request for any further information or to enquire as to registering an animal affected by these By-law changes, please do contact our MSO registration team.




CEO Update

UPDATES FROM THE OFFICE Jeanette Rawlings AWA Senior Finance Officer We are delighted to announce that Jeanette Rawlings is the new AWA Senior Finance Officer starting in March 2019. Among her achievements, Jeanette has run her own accountancy practice in Canberra and has been the CFO for the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Jeanette’s advanced accounting and management skills will be a great asset to the AWA and we welcome her to the team. Meaghan Truscott has been with the AWA since December 2015 and helped to implement and document many of the standard financial procedures the AWA now uses. This has enabled rapid transition of financial procedures to new staff and greatly contributed to the overall efficiency of our services. We thank Meaghan for her hard work with the AWA during the last three years and wish her well in her new career outside of the AWA.

AWA Research and Development Officer The AWA has completed an agreement with of the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU) to employ an AWA Research and Development Officer. AGBU have provided the R&D to develop genomic testing within Single-Step Wagyu BREEDPLAN and Wagyu-specific genetic analysis for our members. This role will continue to develop AWA genetic systems for member use within AGBU and to advance the genetic understanding of our Wagyu population. Dr. Matt McDonagh

Chief Executive Officer Australian Wagyu Association

committed to growing , building and developing the WAGYU BREED JBS IS NOW BUYING

· F 1 Wagyu/Angus x, Wagyu/Shorthorn x (Steers & Heifers) · F 2 Purebred Wagyu (Steers & Heifers) · Full Blood Wagyu Please contact Jason Carswell or your local JBS buyer for more details.


Visit our website to find your nearest livestock representative.

J B S S A . C O M . A U | A N D R E W S M E AT. C O M 8


Jason Carswell | M 0499 773 878



GENETICS, BRANDS AND REPUTATION ANNUAL CONFERENCE - A KEY INDUSTRY EVENT The Australian Wagyu Association Annual Conference is a key event for the beef industry and for the Wagyu industry a source of knowledge and networking. The 2019 conference, WagyuEdge: Building Integrity aims to expand on industry knowledge that is specific to our very unique breed. To be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre, 8-10 May 2019, it brings together a host of well-regarded speakers, local and international members and affiliated businesses to build on the integrity of the Wagyu breed, genetics, brands and reputation. The breadth of presentations covers tools for breeding, feedlot knowhow, maximising the production systems and, in acknowledgement of the Association’s 30-year history we hear from industry leaders of their experiences from the early days to now. To cap off the event, the Welcome Function, Gala Dinner and Elite Wagyu National Sale represent opportunities to network with peers and industry, be part of the Branded Beef Competition winner announcement and potentially secure the highest level of Wagyu genetics. The Tour (11-12 May 2019) for conference delegates will visit Wagyu properties in South Australia and Victoria giving an opportunity to see the unique production systems that operate in temperate climates. Mayura Station, (South Australia) and Sher Wagyu (Victoria) both operate fullblood vertically integrated systems and brands that have both had award-winning recognition in Australia and abroad.

ADELAIDE 8 - 12 MAY 2019

 DAY 1 - WEDNESDAY 8 MAY, 2019 The conference gets underway on Day 1 at 10 am in Adelaide with the AWA’s former President Keith Hammond who will take us through our 30-year history. Keith and his family were among the early pioneers for the Australian Wagyu industry and he will bring remarkable insight into the trials and tribulations faced by those involved and has an excellent perspective on our industry’s growth and advancement and the AWA’s role in this. The morning session will build on our knowledge of Wagyu genetics using tools to analyse cattle data highlighting the importance data has on the value and accuracy of EBVs. The future trends in Wagyu feeders will be the focus of the afternoon session of Day 1. Representatives from the feedlot sector will look forward to the future of Wagyu in the feedlot system. Mort & Co, Rangers Valley and Kerwee Feedlots have been integral to the success of Wagyu in the Australian industry. The speakers will also take part in a panel discussion to review industry directions. Our Welcome Function in the evening of Day 1 will be on the rooftop of the Adelaide Oval looking back across the River Torrens to the Adelaide skyline.





Genetics, brands and reputation

 DAY 2 - THURSDAY 9 MAY, 2019 Day two will feature our first Keynote Speaker, Hugh Killen,

CSIRO scientist Dr Damian Frank illustrating unique properties

CEO of AACo. One of the most recognised companies in the

of Wagyu that affect flavour and consumer sensory perceptions.

Australian beef industry and owner of one of the world’s largest

Following on, delegates will be presented with information on trends

Wagyu herds, genetics have been an integral and long-standing

and future directions within the feedlot industry going through

part of the company’s premium branded beef strategy. Given

critical control points for optimising production and quality.

the broader perspective that AACo has on the world market,

Our Gala Dinner will round out the day – an event not to be

Hugh’s presentation will be followed up with coverage of key international market forces and opportunities by MLA’s in-

missed! Once again, we will have a celebration of Wagyu beef, kindly

country expert, Andrew Cox.

provided by Mort & Co. The event is an excellent opportunity to

Drilling in on Wagyu production and quality aspects of Wagyu,

take part in the annual Charity Auction and celebrate with our

we will have presentations discussing performance attributes

industry as we toast the winners of the 2019 Wagyu Branded

and how these influence breeding and management, followed by

Beef Competition.

Taste the Experience

Since 1991 Ph 03 5368 2345





 DAY 3 - FRIDAY 10 MAY, 2019 Day three will be split into two sections; the morning session will focus on vertically integrated operations from here and abroad and delve into strategies for our industry to move forward with best credentials around aspects of sustainability and community. The morning session will conclude with an industry panel Q&A session to discuss what is needed for the foundations of a sustainable Wagyu industry. Breaking for lunch, join us in a celebration of the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition tasting the very best that the Australian Wagyu beef industry has to offer, including medal winners from all categories. The final event in our program turns the conference stage into a live auction room with the Elite Wagyu National Sale. Commencing at 3 pm (Adelaide time),

the auction showcases the very best of Australian Wagyu genetics on offer. Now in its 6th year, the Elite Wagyu National Sale, in previous years has seen remarkable, record-breaking bids including a winning bid for a Poll Wagyu Bull at $185,000, sired by famed Mayura Itoshigenami Jnr. This year bulls, semen, females and embryos will be on offer, representing the best of Wagyu genetics as well as an additional class for special interest lots including polled Wagyu. With a greater number of vendors participating than ever before the Elite Wagyu National Sale, allows buyers a stronger opportunity to secure the very elite genetics of Australian Wagyu.




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WAGYU Pasture Finisher Pellets

for very early weaning or creep feeding wagyu beef calves less than 100kg liveweight.

for early weaning or creep feeding wagyu calves greater than 200kg liveweight.

for early weaning or creep feeding wagyu calves from 100 – 200kg liveweight.

for finishing Wagyu cattle on pasture.

To view our full range of products visit ISSUE 71 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE


GENETICS OF THE WAGYU POPULATION THE 2019 AWA WAGYU BREEDING GUIDE The Guide brings together core information relating to the genetics of our Wagyu population. It is a reference document for Wagyu breeders that covers:

their breeding programs to accelerate genetic gain. The

»» A brief background into the development of Wagyu in


Australia; »» Provides information on prefectural blood lines and genetic diversity; »» A description of EBVs and selection indexes; »» An overview of known genetic conditions/disorders within Wagyu; and »» Different lists of registered animals according to their published breeding values through Wagyu BREEDPLAN First published in 2015 to simplify the selection process for breeders, it provides a listing of bulls and females in the Australian Wagyu Association’s (AWA) database with substantial performance and carcase data recorded. Well described, high performing Wagyu genetics are called for in both the Fullblood and Crossbred Wagyu supply chains. In response, in the last few years the Wagyu seedstock registrations have increased by about 20% each year; all DNA parent verified to ensure accurate pedigree. Realising that EBVs for animals registered with the AWA change as additional performance recording information is contributed by members, or as new genomic profiles are added and new animals are registered, it is necessary to continuously update the animal tables listed within the Wagyu Breeding Guide. The animal tables within the Wagyu Breeding Guide will be updated regularly online so that the information remains current. In addition to providing lists of proven sires and dams, the Guide now also includes a list of young sires with >50% accuracy so that breeders can consider these animals within 12


following requirements apply for an animal to qualify to be listed in the Guide:

»» More than 10 progeny registered »» Registered progeny born in the last three years »» Minimum accuracy of 80% for 200 Day, 400 Day or 600 Day Weight

DAMS »» More than three progeny registered »» Registered progeny born in the last three years »» Minimum accuracy of 80% for 200 Day, 400 Day or 600 Day Weight

YOUNG BULLS »» Must be less than five years old »» EBVs better than breed average for 200 Day, 400 Day or 600 Day Weight »» Minimum accuracy of 50% for 200 Day, 400 Day or 600 Day Weight or 50K SNP genotyped These new $Indexes are targeted specifically to a defined production and market scenario and members should identify and use the index which best suits their purpose. It is not appropriate to compare index values of different $Indexes as they are based on different production model assumptions. This Guide enables you to apply your own priorities and select appropriate sire and dam breeding for your herd. Where your selection of seedstock genetics is unavailable for purchase, a review of pedigrees will provide a direction for alternative selection.



Using this guide is simple. First, identify your highest breeding priority, such as:

The Wagyu BREEDPLAN analysis provides the most thorough and accurate assessment of the Wagyu genetics available outside Japan. The analysis includes 84,000 dams and 10,000 sires. In addition, there are 24,000 animals with birth weights, 28,000 with weaning (200 Day) weights and 24,000 with 400 Day weights. Carcase data includes 7,000 carcase weights, 3,900 carcase EMAs, 6,700 carcase Aus-Meat marble scores, 3,000 camera marbling percent measures and 3,000 camera fineness index measures.

»» Improve growth and maintain marbling; »» Improve marbling and maintain growth; »» Improve carcase weight; »» Selecting the most reliable proven bulls; or »» Maximising slaughter progeny returns. Use the EBV or Index List that meets your highest priority breeding objective and select the animals most suited to your breeding objective. For full access for the most up-todate Wagyu EBVs and BreedObject $Indexes covering the entire Australian Wagyu Association recorded animal population, go to


Wagyu BREEDPLAN now uses genomic information, which improves the accuracy of Wagyu EBVs, most noticeably for young animals or those with little recorded performance information. Since April 2018, more than 20,000 genomic profiles

Excellence without Compromise



(50K SNP genotypes) have been entered into BREEDPLAN by AWA members, significantly improving EBV accuracy, especially for non-performance recorded animals across BREEDPLAN.

The 2019 Wagyu Breeding Guide will be published as a hard copy, available at the 2019 WagyuEdge : Building Integrity Conference or through the AWA office. This information will also be provided online through the AWA website.

Mayura is proud to offer genetics from recently deceased elite carcase sire Itoshigenami JNR in the Elite Wagyu National Sale in May Itoshigenami is the most prolific carcase sire used at Mayura Station. With over 800 carcases now recorded to still have an average Ausmeat MS of 9+ is quite remarkable. His EMA is consistency herd leading and he has the ability to improved carcase weight. JNR now has sired a number of females and bulls in the Mayura herd and he is consistently passing on his superior carcase traits to them. Itoshigenami JNR is in the top 1% of the National herd for MS, EMA, SRI, FTI and F1I.



Ginjo AI Sires:



Ginjo AI sires are bred to compete with the world’s best - at the Japanese market level. Offering a calculated combination of prefectural genetics rare outside Japan. Providing the assurance of recessives free, genetic diversity. Delivering commercial solutions with an optimum balance of temperament, growth and marbling. Visit the Australian Wagyu Forum website to see how the Ginjo AI bull battery compares with the current leaders in Japanese fullblood carcass production. Compare the top Japanese bulls of recent years with the genetic composition of these sires. We believe they are unique in the world: Outside Japan.

