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Vol. 72 The Wagyu industry’s premier trade magazine produced by the Australian Wagyu Association

www.wagyu.org.au September 2019





Wagyu consolidates


Planning for the future


Integrity of Wagyu industry shines

15 Royal Flying Doctor Service 16 Wagyu Feed Calculator App


21 Top genetics reward careful planning 26 Understanding EBV Accuracy 30 Japan beef consumption trends and Wagyu


32 Handle with care in-transit 34 Process and protocol to export Wagyu genetics 39 Victoria Valley Meats brings the flexibility advantage 43 WBBC strengthens brand owner recognition 47 Brisket and brand go hand in hand

Publisher THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU ASSOCIATION (AWA) office@wagyu.org.au 02 8880 7700 Consulting Editor DEBORAH ANDRICH deb@wagyu.com.au 0400 855 040 Contributing Writers CHANTAL WINTER, Dr. MATT McDONAGH AND CAREL TESELING Art Direction HEATHER FRAZIER heather@wagyu.org.au 0432 949 764 GENERAL ENQUIRIES AWA Chief Executive Officer Dr. MATT McDONAGH office@wagyu.org.au 02 8880 7700 Wagyu Update advertising enquiries HEATHER FRAZIER heather@wagyu.org.au 0432 949 764


Scott deBruin and the team from Mayura Station hosted delegates on day one of the WagyuEdge tour (see page 9 for more). 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.





WAGYU CONSOLIDATES Dear Members, Well, what a fantastic event the 2019 Wagyu Edge Conference turned out to be! With more than 430 delegates, a great range of speakers and an excellent venue, it exceeded our expectations and truly delivered. I’m sure that you are all aware that without the continued support of our sponsors and speakers it would be difficult to produce such a high-level event. For those of you who were able to make the event, especially during these hard times I thank you for your support. It was a great turn out, but for those who couldn’t attend, make sure you access the videos from the conference so you can keep informed.



The flow on effects from the conference are becoming apparent, including more than 1,500 downloads of the Wagyu Feed Calculator App, a lot more interest in Australian Wagyu genetics and greater international Association membership. As the Association grows, so does the level of interest in Single-Step BREEDPLAN and DNA genomic testing and it is satisfying to see that the member services team are able to process the enquiries and requests in a timely manner since the improvements implemented early in 2018. To support our members, we have been able to negotiate multiple service providers and negotiate lower rates in many cases as well as keeping membership fees on hold. The Association now stands at 726 members, including 100 international members. I would like to extend a warm welcome to all our new members, and please be assured that the Association will do all it can to facilitate enquiries in registrations and testing processes to make accessing our services as smooth and timely as possible. Looking forward, the AWA Board has been working extremely hard to develop the next Strategic Plan for 2020–2025. We



will ensure that the AWA continues to provide the services and support to the Wagyu industry, gain strength and meet the needs of the future. The Strategic Plan 2020-2025 is planned for launch at the 2019 Annual General Meeting. In the past six months, we have completed significant re-negotiation of research and development funding for AWA research projects with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). To assist MLA to respond to restrictions in their funding environment, we have restaged our vital research projects including the Net Feed Intake program with Kerwee Feedlot and the Crossbred Wagyu Genomics project. The AGM is slated for the 25 November, 2019 at the Brisbane Airport Convention Centre, with workshops on genetics and genomics to be conducted by AWA staff and industry speakers. I encourage you to make the trip to Brisbane to take advantage of these workshops to increase your skills and knowledge in using technology to improve genetic gain for your herd. Our workshop will seek to build on the information provided at the 2019 WagyuEdge Conference in Adelaide. Finally, it has been an honour to again support the Royal Flying Doctor Service during our Charity Auction at the gala dinner in Adelaide. Thank you to those who supported the event with donations or successful bids. Our CEO, Matt McDonagh has presented the RFDS with a cheque of $41,300 to assist the RFDS Central Operations with crucial medical services for Southern and Central Australia. On behalf of the Board and staff of the AWA we look forward to catching up with you in Brisbane on the 25th of November for the Workshop sessions and AGM.

Chantal Winter President Australian Wagyu Association



ceo update



2019 WAGYU EDGE: BUILDING INTEGRITY CONFERENCE It was a pleasure to see so many of you again and to meet the many new AWA members at our 2019 WagyuEdge: Building Integrity Conference in Adelaide. Of the 430 in attendance, about half have provided us feedback on the conference through our post-conference survey which is greatly appreciated and helps to improve our event each year.

CHANGE IN WAGYU BREEDPLAN RUN DATE The publishing date for Wagyu BREEDPLAN has been moved forward slightly to the 20th of each month. When you are submitting registrations, performance records and genomic information to AWA, please have your data submitted by the 3rd of each month with the AWA prior to the BREEDPLAN run you are aiming at so that all available information is encapsulated.