NEW 2018 BULLS Ginjo Kitahatsuhi L9 (GINFL00009). Combines the distinct Tottori/Kedaka growth lines of Hirashigetayasu (001) and rare Kitahatsuhi 97/1. Two infusions of 100% Tajima in Kitateruyasudoi (003), plus TF151 Itozurudoi. Massive growth with proven marbling, offering options (with Ginjo K930) for joining decisions that capture rare diversity and exceptional performance. EU COMPLIANT

Ginjo Kitaitonami L965 (GINFL00965) Unique ‘semen available’ son of Westholme Kitaitonami , sire of 127 registered AACo fullblood bulls. Do these progeny numbers suggest extraordinary performance in a huge, secretive and very well recorded FB herd Dam side reinforces MS, plus big CWT influences – from Itomoritaka (002), TF 147 Itoshigefuji and TF151 Itozurudoi. All well demonstrated in 2017 drop progeny.

Ginjo MarbleMax™ Sekinami (GINFJ0828) Outstanding early growth recorded in the sire. Delivers rare genetics from high Tottori/high growth foundation female Seki 5 Daimoto 2 over an outlier, high growth Itoshigenami son,GINFW088. Pedigree also packages 003 and our all-time top MS scoring female Ginjo W110 (GINFW0110), dam of a JMGAequivalent BMS 11 feeder at AACo Aronui.

Ginjo Hatshira K930 (GINFK0930) 2016/2017 Best seller. Packages the recorded genetic potency and rarity of Kitahatsuhi 97/1 with the proven all-round capabilities of Ginjo MarbleMax B901 and TF147 Itoshigefuji. Trait leader for early growth. Outstanding FB marbling in the pedigree.

Ginjo Shigefuku K921 (GINFK0921) A unique sire for Japanese-style line breeding. Believed to be the highest Tottori/Kedaka infused AI sire available outside Japan. Progeny of Shigefuku (005)one of two international sons of the famous Dai 20 Hirashige (the other is Hirashigetayasu). Dam sire is Itomoritaka son, Echigo Farms B1001, proven carcass sire of Ginjo feeders at AACo Aronui. Dam/dam is Ginjo C868, one of the two best full flush sisters to Ginjo MarbleMax™ Hiranami B901. A genetic gem.

ESTABLISHED SIRES Ginjo MarbleMax ™ Hiranami B901 (GINFB0901) Proven all-round carcass performance, breeder production & F1 sire. Over 550 registered FB calves in 14 AWA recorded herds. Semen stocks limited.

For further details on the sires, visit the Australian Wagyu Forum website: Prices: Domestic Semen Prices: $AUD45 - $AUD65 per Unit. International Pricing & Availability: POA

MIKE BUCHANAN| GINJO WAGYU: 125 Pindimar Road Tea Gardens NSW Australia 2324 Postal: PO Box 71 Tea Gardens NSW Australia 2324 m: +61 437 047 234 t: +61 2 4997 0482 e: Founding Member: Australian Wagyu Forum




There is a misconception that only large herds have the scale to make performance recording for submitting data to Wagyu BREEDPLAN effective. This is not the case.

MAKING A CONTEMPORARY GROUP Whilst there will always be interest in performance recording to prove young sires, half of the genetic improvement comes from the cow base of a herd. The cow base of the herd also remains long after the bull has changed. Performance recording of the cow and its progeny can significantly affect EBVs and increase the accuracy of EBVs for the cow herd. The cowherd is the foundation of your genetic improvement. Smaller herds can achieve significant benefits from Wagyu BREEDPLAN, and animal performance data from such herds is useful for all, not just to that herd. This article will address strategies to get the most out of BREEDPLAN regardless of the size of your herd.

For making a Contemporary Group the following should be considered... Wagyu BREEDPLAN directly compares the performance of an animal with the performance of other “similar” animals within the same contemporary group. Calves will be analysed in the same contemporary group if they:


»» were bred in the same herd,

Registering animals and getting 50K genomic information on them will allow genomicenhanced EBVs (Estimated Breeding Values) to be reported for your animals through BREEDPLAN. It is linking pedigree and 50K genomic information to performance

»» are of the same birth number (ie. twins are not compared with single calves),

The performance data submitted to BREEDPLAN by members underpins the strength of the EBVs. ... records of genetically similar animals that is the most important component. To get the best estimate of the genetic merit of your animals, you need to submit your own performance records that relate to your animals. This will improve the accuracy of the EBVs and can change the EBVs for those animals, their parents and their progeny. The best estimate of the genetic merit of your animal comes when you have submitted performance data on your animal. Recording and submitting performance data is time consuming and high attention to detail and accuracy is required. It is therefore important if you are going to put in the effort to record performance data on your herd, to make sure it will be effective in BREEDPLAN. >> page 16

»» are of the same sex,

»» are of the same birth status (ie. ET calves not compared with AI/natural calves), »» were born in the same calving year, »» were born within 45 days (for birth and 200 day weight comparisons) or 60 days (for 400 and 600 day weight comparisons) of each other, »» have been weighed on the same day (and have the same weighing history), »» have been run under the same conditions.





STRATEGIES FOR GETTING THE MOST BENEFIT OUT OF PERFORMANCE RECORDING 1. Using performance recording for the animal’s own EBV, e.g. a young heifer or bull: To compare animals, you need at least two animals in a contemporary group to ensure the performance records for these animals contribute to their own EBVs. As discussed in our September 2018 edition of the Wagyu Update, Volume 69, the more animals in a contemporary group, the more powerful the data is. A group of at least six animals, with more than one sire used, is a useful base for genetic evaluation. 2. Using performance recording to improve the females’ EBVs: The EBVs of the cow herd and their accuracy have an equal outcome on the EBVs of the progeny (compared to the bull used). Performance recording progeny within small contemporary groups to improve EBVs for your cow herd can increase EBV accuracy for your young breeding stock, particularly through use of 50K genomics. Once a cow has progeny performance recorded, this data contributes to informing the genetic merit of the cow and future progeny. A minimum of two animals is required in a contemporary group, but again, six animals provides a good level of effective data. 3. Using performance recording for proving a sire’s EBVs: In this case, you need a minimum of two sires represented within the contemporary group so that an individual sire is being compared against to at least one other. Each sire needs to have a minimum of two progeny to affect the sires EBV for a trait, but preferably five progeny each to get reasonable improvements in EBV accuracy. In this instance, a minimum contemporary group size of 10 animals – with at least two sires represented is recommended. 4. Using performance recording to obtain high accuracy EBVs early in life: Taking the best advantage of performance recording for a small herd requires use of all three strategies. This will enable better calculation of EBVs with higher accuracy, sooner. Having higher accuracy EBVs for the sire and dam will provide higher accuracy EBVs in the progeny. 50K SNP genotyping the progeny and recording its performance will likewise impact the progeny’s EBVs and improve their accuracy. 16


CONSIDERATIONS FOR CAPTURING AND USING CARCASE DATA IN PERFORMANCE RECORDING The Wagyu industry is unique among the performance recorded breeds in that there is a high volume of cattle processed annually for which slaughter data relating to the final carcase outcome is captured by supply chains which in turn, underpins the genomically-enhanced BREEDPLAN EBVs. In many instances, accessing this information for the purposes of submitting it to the AWA for use in Wagyu BREEDPLAN to improve EBVs requires arrangements through the supply-chain back to the original animal breeder to be agreed. If you are seeking data from supply chain partners for submission to Wagyu BREEDPLAN, in addition to ensuring you can obtain this data, you need to also ensure that the contemporary group structure you have created on-farm is maintained through the supply chain. For example, if you have 10 animals born in a contemporary group and managed as one group for the purposes of proving two or more young sires, these animals need to be kept in a that group until slaughter. That is, the contemporary group needs to be maintained whole-of-life up to the point of processing in the same facility. It does not matter if the animals are mixed with other animals in a feedlot pen or trucked with other animals to slaughter, as long as the animals are all handled the same way. If the contemporary group is split and slaughtered on two different days, this will reduce the effectiveness of the data. In this situation, it is vital to have recorded that they have been split. For additional information, see the BREEDPLAN Tip Sheet: Small Herds - Obtaining Effective Results from BREEDPLAN



Genetics usually only accounts for 30 – 50% of the differences in trait performance in beef cattle. Without a genetic evaluation system (Wagyu Single-Step BREEDPLAN), it is impossible to determine if the performance of an animal is due to its genes, or due to its management.

Wagyu BREEDPLAN uses performance records submitted within contemporary groups of animals. By looking at differences within a contemporary group, Wagyu BREEDPLAN can determine performance differences that are due to genes.

There can be extreme environmental and management differences between Wagyu production systems in Tasmania compared to Queensland’s Gulf country, or early weaning and grain backgrounding compared to extensive northern pastoral production systems. These differences have a large effect on the physical performance of an animal. It is impossible to physically compare animals from different production systems and determine their genetic merit without a rigorous genetic evaluation system. Understanding genetic merit requires removing the large effects of environment and management system so that the true value of the genes can be estimated.


... BREEDPLAN is the Wagyu industry’s publicly available genetic evaluation system

Put simply, BREEDPLAN is the Wagyu industry’s publicly available genetic evaluation system. It uses performance records (actual measurements on animals) along with pedigree and genomic information, to estimate the genetic merit of individuals. This allows producers to identify which animals have higher or lower genetic merit for traits they are interested in, and they can use this in their management and breeding decisions. To get the most out of Wagyu BREEDPLAN, you need to: »» register animals with the AWA so their pedigree information is available; »» submit performance data on animals in their

The next step is to compare between groups. This depends on the existence of genetic links between groups - a simple example is where a sire has progeny in several different management groups. In each group, the progeny of that sire will be compared with the progeny of other sires, and the common sire essentially provides a base for comparison of the sires used in the various groups. In this case, the common sire provides a genetic link. For more information on genetic linkage, see the BREEDPLAN Tip Sheet: Understanding Genetic Linkage

Within Wagyu, we have exceptional genetic linkage between herds due to the common recent ancestry across our industry. There is a high prevalence of use of common sires such as IMUFQTF148 Itoshigenami (5020 progeny), WKSFM0164 World K’s Michifuku (4848 progeny) and IMUFQTF147 Itoshigefugi (3907 progeny) as a few examples. These sires and others that are used across different herds are called ‘reference’ or ‘link’ sires by geneticists. Reference or link sires allow the performance data of progeny from mating’s in different herds to be benchmarked across herds. Even having a sire used within one other herd is helpful in creating linkage so your herd can be benchmarked.

management groups; and »» use 50K genomic tests to accurately resolve the merit of the genes provided from the sire and dam in their progeny.




For the past 30 years, the Australian beef industry has become increasingly aware that Wagyu is special in terms of eating quality. However, much of that knowledge has been accumulated over years from consumer and market demand for the product through premium outlets and markets. There is little underpinning hard science from an Australian perspective, to enable integration of these market characteristics for Wagyu into the national Meat Standards Australia system. Approximately 90% Australian produced Wagyu and crossbred-Wagyu product is sold to highvalue international markets using Marble Score descriptors based on the AUS-MEAT language. AUS-MEAT Marbling Scores are therefore the key recognised parameter for trade of Wagyu. Running parallel to the Australian Wagyu industry has been the development of Meat Standards Australia (MSA), who’s basic aim is to give consumers a quantified value on what the eating quality is for any individual beef meal and to score it accordingly. For a number of reasons, including the unique production and quality attributes of Wagyu, it has not been an easy fit within the MSA model. There are however, plans afoot, to include Wagyu in the MSA model as a strategic initiative to allow MSA to more accurately describe Wagyu eating quality and to account for the higher volumes of crossbred Wagyu product from different female base breeds within the Australian market. A key figure in the MSA system, is Rod Polkinghorne, who was part of the original group to develop the MSA model some twenty years ago.

Ideally, the MSA model could determine if an Angus sirloin for example, with the same marble score as Wagyu would have a different eating quality outcome ...

During MSA’s journey, a number of scientific developments have occurred, led by the MSA Pathways Committee, to ensure that the model is working appropriately and reflecting real-world experiences, such as studying the effects of HGPs and most recently retail packaging on eating quality. However, accounting for the effect of Wagyu for crossbred cattle, has not been one of those studies. “There are two main issues why Wagyu has not been included in the model in the past,” said Rod. “The first is that comparing commercial Wagyu production with another breed is not the same playing field – a Wagyu steer may be fed for 400 days, while other breeds such as Hereford and Angus might only be 50 to 100 days, so it is difficult to scientifically say that traits such as marbling or eating quality differences are due to genetics rather than feed.

“Another issue is that for many years, Wagyu has not had the volume in the breed to give strong statistical analysis, and setting up research projects to directly compare fullblood Wagyu and crossbreds have hit a number of unsurmountable hurdles and fallen through.” 18


To add further complexity to the MSA model mix, is bos indicus content.

they will be constant throughout,” said Rod.

Currently, producers are required to indicate the proportion of bos indicus is present and this with an over-riding input of the hump height in relations to carcase weight, is estimated to determine the points reduction for each muscle in the overall MSA calculation. It has been shown in previous research that hump height does have a correlation to bos indicus content and consequently eating quality.

As the research outcomes become available and analysed by the

What many may not know is that Wagyu too, has a hump, but is often as a result of the larger carcase weight over other breeds and may not have a negative effect on eating quality. By understanding the Wagyu content and therefore applying the necessary calculations to hump height, may reduce the impact on the overall rating.

a period of time including collection of cuts for consumer testing , for

Ideally, the MSA model could determine if an Angus sirloin for example, with the same marble score as Wagyu would have a different eating quality outcome. An opportunity to gather more data from Wagyu and Wagyu cross cattle of differing breed mix and percentage fed together under identical conditions and for the same period is being pursued to resolve these difficulties and provide sufficient data to introduce a Wagyu specific MSA model calculation.

Pathways Committee, they will get incorporated into the commercial MSA Model and a Wagyu ‘button’ could be activated. “The ideal scenario would be to have a mix of zero percentage to fullblood, with known genetic backgrounds, in a controlled early growth and feedlot environment and take sequential carcase assessments over example after 50, 100, 200 and 400 days on feed The Wagyu industry, particularly in the Australian Market, may benefit from the inclusion of Wagyu content in the MSA model as it will underpin consumer assessed claims using the established MSA principles. In the past, under MSA for domestic market outcomes, some Wagyu product may have been downgraded for issues such as hump height or an inability to adequately evaluate marble score, particularly for harder to sell cuts such as rump. “The desirability of incorporating Wagyu into the MSA model has increased considerably during the past five years with growth-in numbers and more widespread use in large commercial populations.

It is the intention of the MSA team to consumer test selected cuts from these carcases in conjunction with the Wagyu Association’s genetic database and the carcase assessment camera, to determine the effect of Wagyu content.

The use of the camera has also helped in terms of developing the

“The benefit of a research trial of this type is that the animals can be anything from F1s through to purebreds with known Wagyu content, which means we can rule out the environmental and feed impacts as

additional information to use to work on and build your story around

model. As the population of Wagyu increases, it is becoming strategically important to incorporate it into MSA as a priority. “For brand owners, knowing the star rating of your carcase gives you elements such as flavour or provenance, with additional confidence in the MSA eating quality score.”

MSA MODELLING FOR WAGYU EXAMPLES The MSA model for Wagyu based on cut and cooking style with no ageing shows that topside does not perform well even with high marbling. Ageing for 35 days however, brings topside into a star rating of 3. ISSUE 71 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE




30 YEARS OF WAGYU HISTORY Cast your mind back to 1976 – a mere seven years after the moon landing and the year of the first Concorde flight and Apple Inc is conceived. The Whitlam Government had not long been ousted and Sir Joh and Neville Wran were a powerhouse in their respective states. Social media wasn’t a thing.



IN THE BEGINNING WAS AN UGLY COW... Cattle production was at an all-time high in Australia peaking at 33.4 million head in 1976, 33% of beef production was exported. A global economic downturn saw a massive turn-off in stock numbers, sending the Australian beef price tumbling to 267c/kg cwt in 1975. Many in the industry recognised that existing cattle breeding techniques needed to change and began the search for improvements in the Australian herds for both breeding and meat quality. In the US, similar curiosity was underway. Extensive research by Texas A&M University under the guidance of Dr David Lundt and Dr Steve Smith investigated the properties of Wagyu cattle based on four fullblood bulls imported in 1976 by Morris Whitney. Dr Smith found that Wagyu fat did have higher monounsaturated fats and marbling than other breeds. The research findings are still often referenced today. These four bulls – two black, Mazda and Mt Fuji and two red, Judo and Reushaw formed the original crossbred Wagyu herds – ‘American Wagyu’ - in the US and Canada, developed by Don Lively and Fred Hildebrand. The story goes that the paperwork described them as Friesians. A few entrepreneurial souls in Australia cast their eye around the world searching for better quality beef cattle. For those who regularly travelled to Japan, the answer became relatively simple – Wagyu. It simply had no rivals for eating quality. The greatest hurdle on securing Wagyu genetics direct from Japan was trade barriers.





THE ARRIVAL OF FULLBLOODS New Era Genetics in 1993 were the first to bring fullbloods to the US – two bulls and three females, The post-war US government had a significant influence with Japan for reciprocal trade which meant that it was possible to export genetics and live cattle to the US where it was not possible to Australia. Australia’s trade with Japan was mostly around crossbred live cattle to Japan’s feedlot system. The first to capitalise on the back door to Japan’s Wagyu genetics was Peter Winkler, Nick Sher, Wally Rae and the Hammonds. Peter brought in the first live animal - a heifer, Kobeef Kinu in January 1990. Bringing in the first embryos in 1990-1991 – live

Australia by Wally Rae. The gates were now officially open, with 1994-95 seeing a further 33 head and genetics leaving Japan for Australia via the US and Canada through Mannet and JVP. The year 1994 heralds the arrival of Mr Shogo Takeda exporting five black fullblood bulls, 35 females, some of which were pregnant - eight female calves were born and became part of the US herd. Three bulls were also born and brought to Australia by Thomsons as well as many embryos from the US. A

A key figure in those early years was David Blackmore.

second shipment in 1995 brought a further six bulls

A genetics agent for the cattle industry, David had the

and 45 females.

procedures in place to import Wagyu genetics through

Commercial scale shipments of live fullbloods made

the business relations he had with the US.

their way to Australia throughout 1996-97. The

of which was Wally Rae; the mastermind behind the


from crossing these five animals were imported into

establishment of fledgling F1 herds in Australia.

US, as a consortium between a few investors – one

Five cattle were particularly important in the early days, the bulls Michifuku and Haruki 2 (pictured top right) and the three heifers Rikitani, Okutani, and Suzutani.

Suzutani, Rikitani and Okutani. The first 20 embryos

cattle was too cost prohibitive for most – enabled the

New Era Genetics were the first to import into the


whose names are well known: Michifuku, Haruki 2,

operation was Ray Wright, a professor at Washington State University. Embryos were imported soon after for Nick Sher, the Hammonds, Simon Coates, amongst others, with companies such as Japanese Venture Partners (JVP) and Mannet Company (now World Ks) as the agent on the Japan end. Heartbrand handled Red Wagyu.


Thomson family in 1997 enabled the establishment of a Takeda-genetics farm in Australia. They also imported embryos from JVP and Mannet with David Blackmore as the agent with live fullbloods arriving in Australia in 1996/97. By this stage, the Westholme herd, unknown to most in Japan and Australia, was quietly taking shape, with 84 females (some pregnant), three bulls and semen from three others waiting on politics to be resolved for export to the US. Around 40 calves were subsequently brought to Australia, mostly females in 1998.


REPORT LEFT to RIGHT Haruki 2 and Michifuke's nose print on their registration certificates.

SHUTDOWN – A NATIONAL TREASURE AND JAPAN’S BSE In all, an estimated 221 Wagyu – of which 22 were Red – were exported from Japan between 1976 and 1997. Never particularly happy about the situation, the Japanese government placed significant pressure on Japanese Wagyu cattle farmers to prevent export of animals and genetics, giving the outside world only a small portion of the possible genetic pool. To add further to the trials and tribulations BSE (mad cow disease) in Japan was a show-stopper for the Australian beef industry, decimating the Japanese market in 2001. The Japanese market collapsed overnight and beef imports from Australia dropped drastically. For those who had established Wagyu beef contracts, the Japan BSE discovery was catastrophic, with most suddenly finding themselves looking for other markets – and fast. The next obvious choice was Korea given it had similar carcase cut requirements, but was not without its challenges. Other Asian markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong became good markets for many in the beef trade. Export of beef from Australia to Japan slowly rebounded in the following years. In 2018, Japan was granted an opportunity to export Wagyu beef to Australia for the first time in 17 years since the outbreak of BSE. Like any agribusiness, Wagyu has been through good times and bad, drought, fires and floods, the GFC, over supply and more, but with time has slowly evolved into a well-respected market locally and overseas, with awards for Australian Wagyu presented from all over the world.

THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU BEEF ASSOCIATION February 1, 1989, the day the Association was formalised as the Australian Wagyu Beef Association with its first president, Mr Peter Winkler, and a total of seven members. The first few meetings were held at Peter’s farm at Bundanoon near Bowral before making a permanent base in Armidale to align with ABRI at University of New England. Heather Carmichael, the secretary for the Association was invaluable for her work at recruiting new members. By 1997, the member directory shows a listing of some 180 members, classed as Stud or Commercial. The Association changed its name to the Australian Wagyu Association in 2000 and at the last count had more than 700 members, who produced more than 30,000 tonnes of beef annually. In recent years, the Association has grown significantly, with the introduction of SNP DNA testing, genomics and Single-Step BREEDPLAN, refinement of EBVs and profitability selection indexes.

... One day we were doing commercial livestock, the next Wagyu. Que Hornery


Heather Carmichael

President 1989 – 1994


Simon Coates

Heather Carmichael

President 1994 – 1997


Keith Hammond

Carol Watson

President 1997 – 1999


Bob Talbot

Carol Watson

President 1999 – 2002


Peter Bishop

Benita Davis

President 2002 – 2005

Executive Officer / Secretary

Tony Fitzgerald

Michael Beattie

President 2005 – 2007

Executive Officer / Secretary

Rick Hunter

Michael Beattie

President 2007- 2010

Executive Officer / Secretary

Joe Grose

Steve Bennett

President 2010 - 2011

Executive Officer / Secretary

Scott Hughes

Graham Truscott

President 2011 – 2013

CEO / Secretary

Scott de Bruin

Graham Truscott

President 2013 – 2015

CEO / Secretary

Peter Gilmour

Dr Matthew McDonagh

President 2015 - 2018

CEO / Secretary

Chantal Winter

Dr Matthew McDonagh

President 2018 -

CEO / Secretary






John Chambers, David Blackmore and Simon Coates David Warmoll, Keith Hammond, Japan meatworks

A WORD FROM PETER WINKLER, FIRST PRESIDENT What many may not know is that Peter Winkler, an ear surgeon in

“She Kinu was an amazing cow – I got very lucky – I took her to the

Sydney was actually a successful stud breeder and council member

Sydney Royal Show – the first ever Wagyu to be presented! I brought

of Simmental prior to moving into Wagyu. Peter was interested in

in many more cows, and a few bulls, the best was definitely Sencho,

producing quality beef that would rival the world-renowned Kobe

plus semen from Michifuku, he was an amazing bull.”

beef, leading to extensive research into Wagyu. Many believed at

For Peter, the purebred market was booming here in Australia and

the time that the magic of Wagyu was based on diet – Herefords on a Wagyu diet proved them wrong, producing enormously thick subcutaneous fat with no marbling. Peter understood quickly that genetics were the primary driver and set about establishing Wagyu in Australia. Like many others, Peter came back from Japan in the mid-80s empty handed but for one pearl of knowledge – the four bulls that Morris Whitney had taken to the US. The US herd, now under the ownership of Don Lively and Fred Hildebrand took Peter to the US. Again, Peter headed home empty-handed as Lively wouldn’t sell. A chance meeting in the departure lounge in Texas with a cattle agent gave Peter access to another herd. “I never really knew who those cattle belonged to – the story was vague and often changed,” said Peter. “All that really mattered was that the pedigree paperwork was genuine – I had them DNA tested to verify it. That herd of 20-30 were high grade crossbreeds, as much as fourth and fifth generation. However, they were in a blue-tongue region, which meant I couldn’t get them to Australia.”