AWA BOARD MEETING: 25-26 JUNE 2019. The AWA Board met in Sydney on the 25th of June 2019 to conduct strategic planning and to hold its quarterly Board meeting coinciding with the End of Financial Year. The Board have addressed a range of key issues including: 1. Setting the date and timing of the 2019 Annual General Meeting The 2019 Annual General Meeting will be held at 3.30pm on the 25th of November 2019 at the Brisbane Airport Convention centre. The Convention Centre is a 5-minute walk from the Brisbane Airport Domestic Terminal. 2. AWA Member Technical Workshop and evening event 25th of November 2019 Each year, the AWA holds a technical workshop with speakers addressing a range of current genetic and production-related issues. We will also hold a roof-top cocktail evening at the Brisbane Airport Conference Centre Sky Lounge following the AGM to provide attendees with a networking opportunity and chance to meet the new AWA Board. Details and booking information for the event which will coincide with the 2019 AGM will be released shortly. 6


3. Progressing the AWA 2020 – 2025 Strategic Plan In line with good governance and knowing the challenges and opportunities that face Wagyu production, the AWA Board and the Strategic Planning Committee has this year been working on establishing its 2020-25 Strategic Plan with the support of Haines Centre for Strategic Management. The AWA 2020-2025 Strategic Plan will be released at the November 25th AGM. 4. No increase in membership or registration fees The Board have approved no increase in membership and registration fees for FY2020. As a result, full membership and cattle registration costs will remain at $302.50 and $30.60 respectively. 5. Approval of new members The Board approved application to membership of 17 new Full Australian members, 15 Full Overseas members and 3 Associate members for the final quarter of FY2019. This brought total AWA membership to 726 in total. 6. FY2020 Business Plan and Budget approved The Board have approved the FY2020 AWA Business Plan and Budget as recommended by the Corporate Affairs Committee and the Audit and Finance Committee respectively. 7. Review of AWA R&D projects Milestone reports for the AWA R&D projects co-funded with Meat and Livestock Australia were noted as on-track for the Kerwee Feedlot Net Feed Intake project, the Crossbred Wagyu Genomics project and the AWA Fullblood Wagyu Genomics Projects. These projects are vital to the innovation and development of our member services and progress of our industry. 8. AWA Website rebuild is underway The Board reviewed progress with a new AWA website which is being implemented to streamline member and public access to content on the AWA site. A new website is aimed for completion prior to the 2020 AWA Conference.

9. Revised BREEDPLAN Disclaimer approved The transition of the Wagyu industry from MiP based parentage verification to SNP based parentage verification and broad-based uptake of genomics within Wagyu SingleStep BREEDPLAN is well progressed. In line with this, the AWA Board have revised the legal disclaimer around the use of publicly provided Herdbook and BREEDPLAN information. The disclaimer is provided to website users for acceptance prior to access of AWA Herdbook and BREEDPLAN information. 10. Updates to AWA Bylaws regarding registration and naming Changes to AWA Bylaws to formalise processes around Animal Identification, Registration of Sold Animals/Embryos and Pedigree record discrepancies are: 3.5 Registration of sold animals 3.5.1 Where a live animal is sold by the breeder of the animal to a new owner prior to registration, permission for registration of the animal must be granted by the breeder of the animal. Upon meeting the requirements for registration, the animal will be registered within the herd of the breeder, including carrying the herd prefix of the breeder of the animal within its name. The animal will then be transferred from the breeder to the new owner of the animal.

11. Genetic Testing Services provided by Zoetis approved The Board approved the execution of a DNA testing services agreement with Zoetis. AWA and Zoetis are currently completing testing of the DNA testing products to be offered by Zoetis prior to their commercial availability to AWA members. The AWA welcomes Zoetis as a new provider of services to our members. 12. Review of the 2019-2020 AWA Performance report Performance against KPIs for the 2019-2020 Financial Year was reviewed by the Board noting the following significant achievements: »» Development and testing of systems to allow acceptance of DNA services from new providers; »» Implementation of SNP-based PV systems that accommodate testing from multiple service providers; »» Significantly increased throughput and improved turnaround times on DNA testing requests for more than 40,000 animals for the last Financial Year, 27,000 of which were 50K genomic tests; »» Implementation of large volumes of 50K genomic profiles within Single-Step Wagyu BREEDPLAN to improve EBVs for registered animals; »» Implementing new BreedObject profitability $Indexes for Self-Replacing herds, Fullblood Terminal and F1 Terminal production systems;

3.5.2 Where an embryo is sold by the breeder of the

»» Total animal searches conducted through Single-Step Wagyu

animal to a new owner, the breeder of the embryo will

BREEDPLAN increased by 25% to more than 1 million. Semen and sales searches through the AWA website increased by 31% to more than 70,000 enquiries;

provide access to the relevant DNA typing information for the purposes of registration of the resultant live animal. Upon meeting the requirements for registration, the animal will be registered within the herd of the new owner, including carrying the herd prefix of the new owner of the animal within its name. 5.1.3 General Regulations, Breeder’s Records It shall be the duty of members, being the breeder or owner of a registered animal, to provide notice to the AWA where the pedigree of an animal as recorded by the AWA is known to be incorrect for an animal they have bred or they own. “

»» Revision and republication of the 2019 Wagyu Breeding Guide; »» Increased educational and technical content relevant to AWA services and Wagyu Breeding within our Wagyu Update publications; »» The new Wagyu Feed Calculator App available within the App Store and on Google Play to better manage pre-feedlot entry growth paths; »» Implementation of new Bylaws and processes to assist with registration of historic and/or animals tested by international laboratories; ISSUE 72 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE


CEO Update

»» Reduced DNA testing prices for high-volume products and bundle packages; »» No increase in membership or registration fees across Financial Years 2019 to 2020; »» The AWA completed its move to an independent premises within Armidale and implemented its own stand-alone data servers and systems; »» AWA memberships at end of Financial Year is 726 members, of which 578 are Full members; »» More than 500 members attended our major educational events including the 2019 Wagyu Edge Conference and the 2018 Technical Workshop prior to the Annual General Meeting.

UPDATE FROM THE OFFICE Our staff have worked hard and continue to do so to improve on changes from MiP to SNP systems. We have resolved many of the issues regarding DNA testing and turnaround times. We have maintained turnaround times at an average of four to six weeks from

services in the office and to deliver better outcomes for our members. I look forward to seeing you at our next Genetics and Genomics Workshop together with our AGM on the 25th of November at the Brisbane Airport Convention Centre. Booking details for the event will be released shortly.

DNA Test Requests being submitted to the AWA to results being returned to members. We are focused on continuing to improve in this area and to further assist members to register animals that qualify based on PV.

Dr. Matt McDonagh

Chief Executive Officer Australian Wagyu Association

As your CEO and on behalf of our staff, I thank you for your membership and your support of the AWA through continued use of our products and services. We are working to continuously improve what we do so that we can provide better

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Our first function for the annual conference, kicked off at The Adelaide Oval in a relaxed atmosphere.

INTEGRITY OF WAGYU INDUSTRY SHINES ANNUAL CONFERENCE The Australian Wagyu Association annual conference, WagyuEdge: Building Integrity has shown once again that it is a highlight of the Wagyu industry calendar – and for the beef sector. Held at the Adelaide Convention Centre, 8-12 May, 430 delegates took full advantage of our Speaker presentations, networking opportunities, social events, Charity Auction, Wagyu Branded Beef Competition and records were broken in the Elite Wagyu National Sale.

Welcome Dinner guests.

In all, the aim of the conference was to build a conversation around Wagyu production and the supply chain, and with insights from the feedlot industry, the global and Japanese markets, and personal insights into performance and brand, delegates were given much to think about.

DAY 1 To acknowledge our 30-year anniversary, Keith Hammond of Robbins Island Wagyu, kicked off the conference with his personal reflections on the industry’s history. As a pastpresident in the early days, Keith has watched the industry evolve into a well-respected beef production from the days of the early pioneers through to relatively new players.

ABOVE LEFT Gala Dinner guests enjoy sampling Wagyu from Mort & Co's brand The Phoenix. ABOVE RIGHT Some home truths about operating a feedlot and custom feeding Wagyu with Berry Reynolds, Andrew Malloy and Steve Martin. LEFT A personal reflection on our 30-year history by 3rd president, Keith Hammond.

Monjiro was a famous bull in Japan and was still producing progeny 15 years after he died, having two of his best Sire progeny - Michifuku and Haruki 2 in our genetic pool, I knew it would be exciting... Keith Hammond The makeup and use of the new Wagyu BreedObject $Indexes were addressed by AGBU’s Dr Brad Walmsley. BreedObject $Indexes for Wagyu are a massive step forward for Wagyu breeders. These new indexes draw together BREEDPLAN EBV information into a single figure to allow comparison of animals based on the profitability of their progeny within Fullblood and F1 commercial systems. ISSUE 72 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE



To round out the importance of data and EBVs Catriona Millen of SBTS refreshed our knowledge on contemporary groups, outliers and the impacts on BREEDPLAN. A few delegates commented that while they had seen or read some of this information before, the style of presentation by Brad and Catriona made it clearer in their own minds how it could be applied to their Wagyu businesses. Todd Andrews of NSW DPI introduced the Wagyu Feed Calculator App, which was launched at the Conference. Delegates were shown how the App is designed to assist producers define their supplementary feed needs for grass-fed cattle. Designed specifically for Wagyu, it takes into consideration animal weight and available pasture to determine rates of gain on pasture available, and supplementary feed requirements and cost to reach target feedlot entry points. To read more about the App, see page 16. To round out the day, Berry Reynolds (Mort

& Co), Andrew Mallow (Rangers Valley) and Steve Martin (Kerwee Feedlot) gave presentations on their perspective of how and where, the feedlot industry is going for Wagyu. A panel session followed allowing delegates to ask some of the hard questions about the future trends in Wagyu through the feedlot system. Some of the home truths to emerge from the Session was the need for quality genetics and to optimise nutrition prior to feedlot entry to ensure marbling is not impacted pre-feedlot and that carcase weight is realised to full market potential. This aligned well with the discussion on the Wagyu Feed Calculator App.

understanding their wants and needs back to production and breeding.

Our keynote Speaker, Hugh Killen, CEO of AACo shared the company’s approach to meeting the challenges faced by the industry. Outlining four key challenges, commoditisation; quality control; a changing customer base and the need for trust. Mr Killen sees AACo, which is

As the consumer base expands and



trust with the consumer in the brand and




primarily an export company, building

evolves through increased awareness and consequently production, there is a risk of diluting Wagyu as a brand through lesser quality cuts and creating a commodity rather than remaining a premium product. The strategy for AACo is to focus on the


n AV & EJ Collecting n Government accredited export collection centre E T N A CREEK O FFI CE ( 07 ) 49 3 4 24 3 5


To truly appreciate the quality of our Wagyu Branded Beef, it has to be tasted to be believed!

eating experience, not just marble score, underpinned by MSA and eating quality as well as acknowledging that the company has a responsibility toward environmental stewardship to strengthen the Wagyu story. To achieve those outcomes, AACo recognises that genetics are integral to ensuring effective production systems and implementing sustainable practices to protect the environment and the introduction of new technologies to streamline processes. Part of that mix is the development of their own genetic data analysis systems, the move to polled genetics and improving supply chain networks. In closing, Mr Killen wanted to acknowledge those in the industry who had and still are; doing it tough as a result of the drought and devastating floods. Continuing on with the Big Picture theme, Andrew Cox, Japan expert with MLA and Bully Kohno outlined how meat trends are evolving in Japan and greater Asia and the impacts that has on Wagyu beef. With a population with growing affluence, the Asian market is seeing a trend toward greater numbers taking a more Western diet, that is highlighted by the increase in fast-food chains and the greater importation of beef – ground and cuts. As a consequence, premium products such as Wagyu – particularly at the high end – are seen more as a status symbol. The Japanese Wagyu industry has noted the change and is now striving toward more A3 graded Wagyu, down from the premium A5 and focusing on larger, more economical cattle. Coming back home, ALFA President and director of Camm Agricultural Company, Bryce Camm brought a personal and professional approach to his presentation. Most would agree that feedlotting is a margin-based business, and re-iterating the messages heard on Day 1, Bryce pointed out that smart business management by the sector in the face of rising grain prices was necessary to keep the supply chain moving forward, while at the same time understanding the changing consumer landscape.