New Zealand, with one of Kobeef International’s yearling heifers selling for a massive $NZ140,000, attracting the attention of overseas Wagyu breeders to take note of the Australian Wagyu industry. Promotion of Wagyu beef (and purebred) in Cables Restaurant, Sydney in 1992, ignited the imagination of many in the hospitality and food industry. The development of fullblood Wagyu in Australia however, was the beginning of the end for Kobeef International. With a lot of promotion that fullblood was the only way forward for Wagyu in Australia, the value of Peter’s herd was seriously de-valued. “I had to make the tough decision to either spend more capital bringing in fullblood genetics or to liquidate. By then I had already spent a great deal bringing in live cattle and embryos, so it was with a heavy heart that the herd went to the butcher. It has since been shown that purebreds are capable of producing high quality meat with exceptional marbling, but at the time it was hard to fight off the fullbloods.” By 2002, Peter had sold his entire herd and the farm and moved away

To get Kinu to Australia became a complicated and expensive

from Wagyu completely.

process. Firstly, Peter selected a cow in calf, shipped her to a

To develop a breed society in the late 1980s required a minimum

quarantine facility in North Dakota where Kinu was born –

of two people – Peter Winkler and his mate and Elders agent,

in quarantine. When Kinu was old enough to travel, she was

John Horne as vice president were the inaugural members. The

airfreighted to Melbourne toward the end of 1988 for quarantine,

Association was set up in anticipation of Kinu’s arrival and the dream

arriving at Peter’s farm, Bundanoon in January 1990.

of developing a Wagyu breed society in Australia.






Throughout the research for this article, there have been significant people who are worth mentioning for their contribution to the Australian Wagyu history. Geoff Willet and Alan Hoey who were part of Maydan Feedlot worked with the early pioneers to crack the feed ration nut in conjunction with John Doyle.

Keith Hammond, Mark Feist, Don Lively

Success Pastoral Company’s Peter Knauer is another who understood those early ‘pioneering cattlemen’, working tirelessly to facilitate the first early live cattle shipments of F1 steers to Japan’s feedlots that enabled many to get financially off the ground. Dr Jerry Reves from Washington State University was an active figure globally from early 2000’s and generated much of the interest in the unique fatty acid profiles of Wagyu Beef. Jerry has stayed active to this day, contributing greatly to the generation of purebred polled Wagyu. A quiet but notable contributor to the development of Australian Wagyu brands was Gerry Harvey, whose Security Foods company commenced in 2001, focusing on both fullblood and dairy beef crosses with Wagyu.

Peter and Kobeef Kinu at 1994 Rockhamptom Bull Show

Those early days were a hard slog to get going and to encourage registration, performance recording and all the other elements that are needed in a breed society. I thank those that made tremendous contributions in those very early days such as Nick and Vicki Sher, Keith Hammond and Simon Coates. It was also a lot of fun. Peter Winkler

Greg Gibbons, Peter Cabassi and Dougal Cameron at Aronui were instrumental for Westholme and AACo. As Aronui manager, Greg was influential in the 2005-2006 AACo purchase of the Westholme herd, which is the point that fullblood Wagyu became a serious breed in the Australian cattle industry. It was during this period, that Pete proposed the first fullblood Wagyu grid and Greg implemented this for AACo for fullblood feeder steers; marking the starting point of a broader fullblood Wagyu beef industry in Australia. Whyalla Holdings and Tasmanian Feedlot were also notable enterprises in those early days. Down south, without Rockdale Abattoir, owned by Itoham, Ralph’s Meats and G&K O’Connors it would have been a struggle to process Wagyu. The stories listed here of key individuals is by no means all – add into the list Barbara Benjamin, of Goshu Wagyu, who had, in her time bred high percentage pure Tajima-line Wagyu. Kuro Kin in the Hunter Valley and Ron Fitzgerald at Salisbury Wagyu were all heavily involved in the early days. Paddy Handbury, John Piccoli and the Hendersons’ are names that have come up in many a conversation. There is also no denying that the early days of Australian Wagyu was seen by investors as a good prospect such as the Coles Myer ownership of Charlton feedlot through Sandhurst. Ag-Reserves who owned more than 2,000 crossbred breeding females in the early 2000s were also members of the Association. I would like to extend to everyone a heartfelt thankyou for your time, patience and searching of your records to enable this history to be set down.







Nick and Vicki Sher have been in the Wagyu industry since the early days. Nick, with a background in Ag Science, was aware of Wagyu in the 1980s, when reading about the Japanese meat industry. It wasn’t until he heard about Peter Winkler’s involvement with the US American Wagyu, that he was able to act on it. Buying the first flush of five embryos from Peter’s heifer Kobeef Kinu set Sher Wagyu on their way.

Peter Hughes, Wally Rae, Kaneyama (Mannet), Jane Hughes, Susan Rae, Ray (Buck) Wright (New Era Genetics). Sitting in the front is Fred Hughers, Interpreter and Sam Hughes.

From those five embryos, three calves were born, February 11th, 1992, the first purebreds to be born on Australian soil. Of those three calves, one bull was retained, while one bull went to Percy Hornery and the heifer to John Piccoli. With the arrival of Michifuku and Haruki 2 in the US, the Sher’s invested in heifers in the US to import embryos and semen. breeding locally with the embryos and participating in the F1 Angus steer trade to Japan. The first Sher live cattle trade was airfreight in 1993 – the first Wagyu cross cattle sent to Japan. A visit to Japan to meet with customers resulted in a transition to crossbreeds with Holsteins to meet customer demand, pioneering this Wagyu cross in Australia. Nick’s first fullblood investment was embryos from the Mannet group, then a share with a North Dakota breeder in Kikushige 406e in 1996. The Sher philosophy has always been to source the right genetics to complement the traits that are present in their herd, rather than aligning with any specific supplier of genetics. The crash that followed the Japanese BSE outbreak meant creating other markets – Korea was the obvious choice. Further market development into Singapore, Hong Kong, Middle East, the US and Australia meant less reliance on the Japanese market. Those first shipments of beef to Japan were based on quarter carcases. From 2001 onward, it has been as branded boxed beef.

Sher Wagyu - first fullblood investment Kikushige 406e

“One of our major early hurdles was developing the right feed ration to get the results we wanted,” said Nick. “Our visits to Japan were great inasmuch as gaining information about genetics, but each operation had a different ration formula and were extremely reluctant to share it with anyone. It took us many years to get it right, and remains a work in progress.” After small steps in the early days developing a fledgling herd, Sher Wagyu now run a fully integrated branded beef business with 500 fullblood breeders, 1,500 crossbreds, plus 7,000 on feed and a further 6,000 that are backgrounding. A strong domestic customer base is complemented by exports to 14 countries. 26


First purebred calves born on Australian soil. Born 11 Feb 1992.



WALLY OF THE OVERFLOW A shade short of 14, Wally Rae left school to set out in the cattle industry, mostly in Brahman in central Queensland, eventually working in a couple of successful partnerships to get himself established. By the age of 20, Wally had a lucky break – the Queensland Lands department were auctioning The Overflow settling at a price of $5 per acre. With just enough for the deposit, Wally was set up to start a serious cattle business. A holiday to Japan in 1988, where Wally quickly got bored, led to a trip to the meat auctions. Witnessing the astonishing quality, marbling and market values opened his eyes to the possibility of Wagyu in Australia. “The meat auctions were paid on a measure I had never heard of in Australia – marbling. In Australia, meat traders weren’t even aware that marbling was significant to meat quality,” said Wally. “Many thought I was on a wild goose chase to get Wagyu, but from what I knew of the Japan meat auctions I knew there was a market. A friend of mine said I had a 500:1 to chance of making this work – and many doubted me in the beginning – but I told him, that I had information that those 500 people may not have, that makes the decision worth the risk,” said Wally. Learning of the impending arrival of Peter Winkler’s Kinu into Australia gave Wally the contacts he needed in the US to start the process of bringing genetics to Australia. Introductions with Don Lively, ay Wright and others, led to the formation of New Era Genetics and the relationship with Kaneyama at Mannet. The brains behind the outfit of New Era Genetics, Ray Wright, a professor at Washington State University, provided the know-how on getting the genetics to the US. Using genetics brokered by David Blackmore in 1991, Wally started the process of artificial insemination on nearly 3,000 cows. Wally gained six calves – five of which turned out to be bulls, two of which were Kaneyama and Katsumi and was well underway. Further genetics from many other Australian, Japanese and American breeders gave Wally a substantial

herd across three properties in Queensland and New South Wales by 1998 going from 1,500 head to 15,000 cattle. “When I process my cattle, I can see what quality I have and therefore what I can get for it – I sell it for what it is worth – no more, no less. It is my reputation at stake, not the name of the bull and I want to make sure there is a market for my beef rather than producing it without a customer. I know which bull works, which one’s feed well and I keep track of all of it through my own comprehensive data system. I like to keep my cards to my chest.” Wally also participated in the live steer trade to Japan and was one of the first to do so. One shipment, the ill-fated vessel New Guernsey was hit by a cyclone and sunk, with some of Wally’s cattle onboard bought by Success Pastoral Company (around 2001) and lost at sea. The first of Wally’s carton beef took place to Japan in the mid-1990s. Wally has been a great influence on his neighbours – with Peter Hughes, Bo Hatfield, Percy Hornery and Darren Hamblin coming around to Wagyu, realising the potential of the market and its environmental adaptability.

Wagyu in Japan are pampered, they never have to work for their food or survive the elements. It was amazing to see these animals actually thriving in the Queensland outback – in some cases performing better than some of the Brahman I had.

ROBBINS ISLAND – WAGYU BY THE SEA Robbins Island Wagyu is iconic in its own right with imagery of the tidal muster on horseback, but it has taken the Hammond family many years to get there. The Hammond family history is an interesting one – the maternal forebears, the Holyman’s - were pioneers in Tasmania in their own right, with Victor Holyman starting the first aviation company, Australian National Airlines, later to be bought by Ansett Airlines. Part of that pioneering heritage included cattle land holdings – Robbins Island and Walker Island on the northwest cape of Tasmania. Well suited to cattle grazing, the islands were utilised for dairy cattle until

the early 1960s before transitioning to beef cattle. In 1991, the Hammond boys, Keith, John and Chauncey, looked to gain more profitability from their cattle enterprise, and focused their attention on Wagyu genetics, which had long term potential in the domestic market and further abroad into Asia. Genetics were purchased from Don Lively in 1991, with the view to participating in the F1 live cattle trade into Japan. Using the bloodlines of Michifuku and Haruki 2, the Hammonds purchased 200 embryos to kick start the Wagyu beef production. Further fullblood genetics were brought in with the purchase of a herd from the Hunter Valley.