Anthony Winter, Gina Lincoln, Laird Morgan and Alan Hoey shared more personal stories of their journey in Wagyu – from a whole of life approach to nurturing through to genetics to give the desired production system; or how data can underpin your decisions to improve the overall herd. In a candid presentation, Anthony (Macquarie Wagyu) admitted that he and Chantal had made mistakes – including sending a breed-leading bull off to slaughter because data had not been collected to that point and his breeding potential had not been quantified. After learning this hard lesson, they have now implemented systems for data management and use this data for benchmarking in BREEDPLAN and to produce diversified genetics that give consistent outcomes. Macquarie Wagyu’s reputation as a quality breeder led Laird Morgan to his purchase of Sires and Dams to kick start his program at Arubial Wagyu. In a few short years, utilising data, Laird is able to produce cattle with top credentials and EBVs. “The decision to buy Macquarie Prelude and make this bull available to the public has proved to be the right one,” said Laird. Semen from this bull is exported globally has been the number one selling beef bull (all breeds) for ABS Australia for the past 18 months. This provides an insight into the demand for top Wagyu genetics around the world. Laird finished by stating that “You don’t have to use EBV’s, but understand that I am and that you are competing with me”. ISSUE 72 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE



Alan Hoey, who has been in the industry since the days of the early pioneers, readily admits that his approach to selecting genetics fit for a purpose won’t suit every operation. In consulting with Wagyu breeders, the first question Alan asks is ‘what are you aiming for with your operation? And what do you want it to look like in 5 or 10 years?’ From there it is a question of utilising his knowledge of the Wagyu breed and genetics available; the nutrition and environment it will be raised in; is it Fullblood or crossbred and the data available to create a plan to create new notable Sires and Dams to improve the outcomes in marbling, carcase weight or other traits. Gina highlighted the role of nutrition to reach that genetic potential, particularly for Wagyu calves where the mother may have poor milk delivery and the calf may need early weaning. Gradual introduction to solids with bottle-feeding if necessary, will enable the rumen system to reach the fully functional stage. Operating in southern states, Gina also talked through the challenges in cooler climates, including scour management. Jac Wagyu on Day 3, highlighted how the decision was made to utilise MSA to underpin brand promise and eating

The Hon. Simon Crean, ALEC and conference closing kenote speaker (far right), addresses a question from the floor during the Q&A session on Foundations of a sustainable future. Completing the Q&A panel from left to right is Jason Lewis, Jac Wagyu JoJo Carrales, HeartBrand USA ,Bryce Camm, ALFA and Anna Speer, AACo.

quality. According to Jason Lewis, the overall profitability of a Wagyu operation must focus on carcase weight, maturity in marbling and growth, weaning and weight. To be a profitable enterprise, Jac Wagyu has adopted a vertical integration approach, where contracts are made 12 months in advance for as much as 90% of production. Optimising quality within that system needs to take priority. Heartbrand USA’s JoJo Carrales gave delegates an interesting insight, not only into Red Wagyu (Akaushi genetics) but also the drivers and challenges the company faces operating in the US. The aim of the

Heartbrand operation is to achieve a 650kg end weight, average daily gain of 1.27kg per day, supported by DNA verification and no more than 25% Brahman influence. To round out the conference, closing keynote Speaker The Hon. Mr Simon Crean spoke of the big picture for the live export trade and acknowledged the part that Wagyu plays in the industry. In an era of unsettled sentiment toward live trade, Mr Crean outlined the efforts that the industry is making to regain trust for stakeholders and the general public and encouraged all elements of the red meat industry to create a collective voice to address all sectors of government.



430 delegates for the conference 42 from overseas including USA, UK, South Africa, Japan, New Zealand, Namibia, Germany, Hong Kong and Paraguay

delegates for the Tour to Mayura Station and Sher Wagyu



raised in the Charity Auction to share between the Royal Flying Doctor Service and Wagyu Fellowship

entries from 15 companies entered the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition with Mayura Station Signature Series crowned Grand Champion

Three Elite Wagyu National Sale records broken







speakers over three days

sponsors thank you!



$280k $200k $6,730 for a Mayura Station female

for a Trent Bridge PTIC cow

per straw from a Macquarie Wagyu bull

Nick and Vicki Sher from Sher Wagyu shared their insights on using collected data to inform their breeding decisions.



TWO-DAY TOUR Our Tour made it’s way to the Limestone Coast of South Australia to visit Scott deBruin and the team at Mayura Station, who provided their story on how the recording of data is only the first step in evaluating genetic progress. The next steps are to use that data and genomic information through the AWA to make selection decisions and to benchmark their herd within Wagyu BREEDPLAN so that the true genetic merit of animals in the herd can be determined Day 2 continued onward to Victoria to visit another pioneering family in Nick and Vicki Sher at Sher Wagyu. Sher Wagyu are

Honorary Life Members of the AWA and their pioneering work has paved the way for many to follow. Delegates were treated to a real farm welcome, with presentations and lunch served in the re-vamped shearing shed. Nick and Vicki spoke at length about the need to keep accurate data to inform their breeding program and to develop strong relationships and being loyal to valued customers whilst also developing new markets. “On behalf of the AWA Conference Committee, I would like to thank all who attended the conference and tour,” said AWA CEO Matt McDonagh. “The feedback from delegates and sponsors is that this year’s




conference has been a great success – not just for the Speakers presented, but for the opportunity to spend meaningful time with colleagues in the industry,”. “Plans are already underway to prepare for the 2020 Conference which is likely to be at the Gold Coast, with a tour through South Eastern Queensland and we hope to keep building on the Wagyu Edge conversation.


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for finishing Wagyu cattle on pasture.

To view our full range of products visit

www.riverina.com.au ISSUE 72 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE



The Wagyu industry gets behind the Gala Dinner The AWA annual conference Gala Dinner is definitely an opportunity to dress to impress and let our hair down and celebrate our industry in style. Thanks once more to Mort & Co for the supply of superb Wagyu product for the dinner. On the agenda was the presentation of the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition awards – congratulations once more to Grand Champion, Mayura Station for their Signature Series. For a full list of winners visit our website.

Thanks to Mort & Co for supplying the superb Wagyu product for the Gala Dinner



The other item of business is the annual Charity Auction to raise funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Wagyu Fellowship. In a season of significant donations given to those in need from drought and floods, it was heartening to see that the Wagyu industry pull together to raise significant funds.

Auctioneers from GDL lend a hand at the Charity Auction to raise funds for the RFDS and the Wagyu Fellowship

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The Australian Wagyu Association are proud to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in saving lives in rural and remote Australia through its annual Charity Auction.

Donations for bidding at the Charity Auction included McGuigan wine,

The Charity Auction held by the Association during the highly successfully WagyuEdge: Building Integrity conference held during May in Adelaide raised more than $40,000 for the RFDS from the generous support of Association members.

and tags, BeefCentral advertising package, Kerwee Feedlot head on feed,

signed rugby jerseys, Cha Cha Char Wine Bar & Grill Degustation dinner, Ariat and Just Country clothing packages, Tru Test stick reader hand crafted stockwhips and Spectrum wine. In all, $82,600 was raised, split evenly between the Royal Flying Doctor Service Central Operations and the Wagyu Fellowship program.

Association CEO, Matt McDonagh presented the Royal Flying Doctor Service Central Operations (serving SA/ NT) with a cheque for $41,300 at its base at Adelaide Airport and said that it was an honour to support such a worthwhile charity and thanked donors and bidders for their continued support. On hand to receive the cheque was RFDS Central Operations Chief Executive Tony Vaughan ASM and Executive General Manager, Marketing and Stakeholder Relations, Charlie Paterson. In receiving the cheque, Mr Vaughan said that “The RFDS conducts over 100 aeromedical flights across Australia every day but we rely on the continued support from the community to keep our crews in the sky.” “We are delighted to accept this wonderful contribution from the Australian Wagyu Association and thank its members for their support. The donation will support our capital-raising program for on-going upgrade of our fleet of ‘flying intensive care units’ that deliver 24/7 emergency aeromedical services throughout South and Central Australia.”

AWA CEO Dr Matt McDonagh presents RFDS Central Operation with a cheque donation of $41,300, raised during the conference Charity Auction.


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WAGYU FEED CALCULATOR APP FOR IMPROVED SUPPLEMENTARY FEEDING birth. The result is a high, consistent growth rate for whole of life with no setbacks. This is vital for optimised marbling.

At the 2019 AWA annual conference, WagyuEdge: Building Integrity, the Wagyu Feed Calculator App was launched – now downloaded more than 1,500 times - a collaborative project between the Association and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, aimed at improving weight gain in pre-feedlot stock and ultimately, marbling in Wagyu. It is well known that marbling is 30-40% heritable, meaning that environmental factors, principally nutrition, account for the remaining 60-70%. The Japanese Wagyu production system uses a feeding regime that gives a level growth rate and increasing plane of nutrition from within a few weeks of

Australian feeding systems are typically based on maternal milk and grazing until weaning, followed by pasture nutrition with some supplementation depending on the season until the calf reaches feedlot entry weight. Weight gain for Australian Wagyu typically shows a steady growth rate prior to weaning (200 days), but post weaning, while the calf is on pasture, weight gain can be highly variable or even decline if pasture availability is low, for example during drought. Recovering weight loss by supplementing animals to increase live

weight rapidly prior to feedlot entry, does not recover the marbling lost during weight loss. A consistent rate of weight gain while backgrounding (at least 0.8kg per day) is essential for marbling development and in Australia, is largely dependent on the pasture quality and quantity, where no supplementary feed is used. Dry matter content and digestibility determine much of the nutrition (in the form of protein and energy) that can be obtained while grazing. Improved tropical pastures are increasingly being sown, as producers adapt to warmer conditions and variable rainfall. As a result, graziers need to be aware of pasture quality and if their animals’ nutritional


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requirements are being met and whether they need to take appropriate action with supplements to achieve weight gain targets to optimise marbling.