On a number of occasions, the Hammonds would see a polled calf come through, and rather than breed it out, they have opted to promote the polled gene as a point of difference, particularly for improved animal welfare. A researcher in Washington State also had a polled bull, whose genetics have been utilised to out-cross the Hammond herd to further the polled gene. Recognising the potential of polled Wagyu, Mayura Station and Strathdale Wagyu established a partnership with Hammonds in 2014 to promote the genotype. Keith has been a Board member for 10 years, and president from 1997 to 1999, while John was a Board member in later years. ISSUE 71 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE



REPORT SUMO CATTLE COMPANY Two young blokes, recently graduated as veterinarians, knew Australian beef needed a bit of improvement and set out, after extensive research to bring Wagyu genetics to the equation. Using 250 purebred embryos from the herd developed by Texas A&M, Sumo Cattle Company partners, Simon Coates and John Chambers were in business by 1991.

Herefords on a Wagyu diet proved it was genetics

Initially, the company utilised the embryos to develop a F1 trade of live cattle back to Japan, crossed with Angus, which at the time became a thriving part of the Australian cattle industry. The focus for Simon and John was always genetics – to be the best seedstock source for Wagyu in Australia.

Peter Winkler

The importation of 50 heifers and six bulls through Takeda Farms enabled Simon and John to fully upgrade their operation to

FROM AGENT TO BEEF For a young bloke from South Australia working principally with dairy cattle as a stock agent, David Blackmore has undoubtedly made a mark in the Australian Wagyu industry. Blackmore first became aware of the Don Lively and Fred Hildebrand herds in 1988 on a trip to the US on a dairy genetics mission. He recalls saying to Don that he didn’t know how he could promote such ugly looking cattle, who responded: ‘they look like money to me, son’. “As an agent for Don, I first started importing bulls – the first was Lo Do Sir Lee – which went to the Charlton feedlot, then owned by Coles Myer, the second bull was Lo Do Kuro Kin.

The first embryos from Don were around 1991, to Sumo Cattle Co and Hammonds – the Sumo embryos were born on our Serpentine farm. I had the agency for the Mannet Group (now World Ks), Japan Venture Partners and Heartbrand (red Wagyu), in 1992 I had the agency between Takeda Farms and Thomsons, which continued until 2006. Blackmore Wagyu started its own enterprise in 1993 with F1 cattle but soon realised that increasing marble score could be readily achieved with grading up to a fullblood beef production. Using the bloodlines of Kikutsuru, Tanifukudoi, Dai 2 Yasutanidoi and Okudoi Blackmore developed a brand of Wagyu beef that is well respected. 28



FROM AUSKOBE TO JACK’S CREEK The brand, Jack’s Creek is probably more recognisable now as a result of the World Steak Challenge wins in the past four years, a testament to the faith David and Phillip Warmoll had in Wagyu beef. At a time when no one had heard of Wagyu and no markets, David, like his contemporaries faced a huge task to establish their brand and market. David credits his rudimentary knowledge of Wagyu from delivering grain to Angus and Jersey feedlots and learning that Wagyu was better at marbling than Jersey. It wasn’t until a chance visit to a doctor’s surgery and reading an old edition of Time magazine that featured Wagyu research at Texas A&M that really prompted the brothers to give it a go. “It felt right, we knew it was time to give it a go,” said David. “I went to see Greg Chappell at AMLC to see if he could put me in touch with someone involved in the US – don’t bother he says, go see Wally Rae.”


REPORT Australia, we spent a lot of time promoting around the country doing field days in conjunction with Elders.

Takeda genetics. The company has extended its exports to South Africa, New Zealand, USA and more recently, Europe.

The bloodlines favoured by Sumo were: Kinto, Aizakura, Chiyotake, Itohana (two bulls), Dai 2 Kinntou, Terutani (two bulls), Kikuhana (heifers and two bulls), Hikohime, Hikokura, Hikokura, Kensei

“Many thought Wagyu was no better than ostrich farming and dismissed us. With every field day we would take 200 Wagyu steaks and cook them up at the end of the presentation – the naysayers quickly changed their mind about their perceptions of Wagyu beef – the eating quality speaks for itself.”

“The Australian Wagyu industry has come a long way in 30 years and still has great potential. Without those early pioneers, the industry may not have got a foothold in Australia. The following years saw the next wave put their hands in their pockets, which took guts, but has served the industry well.”

“The key thing in those days was to go to Japan and network with the right people,” says Simon. “To get things moving here in

Today from those 250 embryo beginnings, Sumo Cattle Co flushes as many as 4,000 embryos per year, based on the original

Simon joined the Association Board in 1992, and was elected as the second president between 1994-1997.

fullblood and purebred genetics. As vets the pair were able to utilise their skills to conduct embryo transfer for clients and established three sites – Euroa, Griffith and Roma to service the burgeoning Wagyu industry.

Bar H steer

David Warmoll with first 'skybix' shipment to Japan

In 1991, David purchased semen from Wally based on the American Wagyu genetics – the four bulls brought in by Morris Whitney. The arrival of Michifuku and Haruki 2 was, by David’s admission, a godsend to broaden the genetic base. Using Angus, David got in touch with Peter Knauer at Success Pastoral Company to send a live export shipment to Japan’s feedlots as did Wally Rae, Sher’s and Hammonds

known as skyboxes. A year later, it was carton

marbling became finer with better eye muscle

boxed beef – without a brand. The company’s

area and shape. David recognised early on that

first brands were introduced in 1999. The first,

the European market had greater potential – as

By 1995, David had started lotfeeding at Maydan heifers and the steers that didn’t qualify for live export.

up new markets.

a frog.

The early feeding regime involved an Angus

“If it hadn’t been for Peter Winkler, Wally,

Carcases were sent in 1996 in a gradual move away from live trade – 1/4s wrapped in netting, doused in dry ice in a box and airfreighted –

300-400 days. The result was coarse marbling

with me and Peter Cobb who was our meat

and high levels of seam fat. With time, changes

marketing guy, Geoff Willet and Alan Hoey,

to feed regimes and better genetics, the

we may not have made it.”

Australian Certified Wagyu Beef (ACWB) was dropped fairly quickly, while Auskobe appealed to the European market who had at least heard of Kobe beef. A few years later, the brand Jack’s Creek, was used across all products. In some instances, David initiated trade protocols to export companies to open

fed ration based on 120 days, extended out to

much because the quality of Wagyu available in Japan was far superior compared to his own. “No one knew what they were doing in those days; we didn’t have a market and no one had heard of Wagyu. Some described the cattle has having withers like a horse and hind legs like

Peter Knauer, my brother for keeping faith





Mayura original heifers TF 268, TF 165 and TF 233



Neighbours chat, plan and dream. Such was the case with Percy

The de Bruin family weren’t always cattlemen. Adrian de Bruin

Hornery of Bar H Grazing and Wally Rae. Wally’s holiday to

started out in forestry, establishing Auspine, one of South

Japan in 1988 was a turning point for Percy as much as it was for

Australia’s largest businesses. Established on the original Mayura

Wally. Tales of a $48,000 carcase in the Japanese meat market

Station property in the state’s south east, business trips to Japan

certainly gets you thinking.

gave Adrian an insight into just how special Wagyu could be.

Through David Blackmore, Percy bought Michifuku and Haruki

“Dad was incredibly impressed with how delicious Wagyu was on

2 semen in 1991 at $200 a straw. Performing AI across as many as

his trips to Japan,” says Scott de Bruin. “The eating quality was

possible of their Brahman-cross breeder herds gave them around

such a massive contrast to what was available in Australia.

500 Wagyu cross breeds. With the arrival of the second shipment

Initially the de Bruins started in 1995 with F1s with purebred

of Takeda bulls around 1996, Percy took on 22 fullblood PTIC receipt cows, again through Blackmore. Their first fullblood bulls were bred in 1998.

Wagyu bulls across Angus and Murray Greys – for no other reason than those breeds were already on the property. With the arrival of the first fullblood heifers into Australia, the company

“I was a kid at school when Dad started looking at Wagyu,” said

looked to build the herd through extensive embryo transfer

Que Hornery. “One day we were doing commercial livestock in

using semen from JVP, Mannet and Takeda Farms. In five years,

bos indicus, the next Wagyu. It was to be the bible we read.

the original herd of 25 breeding females had increased tenfold.

“We started with the F1 steers and weaners into the live trade to

The original concept of the Wagyu enterprise was to breed bulls

Japan, but had to stop when blue tongue arrived in our region.

for others to use for F1 production, but Scott’s love of food and

Others went to Dougal Cameron at Aronui. Without the help

interest to pursue beef, saw the company change focus and a shift

of those early lotfeeder pioneers like Geoff Willet, it would have

to fullblood beef production.

been a bigger struggle.”

The hospitality industry in South Australia became interested

Like the others, Japan’s BSE hit the Hornery’s for six. With more

in Wagyu beef in 2000 with support from chef Cheung Liew;

than 300 steers in the feedlot waiting to be shipped, Percy hoped

further inquiries from Raffels, Singapore secured international

he could ride out the ban. 100 days, then 200 days – at 600 days,

markets for the Mayura Station brands.

the animals were simply too big and were sold at a substantial loss.

The original breeding of the Mayura herd were based on 25

It became a turning point for the family – do they go back to

females from Takeda Farms, based on the Kinto, Aizakura,

focusing on the domestic market or go into boxed meat?

Chiyotake, Dai 2 Kinn, Dai 2 Kinntou, Hikohime, Hikokura,

Having a go at boxed meat had its own hurdles – getting the

Itochiyo and Tetufuku bloodlines.

chiller temperature right to make it easier to process; insisting

In 2005, Mayura sought to improve the bloodline of Shigekenami

that the transport drivers unload before they had a smoko break;

utilising the full sister to Teratani 40/1 to breed Itoshigenami

the realisation that Australia’s grading system was not on a par

Jnr. Well known for his marbling and eye muscle genetic traits,

with overseas or simply getting people to try Wagyu.

he is regarded as a once-in-a-lifetime bull that has exceeded

Que’s brother Derran, learned as much as he could about


marketing and took forays into hospitality trying to teach chefs

In more recent times, Mayura Station has joined partnership

how to cut and cook Wagyu, but in the end the family decided

with the Hammonds and Darren Hamblin (Strathdale) to focus

they were better cattleman than salesman.

on polled Wagyu.

Now running a sustainable herd of around 3,000 cattle, Bar H is

Scott has been on the Board for many years and served as

now focusing on quality rather quantity, where marbling is not the

President between 2013 and 2015, overseeing the introduction

only goal – performance traits play an equally vital role to ensure

of the Collaborative Genetic Research Project and championing

the prosperity of Wagyu in central Queensland’s environment.

Truth in Labelling.





SHOGO TAKEDA AND TAKEDA WAGYU AUSTRALIA Some would consider Shogo Takeda the father of Australian Wagyu – whatever the opinion, there is no doubt that without Mr Takeda, the Australian and international Wagyu industry would never have taken off to the level that it has.

Mr Shogo Takeda discusses Wagyu bloodlines with David Blackmore

A long time ago, Japan imported Jersey cattle from Australia. Thanks to this, the Japanese can now enjoy drinking tasty milk and eating tasty yoghurt. After I exported my Wagyu cattle to the US in the early 1990s, hoping that people in the world would enjoy eating Wagyu beef, the first people who purchased my genetics were Australians. Since then, Australia has been the centre of Wagyu production in the world outside of Japan. I deeply appreciate the Australian Wagyu breeders for their contribution to spread Wagyu genetics to the rest of world. I wish the Australian Wagyu Association and their members further development and prosperity in the future. Shogo Takeda

Now in his 90s, Mr Takeda has been breeding Wagyu in Hokkaido, Japan for decades focusing on carcase quality, early maturity, growth performance and other traits such as fertility and milking ability. His breeding program allowed him to reach a carcase quality of A5 (the highest possible in Japan), utilising Itomichi (Itomichi 1 /2 is the son of that Sire) across premium Dams who are line bred to Itomichi (Kinto, Sakae 2, Aino, Aihime and Dai Roku Tomiyoshi). Believing that the world would benefit from Wagyu genetics, he made the decision to export 35 females and five males to the US in 1995. Many of those females were in calf and some of the semen was eligible for export, enabling Australian interests, through Blackmore’s agency to take advantage of Takeda’s genetics. A second shipment, in 1996 brought a further 45 females and six males to the US. The herd was later sold to Gary Yamamoto in the US. However, Takeda’s actions were greeted with hostility by his peers and he was consequently expelled from the Japanese Wagyu Association in 1997. He has not been re-instated and his animals cannot be registered in Japan. In 1994 Stan and David Thomson established a fullblood operation. On signing the initial contract brokered by David Blackmore, Mr Takeda asked what the name of the stud was, replying that as it was a new enterprise, there wasn’t one, Mr Takeda was happy for the Thomsons to use his name as the name of the stud. The Thomsons were the first to import Takeda genetics to Australia, some 750 embryos. The three bulls imported in 1997– Itomichi 42, Yukiharunami 4 and Mitsuhikokura 43, - born in the US and imported live into Australia - are well known in Australian Wagyu circles. The final herd count was near 400 fullbloods. Running other business interests at the time presented challenges, and with Stan wishing to retire, the Thomson’s reluctantly held reduction sales of the Wagyu herd between 1998 and 2000. The first of these sales held in Wodonga set record prices with the top price of $26,000 for a fullblood heifer sired by Kikuhana and Hikohime 3/4 – bought by the Cabassi’s. The top bull went to Kilcoolin Pastoral Company while other animals found new homes in South Australia and Western Australia. The complete herd was sold privately to Sumo Cattle Co in early 2001. ISSUE 71 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE




... The arrival of Michifuku and Haruki 2 was a godsend David Warmoll

THE LONGFORD STORY IN SHORT The Longford bulls frequently sit in the top 10% of the Association’s registered genetics and with good reason. Based south west of the NSW New England Tablelands, Arthur Dew has been in the industry since 1995. However, Arthur had attempted to gain interest in Wagyu genetics much earlier, but as others found, it was a hard sell. With the arrival of fullblood Sires and genetics, Arthur imported semen during 1994-95, for F1 production across the Angus already on the property. Embryos quickly followed in 1995 – although conception rates were poor at 55% with the first batch. A second batch saw an improvement. The arrival into the US of Michifuku, Haruki 2 and the three notable heifers enabled Arthur to gain three heifers from a cross with Michifuku and Suzutani and Rikitani. Crosses with Takeda and Westholme Sires developed the fullblood herd. “My focus on the beginning was on genetics, understanding Japanese data and extrapolating it,” said Arthur. “For example, a female progeny of Suzutani, with another Tajima line and the Westholme 003.” (Dew was an Associate with Chris Walker) “Our Japanese live export customers said our carcase size was too small, so I decided a further cross with 147 may work. We were able to achieve a 450kg cwt with good marbling.” The Japan BSE event hit Longford as much as anyone else – with half a consignment already sold – the other half still in long feed requiring the company to hold for another year. It was at this point Arthur opted to move out of live cattle and beef as the primary objective. Based in Hong Kong for much of his time, focusing on bulls was easier to manage for both him and his staff. Longford Station now has 2,500 breeding females with bloodlines tracing back through the Westholme and Takeda herds and Wally Rae. 32


THE WESTHOLME STORY By far the biggest export of Wagyu genetics out of Japan was that undertaken by Chris Walker to establish the Westholme herd. As with many in the early days, living, working or visiting Japan, Chris was based in Japan for work and tasted Wagyu regularly and was determined to bring it to Australia. As so many discovered, getting the genetics out of Japan was not straightforward, and Chris, with his Japanese agent at ET Japan Company Ltd, faced many stumbling blocks, resulting in the need to build their own quarantine station in Japan. After three years of investment and negotiation, the shipment was achieved in 1998 – 99. In total, 84 females three bulls and semen from three others arrived in the US. Subsequently from herds based in Iowa and Texas, 20,000 embryos were produced and brought to Australia for implantation at the Westholme farm at Tarana, NSW, similarly the semen. With the aim to establish an iconic herd of genetics in Australia, Chris rarely sold any of his animals – with the exception of two bull sales. Those animals that remained in the US were eventually sold into the beef market to dissolve the partnership with ET Japan and to preserve the genetics under the Westholme name. By 2006, Westholme was the second largest fullblood herd outside of Japan with 700-800 breeding cows. It was this year that Chris opted to sell the entire livestock inventory to AACo, who were already receiving Wagyu steers into the Aronui feedlot. “Those early days in Japan, negotiating the shipment with all the roadblocks put before us had Lynne and I walking the streets of Tokyo wondering if it would ever happen,” said Chris. “I didn’t want to get started until I get hold of superior Japanese genetics that were fully registered. Virtually no one knew what we were doing, until it was too late, because we kept it so quiet.” “The bull sales that we conducted created a lot of interest, with an average sale price of just under $10,000 - a real benchmark for those days. Our focus was on calves, getting them to 300kg whereupon they were sent to AACo where they put into feedlot to take to 700kg – it took a long time to figure out the right rations for the feed.” “When we sold to AACo, we had a five year non-compete clause placed on us, so I bought back 10 bulls and 1,000 Angus cows to produce F1s, which once the five years were completed, my son Mathew Walker recommenced with Stone Axe Pastoral.” Original bulls: Hirashigetayasu, Itomoritaka and Kitateruyasudoi Top females: Sekimasuokishida, Sekitorihana 5, Sekiyoshiko3, Sekitorihana 5, Seikyoshiko 3, Sawafuji 6, Sekiokura, Yamaketakfuji 3, Sekikurahime, Yoshifui 8, Seki 5 Dai Moto 2, Umeko A note on Stone Axe Pastoral Chris’ son Mathew Walker founded the Stone Axe Pastoral Company soon after the five year non-compete clause imposed by AACo on Westholme was complete. The company’s focus is on fullblood beef production with a fully vertical integrated business model. In 2016 it was majority purchased by Sydney based private equity managers Roc Partners, with Mathew remaining a shareholder and director of the company.



Yasuhuku Jr

Westholme 003 Kitateruyasu-Doi

HUGHES PASTORAL Cattle ticks were an ongoing problem for the Tierawoomba Herefords, needing to dip at times inside six weeks or risk losing the cattle. Wally Rae, a close friend to Peter Hughes, and fellow campdrafter in the 1980s was a strong influence and introduced Peter and Jane to Wagyu. The pair believed that anything that tasted like that could not fail and hence began their Wagyu journey. “We purchased some first cross Angus and some Murray Grey Wagyu Cross bulls from Wally in 1992,” said Peter. “From 1992 on we kept buying upgraded bulls until eventually we got to purebred bulls. For the next decade we moved along very carefully not expecting a lot or spending any more on genetics or production than we normally would. We really put them to the test and were surprised by their resilience.” Since 2000 Hughes Pastoral has only used purebred and fullblood bulls over the upgraded herd of females. All of the cattle, in the end, have been bred up from approximately 3 /4 Bos Indicus females. Experience to date suggests that the herd continues to be resilient as the breeding program moves closer to a purebred line, however there has been no deliberate move to follow the Tajima line. In reflecting on those in the industry Peter commented that there has been a number of very astute Wagyu producers that have put a lot of effort into breeding

quality animals, including those that are focusing on


polled cattle.

Nick Sher and John Hammond at Tokyo Meat Market.

“These people are doing a great service for the breed and as long as we can retain the very good traits, this will go a long way towards its sustainability. It looks as though those good traits have not been compromised at this stage.”

Another significant person in the Australian industry would have to be Mr Takeda. He is a wonderful stockman, so well balanced - he would be a wonderful horseman which goes hand in hand with being a good stockman. “He clearly has a lot of time and affinity for animals. He’s always got half a biscuit in his pocket for someone’s dog. He can just move magically amongst cattle, absolutely no fear.” Today, Hughes Pastoral runs 25,000 Wagyu-cross cattle in central Queensland, selling branded beef under the Nebo Beef brand. ISSUE 71 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE




LEFT Touring Bar H during the 2015 Pride of the Australia Wagyu Outback Tour. ABOVE Percy Hornery and his youngest grandson.

TRACING OUR JAPANESE BLOODLINES AND HISTORY The Japanese Black, the predominant breed of Wagyu, can trace it’s origins back to 3,500 years ago, where genetic diversity were developed in in different prefectures based on regional isolation, giving us the modern strains of Japanese Black. By no means the only Wagyu breed, the Japanese Brown, referred to in Australia as Red Wagyu represents about 4% of the Japanese herd. Add in to that mix, the Japanese polled and Shorthorn which are niche breeds not seen outside Japan. It is believed that the modern Japanese Black were influenced by European breeds such as Brown Swiss, Devon, Shorthorn, Simmental, Ayrshire and Korean cattle when crossing began in 1868 under the Meiji restoration. By 1910, the policy was revoked by the Japanese government. By the end of WWII, the enforced segregation of prefectural herds was largely abandoned. Hyogo Prefecture, the home of ‘Tajima’ cattle, was then the only ‘segregated’ prefectural herd remaining, and this continues today. The modern Japanese emphasis on breeding for beef production commenced as recently as the 1950s, as



mechanisation swept through Japanese agriculture and cattle ceased to be bred for work applications. The effect on Japanese Black prefectural herds to form genetically diverse sub-populations has been identified by international research. Three major Japanese Black prefectural sub-breeds have been identified and have significant influence on international breeding. These are Tajiri or Tajima (from Hyogo Pref), Fujiyoshi (Shimane Pref) and Kedaka (Tottori Pref). The fourth important Itozakura (modern) strain formed around the prolific and dominant sire Dai 7 Itozakura from the 1960s. These strains are also recognised as the key reservoir of genetic diversity in the national Japanese Black herd, where effective population size is challenged. To meet this challenge, structured selection of genetics from different prefectural strains is a formal policy component of Japanese national breed conservation and development. Modern Wagyu beef production in Japan remains highly regulated. A national Japanese industry entity, ZENWA, oversees the breed registries for Japanese Black,

Brown, Polled and Shorthorn. Breed development follows strict guidelines, including independent progeny testing for sire selection and national production data collation, with carcase data dissemination (using within-herd BLUP EBVs) back to the individual herd level. Only the very best proven genetics are kept for breeding and artificial breeding is dominant at over 90% of annual joinings. The export of Wagyu genetics that created the international Wagyu herds occurred during a small window of time, between the mid 1980s through to the 1990s. The level of inbreeding in this group has not been measured, but the AWA continues to monitor subsequent inbreeding and ensuring that breeders understand and manage it within their herds, which can be assisted with the Wagyu Mating Predictor tool when considering prefectural characteristics in the Australian Wagyu population.




REPORT MAJOR WAGYU PREFECTURAL BLOODLINES What we now call the Black Wagyu breed within Australia is a combination of the unique Japanese Black strains derived from the prefectural herds of Japan, which has significant outcomes in noticeable variability in conformation. AWA plan to undertake scientific analysis of prefectural bloodlines in Australia. Segmenting the Australian national herd by prefectural influence should be possible as most of the major foundation sires are still in use and there are many first-generation progeny available for analysis. Significant prefectural diversity remains, with resulting breeding and genetic conservation opportunity. For most Australian production purposes, there are three traditional Japanese Black prefectural bloodlines, and one modern strain. All lines are used for Fullblood meat production.

HYOGO PREFECTURE Descendants of Hyogo breeding form the largest segment of the Australian fullblood herd. Hyogo is the home of Kobe Beef and the sole remaining segregated prefectural herd in Japan. Hyogo cattle are known for superior meat quality but relatively small stature. Carcase weights are significantly lower than the Japanese national average, and average carcase BMS (JMGA marble score) is not significantly higher. The most common and well-known Hyogo sire bloodline in Australia is Tajima, but the Kumanami strain is represented in the sire Itoshigenami, also frequently described as Tajima outside Japan. Hyogo cattle are considered ideal outcross sires in the production of Crossbred Wagyu F1 50% feeder cattle, which explains the numerical dominance of high Hyogo content animals in the Australian herd, a result of original import demand for F1 production sires.