FIGURE 1 Relationship between digestibility and tropical pasture maturity

The growth phase of tropical grasses determines the digestibility and nutritional value available. In Phase one or the ‘green pick’ phase, the pasture is highly digestible and nutritious, but low availability limits animal weight gain. Conversely, when grass approaches the reproductive stage producing seed heads and dying back, a cow’s ability to digest the stubble drops dramatically. For more information on the growth phases of grass, refer to Issue 70 of Wagyu Update. Cattle will need to eat significantly more to gain the same level of nutrition, but low digestibility actually reduces intake, and graziers face weight loss in their cattle if supplements are not available.


65 -70

ENERGY (MJ ME/kg DM) active growth, green


late vegtative, green

60-65 55-60 50-55

early flowering


8.2- 9.1 7.4- 8.2

late flowering, in head

6.5- 7.4

dry grass and leaf

45- 50 40-45


35 -40

»» If your cow eats 10kg of pasture and passes 3kg of dung, the pasture is roughly 70% digestible. »» If tropical pasture is in the active growth phase, it is around 65-70% digestible; at early flowering it is 55-60% digestible, if it is stubble/ stalks it is 35-40% digestible meaning the cow will produce more dung than it is retaining. PASTURE DENSITY The pasture density impacts on availability - how much of the ground is covered by pasture? Is it clumpy or patchy?

Below the sole of your boot is not going to give you anything more than about 1,000kg dry matter per hectare, ankle height often equates to about 1500 kg DM/ha. DRY MATTER

4.8- 5.7 4.0- 4.8


A GUIDE TO DIGES TIBILIT Y DECLINE AS TROPICAL PAS TURES MATURE The digestibility of temperate grasses is higher than for tropical species and so livestock weight gains are higher.

We need to be getting pre-feedlot nutrition right so that the genetic potential of the animal is met.


If you take the water content out of the pasture, what is left is dry matter, comprising energy, protein and minerals.

5.7- 6.5 dry stalks

WORKING YOUR WAY THROUGH THE APP Before getting started it is worth becoming familiar with a few terms and some assumptions:


MODERATE PRODUCTION mid-flowering, green and dead

“If the results show there is insufficient pasture to achieve the required growth rates, you can then enter a number of supplement feeds to make up the difference, such as grain or stockfeed pre-mixes.”

Matt: “We need to be getting pre-feedlot nutrition right so that the genetic potential of the animal is met. It takes four times as much energy to deposit a kilogram of fat as it does to deposit a kilogram of lean. This is why Wagyu do not grow as fast as other breeds. Wagyu feeders can have 10% IMF at feedlot entry. Because of this, it can be hard to get enough energy and protein to get 0.8kg/day with Wagyu on grass alone.” The Wagyu Feed Calculator App – a free download for desktop and mobile devices – takes into consideration the specific needs of Wagyu with a target daily weight gain of 0.8kg. “The App takes into consideration the quality and quantity of available pasture, to estimate livestock weight gain (or loss),” said Todd Andrews, Beef Development Officer, NSW DPI.

The Wagyu Feed Calculator requires you to make some estimations about your pasture. In using the App, it is important that you also measure and understand weight gain in your cattle. “Lower than expected weight gain based on pasture estimation calculations in the App may mean that you have overestimated your pasture,” said Matt. “Conversely, higher weight gains than expected may be the result of pasture under-estimation. “If producers start to estimate their pasture and measure weight gain in their cattle, they will quickly get a better understanding of the quality and availability of their pasture and how this translates to growth of their feeders.” The first page of the App asks for pasture quality (Dry Matter Digestibility), pasture height and pasture density. Height and density will be calculated to give the amount available. The next option is to specify the type of grazing – cell grazing where the animals don’t use a lot of energy to forage, or to a system where the animals are walking extensively to find pasture, and burning energy as a consequence. ISSUE 72 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE


Wagyu feed calculator app

“It is important to remember, that it is a supplementary feed App and assumes you have pasture available,” said Todd. “If you are aiming to gain 600gm or 800gm, it can be adjusted to give the final supplement feed needed to reach that objective. “Benchmarking your cattle weight gain before you start, to ensure that estimated livestock weight gain is close to estimated weight gain, is a good way to ensure that you have correctly estimated and entered the pasture components, and are therefore

Benchmarking your cattle weight gain before you start, .. a good way to ensure that you have correctly estimated and entered the pasture components,

using appropriate types and amount of supplementary feeds. With the cost of feed, getting it right will make a huge difference to the efficiency of the feeding program.”

MEDIC TEMPERATE GRASSES Pasture height 20 cm Pasture density 100% Grazing some grazing


GOOD TROPICAL PASTURE Pasture height 10 cm Pasture density 100% Pasture quality 60% Calculated pasture availability of 3333kg DM/ha


The pasture quality (Digestibility) is calculated to be 70% with around 3.5 tonnes of available dry matter per hectare. Weight gain in this example shouldn’t be limited by the pasture. Select the ‘Livestock’ button to enter particulars about your cattle needs: Current live weight = 320 kg; Expected weight gain at 1kg per day without using supplementary feed shows that there is sufficient pasture to support the weight gain.

This example will require a supplementary feed. Select the Feed 1 icon on the bottom, which will give a range of grains to choose from. Using Barley at $500/ tonne – the cost and nutritional value is automatically calculated based on feed quality analyses. Select 100% Barley in the Mix tab Under the Livestock tab, for 320kg live weight the calculations show a weight gain of around 240gm per day just on pasture. With the Mix (pasture and Barley) the Livestock tab shows that at least 2.75kg per day of barley per head would be required to achieve 0.8kg weight gain per day.