This is the most commoditised strain of Black Wagyu both in Australia and Japan. Some infusion of Hyogo genetics is generally regarded as essential in the efficient production of the best quality Wagyu beef. Due to high levels of inbreeding in the Hyogo sub-genome, care is needed in joining strategies.

ITOZAKURA LINE The second most common grouping in Australia, this is a modern bloodline founded on the famous sire Dai 7 Itozakura, combining Hyogo and Okayama prefectural genetics (in Shimane Prefecture). Many seedstock of Takeda Farm breeding fall within this grouping and the founding sire is prominent in many Australian pedigrees. The line is sometimes misdescribed as Fujiyoshi. The founding sire of the line was the premier Japanese Black sire for superior beef production in Japan over a lengthy period, combining consistent high marbling with strong growth.




REPORT It is believed that the modern Japanese Black were influenced by European breeds such as Brown Swiss, Devon, Shorthorn, Simmental, Ayrshire and Korean cattle.

SHIMANE PREFECTURE Probable third highest local representation, also often described as Fujiyoshi, this lightly represented group consists of medium framed cattle with good maternal qualities, growth rates and meat quality.

Shimane females imported by Sumo Cattle Co

TOTTORI PREFECTURE In terms of national calf registrations, Tottori prefecture genetics have dominated Japanese Wagyu beef production since the 1960s, but the prefecture is only lightly represented in Australia through the Westholme Fullblood herd. The two main sub-strains are Kedaka and Eikou. Tottori produces larger animals featuring straight, strong back lines, good growth rates, superior maternal ability and high yielding, high quality carcasses. In terms of percentage infusion in national sire production tables Tottori remains the most influential strain in Japanese breeding.




JAPANESE BROWN Known as ‘red’ lines (Akaushi), Kochi and Kumamoto in Australia, have been strongly influenced by Korean and European breeds, particularly Simmental.

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DNA testing for genetic defects is keeping two of the Wagyu breed’s leading studs ahead of the game, as they move to enhance the quality of their herds. The known genetic conditions affecting Wagyu cattle include: Spherocystosis (B3) – a form of anaemia resulting in death within the first seven days after birth; Chediak Higashi Syndrome (CHS) which results in a malfunctioning immune system; Claudin 16 Deficiency (CL16) which causes kidney failure; and Factor XI deficiency (F11) which prevents blood from clotting properly. Doorkey and Robbins Island Wagyu acknowledge that the limited gene pool in Australia requires greater attention to genetic defects in order to produce quality animals through genomics. Both studs were early adopters of genomic technologies, with Alex Hammond at Robbins Island Wagyu DNA testing since 1998 and Mr Rogers, principal of Doorkey, purchasing his first DNA test in 2006 through the UQ Animal Genetics Laboratory, which is now operating as Neogen Australasia. Both studs, have identified the use of Neogen Australasia’s genomic testing for genetic defects as a priority for the breed, particularly as an increasing number of commercial breeders move from first-cross production to fullblood herds. The company has been working with Wagyu breeders since 1991 when it began blood typing, while the first Wagyu microsatellite DNA test was conducted on Sumo Secondie I in March 1995. It now has close to 200,000 Wagyu records on file from its current and historical Neogen Australasia databases – an invaluable reference point as it continues to improve its offering of objective genetic selection tools. 38


Mr Hammond credits his business’s long-standing relationship with Neogen Australasia for a range of improvements across his herd over the last 20 years, in particular the ability to test for the ‘soft fat’ marker (SCD test) which he began doing in the early 2000s.

“With the polled breeding we want to be

“The softness of the fat is directly proportional to the saturated/unsaturated fat profile. Softer fat equates to more of the healthy, unsaturated fats and a lower melting point. It gives that melt-in-the-mouth quality and combined with high levels of marbling, helps it eat better for the consumer,” he said. “We’ve had feedback from customers saying that even with the same level of marbling, our beef tastes better and that’s due to the softer fat.”

The ongoing collection of genomic data

Robbins Island runs a self-replacing herd but is increasingly working with other leading breeders to source genetics with a view to creating a top-quality polled Wagyu herd “as good as or better than” traditional Fullblood types.

breeding in Australia, starting in 1993

“One of our original cows in 1996 was purebred polled and her progeny have kept multiplying to the point that we had a group that we were able to breed polled Wagyu from,” Mr Hammond said. “We can tell phenotypically if an animal is polled, but without the DNA test we don’t know if they have two copies of the polled gene, or if they are carrying a recessive horned gene.

ahead of the game and there’s huge benefits from this in terms of animal health. Any check in their growth rate, as happens at dehorning, also inhibits marbling development and we want to avoid this.” through the Neogen GGP 50K test is also contributing to enhanced accuracies of the Wagyu breeds Estimated Breeding Values on BREEDPLAN. In turn, it is hoped that trait specific DNA tests will soon be available to predict marbling, which is what both breeders consider the top measure of success for their breeding programs. Mr Rogers was one of the pioneers of Wagyu putting Wagyu bulls over Angus females to produce F1 carcases, with a view to increasing marbling content. “You can have all the growth and carcase weight you want but if you haven’t got marbling the rest doesn’t matter,” Mr Rogers said. “In the 2000s we were really hopeful that genetic testing would provide some accuracy for identifying marbling - it’s only now that it looks like marbling is falling into place in the genomic and BREEDPLAN modelling.” >> page 40

Both studs, have identified ... genomic testing for genetic defects as a priority for the breed, particularly as an increasing number of commercial breeders move from first-cross production to fullblood herds.




DNA testing - defects top priority for leading Wagyu studs

Lock Rogers is keen to check for genetic defects in Wagyu

Keith and Alex Hammond have recognised the benefits of genetic testing for herd improvements and checking for polledness

<<< from page 38 As a leading Angus breeder with his famed Wattletop stud, Mr Rogers was familiar with the benefits of estimated breeding values (EBVs) – something he missed greatly when he began breeding Wagyu cattle. “The Japanese had worked out over the last 150 years or so, the art form of breeding magnificent eating quality cattle, but I when began I missed having the science to support my decisions,” Mr Rogers said. “With the Neogen Australasia GGP 50K test we test for all traits but we’ve always focussed on marbling over everything else. It’s particularly important because we supply seedstock going over British breed females and we need to have the highest impact possible for marbling. “As we breed more bulls that may go into herds that are breeding higher content commercial Wagyu, we will need to balance our focus and shift to increasing our carcase weights, our growth rates and on the maternal side we need to focus on milk so that our Fullblood herd is a more practical commercial animal in the paddock.” 40


Both breeders have witnessed dramatic change in their carcase profile as a result of using objective genetic and genomic selection tools in their breeding programs. “Our herd is well above where we were 20 years ago for carcase weight, marbling is more consistent and eye muscle area is better,” Mr Hammond said. They currently have a bull averaging marble score 8.5, carcase weight 476kg, and eye muscle area 106cm2. Mr Hammond said that in the early days in was unheard of to have such high carcase weights and marbling combined. For Mr Rogers purchasing quality seedstock has been a key to this success. “One of the earliest purebred bulls we bought was R82 from Robbins Island, which was by Haruki II. The F1 progeny of this Robbins Island bull were the Whyalla Feedlot’s top-performing steers for marbling for several years running.” Producing about 130 F1 calves each year, Mr Rogers provides a supplementary ration after weaning before sending them to a feedlot for

400 days ahead of slaughter as milk-tooth rising two-year-olds. A recent line of F1 calves were weaned at 7-9 months weighing an average of 335kg for steers and 305kg for heifers before despatch to the feedlot for finishing. And while Mr Rogers hasn’t slaughtered many full blood animals, he has seen the influence of his genetic selection program reflected in the carcase data of his commercial F1 herd, with a recent consignment to JBS averaging 7.4 marble score. The other part of the Doorkey business is the sale of Fullblood Wagyu bulls. The stud boasts breeding value profiles showing 65 out of the 176 calves born last year were in the top 10% in Australia for marbling. “Genetics are so important. I follow the bull breeding values and that helps us identify other traits we can still improve on - there’s always room for improvement and genomics is helping us get there quicker,” he said.


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SBTS/TBTS REGIONAL FORUMS Throughout 2019, Southern Beef Technical Services (SBTS) and Tropical Beef Technical Services (TBTS) will conducting two-day regional forums in 14 locations around Australia. The forums are designed to provide practical and refresher knowledge of BREEDPLAN. Designed to be interactive, discussion sessions will occur through the day to allow producers to learn from each other and share their own experiences on the role of genetics in beef breeding. Attendees are encouraged to attend both days.

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The pinnacle of Australian beef was assessed by a peer group of Australia’s top chefs and commentators. The level of quality in this year’s entries was exceptional. 44


This year’s annual Wagyu Branded Beef Competition held by the Australian Wagyu Association witnessed the very best of Australian Wagyu beef, showcasing the exceptional eating experience and quality of Australia’s homegrown produce.

call of duty to once again cook and present the entries to the judges. The steaks were delivered in a consistent and timely manner, enabling the samples to express all they had to offer in strict accordance with the competition protocols.

Hog’s (Australia’s Steakhouse) has made its first foray into the Elite Wagyu sector by hosting the Australian Wagyu Association’s largest ever Wagyu Branded Beef Competition at their Head Office at Raby Bay Harbour, Cleveland, Qld on Thursday 14th March 2019.

“Whilst our signature steak is an 18-hour slow cooked Prime Rib, it’s important as a chef and representative of Hog’s to be abreast of what’s happening across the Australian Beef Industry,” said Chef John Alexander. “We had a great time hosting this year’s Wagyu Branded Beef competition, and I’m excited to see where the industry goes next.”

Examples of Australia’s highest quality and most expensive beef arrived in the week prior to the judging event and then portioned in the kitchen of the Hog’s boardroom on Wednesday 13th March. Numerous marble score 9 and 9+ (Australia’s highest possible) striploins were portioned, coded and kept chilled for cooking and judging the next day. Hog’s Corporate Chef John Alexander, who has been the Executive Chef for the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition for the past four years, performed above and beyond the

Some of the Judges’ comments: - “Enjoyable chewy yet tender and silky. Very juicy almost a burst of juiciness which lasted”. “Buttery flavour with cereal yet beefy aroma”. “Visible marbling lines and well marbled”. “Appearance was amazing, burst of juice on the first bite, creamy fresh flavour.” AWA Wagyu Branded Beef Co-ordinator, Ron Fitzgerald stated, “Hog’s CEO, Ross Worth, Operations Manager Paul Piert and Corporate Chef John Alexander, as well as

other staff, were extremely, genuinely hospitable and helpful to ensure the smooth running of another successful AWA Wagyu Branded Beef Competition. I would like to thank Hog’s for all their assistance and wish them all the best in any future Wagyu endeavours. The 2019 event had the most steak entries since its inception and the highest number of overall entries as well” AWA CEO Matt McDonough said that the setting and facilities provided by Hog’s at Raby Bay in Brisbane were a perfect match to the entries in this year’s Wagyu Branded Beef Competition. The pinnacle of Australian beef was assessed by a peer group of Australia’s top chefs and commentators. The level of quality in this year’s entries was exceptional. The winners of the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition will be announced

The 2019 Australian Wagyu Association Branded Beef Competition showcases the very best of Australian Wagyu.

during the Association’s annual conference in Adelaide, 8-10 May, 2019.




CHANGING THE WAY WE THINK ABOUT RECORD KEEPING ON-FARM APPROACH TO MANAGING FOR VOLATILE ENVIRONMENTS Irongate Wagyu had a problem familiar to any livestock operation that routinely collects data: so many spreadsheets. Years of collecting data in spreadsheet format from weighscales, abattoirs and other sources had left Irongate with a vast collection of spreadsheets, each giving only a partial insight into herd performance. “Unless you’re really software savvy, spreadsheets only let you deal with small subsets of data,” says Irongate’s Peter Gilmour. “It got to the point where we had all this data, but we were not getting paid for it.” In late 2018, Irongate embedded Effie Ferguson from software developer Practical Systems into the farm’s operation for a month. Effie’s job was to funnel Irongate’s sprawling spreadsheet data into StockBook, Practical Systems’ livestock management database, and help Irongate staff to learn and use the system. This consolidation of data and patching together of frayed pedigree lines into a single database yielded quick results. “We immediately gained yields in our fertility. We found that some cows had given us two calves, and then there might have been a gap for a year or two,” Peter says. “They had been running in the herd, looking good, but they had not been contributing. Identifying and removing those cows was an instant boost to our fertility, which is the number-one driver of profitability in our business.” 46


Irongate, which runs its herd near Albany, WA, is now interrogating StockBook for insights into carcase performance. “Marble score, marbling fineness and eye muscle area are obviously key economic drivers. Understanding these metrics and relating them back to breeding decisions will be vital for the herd’s future performance.” Irongate’s new ability to pour a constant stream of data into a single pool, for data interrogation with remote access has meant that data analysis is bound more tightly into the farm’s management than was previously possible. “Our normal farm activities are now captured in data that we can interrogate, and data analysis is now becoming part of our normal farm activity,” Peter says. “As cattle get inducted, as we establish average daily weight gains, and bring in all the other ongoing management practices that previously sat in isolation, we now have the ability to draw quick reports that might, for instance, prompt us to change our feed ration in response.” Back in Armidale, NSW, the headquarters of Practical Systems, the software house continues to refine its tools for managing profitability, while developing new tools for managing volatility. Increasingly, says Practical Systems Executive Director, Mark Morton, profitability is contingent on managing volatility. To be profitable today, a records system has to help a producer negotiate a business environment in

Effie Ferguson, software developer Practical Systems worked with Irongate for a month to consolidate their records and train staff.


which sale returns can swing by 100 cents per kilogram across the course of a year. The sources of volatility tend to be well outside a producer’s control. “On one hand we’ve got climate volatility, and on the other we have market factors like global political instability and societal shifts,” says Mark. This is changing how Practical Systems (PS) thinks about its record-keeping software, principally Stockbook. When the company was established 25 years ago by Armidale, NSW, accountant Bob Locke, the goal was to bring the new-found power of personal computing to support farm accounting. The company’s scope evolved to embrace livestock recording software; and then, as it became apparent that straight record-keeping wasn’t enough, to enhanced forms of data interrogation. “In a highly volatile environment, we’re trying to build software that gives answers where answers are possible, but more importantly, to help producers understand the questions they need to ask of their business,” Mark says.

“The right answers only become possible when you’re asking the right questions, and those questions may not come to the surface when traditional forms of farm record-keeping are being used.” “Your software might be telling you that a herd of steers has an average weight of 380 kilos — but what factors produce that average? On average, you might be pretty comfortable, but have your head in the freezer and feet in the fire.” “We’re developing better ways of layering data, so that the important elements of performance can be seen in their relationships to each other. And with that, more predictive indicators of performance, so that if we tweak a variable, we have a better idea of what’s going to happen across the other variables that go into animal performance.” The data threads that tie together animal performance and volatility come together neatly in the metric of net feed efficiency — an area that the Australian Wagyu Association has made a considerable investment in.

Feed efficiency has come to the fore in today’s drought-ravaged farming environment, Peter says, and reports that some operations are paying more than $600 a tonne for feed. “We know from AWA’s feed efficiency program that some animals can eat upwards of 17 kilos of feed a day to put on one kilo, and others can eat eight kilos of feed and put on a kilo and still go Marble Score 9. Which genes would you prefer?” “I think this is going to lead to one of the most profound developments in the Wagyu breed since the discovery of the links between feed and marbling. But it’s taken a big investment in gathering the data, and any breeder who wants to capitalise on this development is going to have to make their own investment in data capture and a data repository capable of feeding back the information they need.”




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FLUSH SISTERS OR FLUSH BROTHERS ARE NOT IDENTICAL TWINS GENETIC DIFFERENCES BETWEEN EMBRYOS The use of artificial breeding technologies, including the production of embryos through flushing and artificial insemination are common-place in the Wagyu industry.

siblings at registration we can tell exactly which DNA came from each parent and what the relative value of this DNA for each trait is in each of the progeny.

Many Wagyu breeders are amazed at the physical diversity that can be seen between full sisters or full brothers that are produced from the same flush. This diversity is a result of genetic differences between embryos that is created by the unique sample of parental DNA in each egg and in each sperm that are brought together during fertilisation.

This means that genomics in BREEDPLAN can estimate the genetic difference between full siblings (including flush siblings) early on in life so that the genetic difference between siblings can be used within management and breeding decisions on-farm. The EBVs for full siblings can vary greatly depending on the relative merit of the genes they received from the parents.

Identical twins are genetically identical, they form from a single fertilised egg splitting early in embryo development to form two identical copies, each with the same DNA.

To understand how this genetic diversity occurs between siblings, we need to understand the mechanism through which the diversity is created within the sex cells (sperm and eggs) of an animal.

Flush sisters or flush brothers are not identical twins. Flush sisters or brothers are no different to normal brothers or sisters, they are genetically different versions of the sire and dam’s DNA combining. Flush sisters or brothers share the same sire and dam, like any other naturally produced sister or brother. The only different is, that they are produced at the same point in time. Each individual flush sibling is the product of a different sperm and different egg. Each sperm and each egg caries a different sample of sire or dam’s DNA. This is why there is genetic diversity between siblings and why flush siblings are no different to normal brothers or sisters. Within Wagyu BREEDPLAN, flush siblings and full siblings produced through normal matings used to only have the same EBVs estimated for each sibling. These were based on the mid-parent values, basically 50% of the sire and 50% of the dam. Once performance records are added to BREEDPLAN, the EBVs for full siblings would then change to reflect the phenotype differences observed by breeders.

GENETIC MATERIAL Chromosomes are the cellular structures that maintain and transmit genetic information. They are made of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) combined with proteins. The DNA provides the blueprint for the physical, and some of the behavioural, traits of the animal. These traits are a unique and random mix of the parents determined by which particular sperm happens to fertilise which particular egg.

CHROMOSOME PAIRS Every cell in cattle (except the gametes) contains 30 chromosome pairs or 60 chromosomes in total. The 60 chromosomes represent one copy of each chromosome from each parent. >> page 51



FIGURE 1 Each calf receives one copy of each of 30 chromosomes from each parent (60 copies in total – 2 of each chromosome).



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Flush sisters or flush brothers are not identical twins

<<< from page 49

SEX CELLS – THE GAMETES Gametes are special cells that have undergone reduction and contain only 30 chromosomes (one copy of each chromosome). These gametes are the female egg and the male sperm that fuse together during fertilisation, restoring the 60 chromosomes in the fertilised cell and initiating the events that result in embryo development.

CREATION OF SEX CELLS (MEIOSIS) Meiosis is the process that creates the gametes within the sperm and the egg of each of the parents. Meiosis occurs in two stages. In meiosis stage 1, the two copies of 30 chromosomes are sorted into two groups. The cell nucleus then dissolves and the 30 pairs of chromosomes line up along the centre of the cell. Some pair members from each parent exchange portions of their DNA in a process called crossover that helps increase genetic diversity by creating non-identical pairs. See Figure 2. Following crossover, one copy of each chromosome pair is pulled to one side of the cell while the other copy is dragged to the opposite side (see figure 3). This process (also called independent assortment) occurs randomly to separate the chromosome pairs to opposite ends of the cell. A gamete will therefore end up with the full 30 chromosomes, but each gamete will have one of many different combinations of chromosomes and crossover chromosomes from the original set of 60. This reshuffling of genes into unique combinations increases the genetic variation in a population and explains the variation we see between siblings with the same parents. The halving of the number of chromosomes in gametes ensures that, after fertilisation, the embryo will have the same number of chromosomes as the parents (30 come from each parent gamete to make the 60 in total). This is critical for stable sexual reproduction through successive generations.

FIGURE 2 An example of the crossing over between the pairs of chromosomes for chromosome three. The above is only to illustrate the principle and crossing over normally occurs between several of the chromosome pairs during meiosis.

FIGURE 3 One chromosome of each pair is dragged to each side, halving the number of chromosomes in each cell. Independent assortment caused black chromosome 28 and (mainly pink) chromosome 3 to be dragged to the top cell.

Meiosis stage 1 ends when the cell divides into two daughter cells, each having only the 30 chromosomes which were gathered at each opposite end of the cell. >> page 53 ISSUE 71 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE



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Flush sisters or flush brothers are not identical twins <<< from page 51 To further genetic diversity, another round of meiosis occurs - meiosis stage 2. The chromosomes once again align at the centre of the cell. This time, the single-copy of chromosomes are distributed to two daughter cells known as gametocytes. In this way, one cell results in four non-identical gametocytes that undergo further development to become sperm or eggs. See figure 4.


The above is a much-simplified illustration of the process which assures genetic diversity and variation in the population. In addition to meiosis a population is also under the influence of mutations which could also modify the genetic makeup of the population and could benefit or be to the detriment of the population.

After meiosis finished 1 cell resulted in four non-identical sperm or egg cells.

Single-Step Breedplan has the ability to accurately determine which part of the genetic material came from which parent, grand parent, great-grand parent etc and calculate the genetic merit of the animal accordingly. This is the main reason for the differences one can now observe between the EBVs of embryo calves when they have been 50K SNP tested.

FIGURE 5 A story of 7 full-flush siblings – the use of genomics clearly shows the effect on EBVs. Figure 5 shows the impact of 50K genomics data on the EBVs of 7 flush siblings. In Wagyu BREEDPLAN pre-genomics, all 7 had the same Marble Score EBV, but due to weight data being provided during early life growth, the animals had different Carcase Weight EBVs. Once 50K genomic data was added, Wagyu BREEDPLAN could determine the relative genetic merit of each individual for Marble Score, with large genetic variation now evident in this trait.




1.6 1.5 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.1


1.0 0









1.6 1.5 1.4 1.3 1.2 1.1


1.0 0





















The flowchart in Figure 1 displays the reasons that this might occur and the process that will need to occur to get your progeny parent verified to be registered. A new by-law has now been introduced which will allow testing back to a parent with a MiP profile of less than 21 markers, as long as the progeny then also has a 50KSNP completed. If the parents of your progeny are not able to be SNP tested and you have already SNP tested the progeny, you will need to complete a new DNA Test request for the progeny requesting a MiP profile. 3.2.3 For animals not already registered in the Herdbook, where parent verification is based on ISAG standardised MiP markers, a 50K SNP

FIGURE 1 - explains the reasons why progeny many not be able to be parent verified using SNPs.

genotype must be provided for the animal in addition to the MiP profile used for registration. All progeny from these animals must be parent verified using 21 MiP markers or 50K SNP genotyping supplied by an AWA approved DNA testing laboratory. We encourage any members which haven’t done so already to consider migrating to SNP testing so that these cases can be resolved in their herd before MiP testing is no longer available. If you’re not able to SNP PV your progeny but you’re certain that the parent has been SNP tested, then there is usually a sample problem. If there are other progeny that has SNP PV’d previously to that parent, it is usually an issue with the progeny’s sample. If there are several calves from the one parent that fail to parent verify, it is usually a problem with the sample of the parent. Our suggestion in this situation is to send in a new sample and have it tested for 50KSNP so it can be compared to the current sample and then be used in for parent verification. If there are animals which remain unable to be parent verified, you will be able to complete a CWT (Crossbred Wagyu Test) on these animals which can be used in our Grading Up system. 54





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