POOR TROPICAL PASTURE, LOW QUALITY Pasture height 2 cm Pasture density 95% (90% chosen) Pasture quality 57% DMD (55% chosen) Pasture availability 600 kg/DM/Ha




On pasture only, the weight loss is around 700gm per day. Adding Feed 2 as lupins at a cost of $700/tonne, this will bump up the crude protein availability that is deficient in this pasture. Select 80% barley, 20% lupin ratio to give around 15% crude protein. The estimate is for 5.79 kg/day per head of the barley/lupin mix to give the 0.8kg weight gain.




Feed on offer 1,880 kg/ha Digestibility 60% Metabolisable energy 8.7 MJ/kg Crude protein 14% Pasture height 10 cm Pasture density 100%


Feed on offer 1,100 kg/ha Digestibility 61% Metabolisable energy 8.9 MJ/kg Crude protein 21% Pasture height (cm) 2.5 cm Pasture density 100%

Images courtesy of Australian Wool Innovation Ltd

Feed on offer 300 kg/ha Digestibility 66% Metabolisable energy 9.8 MJ/kg Crude protein 24% Pasture height 2 cm Pasture density 100%


Feed on offer 1,380 kg/ha Digestibility 60% Metabolisable energy 8.7 MJ/kg Crude protein 12% Pasture height 2 cm Pasture density 95%

Images courtesy of Australian Wool Innovation Ltd

Feed on offer 580 kg/ha Digestibility 57% Metabolisable energy 8 MJ/kg Crude protein 12% Pasture height 2 cm Pasture density 50%

Feed on offer 1,300kg/ haDigestibility 72% Metabolisable energy 10.8 MJ/kg Crude protein 19% Pasture height 6 cm Pasture density 100%


Feed on offer 2,100 kg/ha Digestibility 73% Metabolisable energy 10.9 MJ/kg Crude protein 11% Pasture height 5 cm Pasture density 100%

Images courtesy of Australian Wool Innovation Ltd

Feed on offer 1,100 kg/ha Digestibility 75% Metabolisable energy 11.2 MJ/kg Crude protein 14% Pasture height 3 cm Pasture density 100%

Feed on offer 3,400 kg/ha Digestibility 85% Metabolisable energy 13.1 MJ/kg Crude protein 26% Pasture height 10 cm Pasture density 100% ISSUE 72 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE







Tuesday 17th September 2019

Top 30% Females, Top 20% Bulls and Genetics


Tuesday 19th November 2019

Top 30% Females, Top 20% Bulls and Genetics


Tuesday 14th March 2019

Top 30% Females, Top 20% Bulls and Genetics


TBC May 2020

Top 5% Females, Bulls and Genetics


Tuesday 14th July 2020

Top 30% Females, Top 20% Bulls and Genetics




TOP GENETICS REWARD CAREFUL PLANNING ELITE WAGYU NATIONAL SALE AN INTERNATIONAL EVENT The AWA Elite Wagyu Sale is now proving to be an international event with buyers and sellers from the US, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and the UK taking part through online functionality. It is clear from local and international bidders, that Australia is leading the way in producing in-demand, top genetics for the Wagyu breed. The top priced females for the 2019 Sale made $280,000 and $200,000. Excluding those two, 13 other cows averaged $42,692, while 14 bulls sold on average $25,393. The top three prices in the bulls were $55,000, $52,000 and $50,000. The top price female was a heifer from Mayura Station, South Australia by the famous sire Itoshigenami Jnr, and was bought by a US Consortium headed up by Brian Stamps, also snapping up the top price semen at $6,730 per straw from Macquarie M0546, a high performing son of Y408. The other high flyer was a Trent Bridge cow, PTIC to a son of Y408. Trent Bridge K0034 is just under five years and by a home bred sire in TB F0126 and has a double cross of Itoshigenami TF148. Her credentials are based on her marbling data for marble score and marble fineness, placing her as the top female with MS 2.4 and MF 0.48. Being in calf to a son of Y408 will make the calf something

special. She was purchased by the under bidders of the Mayura heifer, Geneflow, who are new entrants in the IVF embryo industry. What puts these genetics in the top 5% and how did the vendors achieve such stellar results? There are commonalities between the vendors, Scott deBruin at Mayura Station, Charlie Perry at Trent Bridge and Anthony Winter at Macquarie Wagyu, in that data and benchmarking is the key to identifying which animals have the greatest potential. Breeding decisions are determined more often than not, by the objective of the production system – whether it is into F1, seedstock or Fullblood/Purebred beef where consistency, BreedObject $Indexes and EBVs for a range of traits may be the driver for genetic selection. For Mayura Station, the focus is on the quality of beef produced, so many of the breeding decisions are aimed at continual improvement in carcase quality. Trent Bridge is principally a seedstock producer, but also recognises that beef production is an important source of revenue for the business and as such strive toward breeding decisions that improve both genetics and beef quality. The Macquarie Wagyu business focuses on both beef production through their feedlot and also seed stock production. ISSUE 72 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE


Data analysis is the underlying theme for all three businesses, regardless of herd size from Mayura’s 8,000 head through to Trent Bridge’s 300 head. Each business regularly collects data on all available traits and assesses the relative merit of each trait based on their objectives. In-house analysis, combined with benchmarking though BREEDPLAN EBVs and Indexes, provides critical tools to compare data to make informed decisions. In Mayura’s case, the substantially larger herd provides significant carcase data, however, the Trent Bridge advantage of a smaller herd enables a personal review of individual animal performance, particularly maternal traits that are important for seedstock herd development. Macquarie Wagyu, sits somewhere in the middle, with data analysis a key element as well as in-paddock assessments. The 2019 Elite Wagyu National Sale, was only open to genetics that qualified for the top 5% of the breed according to BREEDPLAN data. The three top Lots were considered by the vendors to be outliers and had one of the highest genetic potentials for their herd, representing not only a commercial reality as business income, but also a representation of the quality of the overall herd and breeding decisions made.





The Mayura Station program focuses on continual improvement in carcase quality, pushing the boundaries of genetic development. Detailed records of all progeny are kept including parentage, genomic information and performance from birth to chiller assessment. The dams identified as producing the top 5% of carcase quality are joined to elite sires through ET programs to improve future generations. The production of herd bulls is performed each year, with males selected from high performance cows. If progeny is in the top 5% of carcase quality then semen is collected to prove up to another level. Benchmarking between successive carcases is vital to assess the results of the proving up program. “When we first got involved in producing Wagyu, we weighed up all the sires and tried to look at all the performance data available – if I use this bull, what is the risk or reward,” said Scott. “No one really could say with any data confidence how the sires would perform, so it

Top genetics reward careful planning had to be based on pedigree until progeny data became available. “With carcase data, it is possible to clearly identify the performance differences between individual animals. One bull might have an average marble score and high carcase weight, while another one is lower in another trait. The higher averages translate into a lower risk proposition when feeding cattle through to slaughter.”

Sire F0126 (a son of Itoshigenami) and Dam FC214, putting her as the top female for marble score EBVs. Pregnant and in calf to Trent Bridge’s N203 (a son of Y408), the $Indexes indicate that the calf will be in the top 1% for the F1 Terminal $Index and the top 5% for Fullblood Terminal $Index.

That is not to say that top Sires do not produce their share of poor performers. For example, if the financial break-even point is a marble score 6, then any progeny below that is considered a ‘fail’. Moving forward Scott sees that the break-even point will continue to increase, as costs of production are continually on the rise. It is critical to be able to identify the top 5% of the herd and continue to work on genetic improvement, this is done most accurately through carcase data. “The Lots offered in the EWS by Mayura are representative of what we have achieved,” said Scott. “N1229 sits high on most EBVs and $Indexes, producing great carcase quality, high carcase weight, eye muscle area and marble score. She has the potential to be a foundation for a herd, the buyer will be able to breed with confidence.”



At Macquarie Wagyu, the focus is to produce animals with wellrounded genetics that provide quality progeny with marbling and carcase weight – temperament for the breeding females comes into the equation as well. Anthony said that the whole operation is based on data collection, performance and carcase traits, where data from both Sire and Dam are considered. The top outliers, those above average are selected for breeding to improve the genetics of successive generations. The remainder are sent through the feedlot system.



The business model for Trent Bridge has three elements: a commercial line of Angus, using top Wagyu bulls for F1 production; seedstock, and Fullblood steer production. As a consequence, breeding decisions differ for each component. For example, the driver for the F1 market is high marbling bulls, but the downside is that these are not always the best maternal females. Moving into the Fullblood steer model in the past 12 months, means that Trent Bridge is relying on the AWA $Indexes to guide breeding decisions in conjunction with what Charlie can see in the paddock.

“We don’t want to produce animals that suit one particular joining, our aim is to have diversity for females, bulls and carcasses,” said Anthony. “Prefecture is not a focus for us, traders and consumers are only interested if it is Fullblood, fine marbling, marble score and eating quality. Our reputation is based on quality animals and carcasses.” In essence, Anthony looks for females that have a good carcase weight and marble score, a good physical structure and data from BREEDPLAN to support the assessment. The Sale of semen straws from M0546 shows that those decisions have taken the best of Sire and Dam genetics to give high marble scores and carcase weight, with strong maternal bloodlines.

“A key component of how we operate is data analysis to underpin our decisions,” said Charlie. “I like to correlate the data with what I can physically observe in the paddock. The AWA $Indexes are useful to sort the top performing animals to the top of list, but they (the $Indexes) are a tool, not the rule.” While Trent Bridge are early adopters of new technologies, such as the 50K SNP testing, Charlie says that keeping to core basic cattle expectations and assessments are also important to breeding decisions – did the mum raise a good calf; was it easy calving; is it a good phenotype and structurally sound? In the case of Lot 8 at the EWNS, K0034 is a proven cow, having had two bull calves to date and used for flushing. The breeding decisions to produce K0034 was based on sound genomics in her




Top genetics reward careful planning



THE CONSORTIUM THAT BOUGHT THE TOP HEIFER AND THE SEMEN STRAWS HAVE KINDLY GIVEN THE AWA THEIR THOUGHTS ON THE SALE AND THEIR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE .... The Consortium is very excited about the prospects for the future of Wagyu in Australia, the US, and abroad. The members of the consortium, G$ Ranch / Grasslands Wagyu (Brian Stamps), Heritage Wagyu (Dustin Bright), and Y2 Wagyu (Joshua Yarbrough), were brought together by a common interest in producing Wagyu beef and seedstock from the finest genetics available. The Consortium saw the opportunity to invest in genetics from several of the Australian ranches spearheading breed improvement including Mayura Station, Macquarie Wagyu, and several others. The acquisitions of Mayura N1229 and semen from Macquarie M0546 are the direct result of the efforts of Mayura Station and Macquarie Wagyu to develop top EBV performers with pedigrees backed up with carcase data. Mayura Itoshigenami Jr and Macquarie Y408 represent the pinnacle of next generation development through pedigree analysis, data collection, and carcase results. “We plan to develop progeny from Mayura N1229 paired with Macquarie M0546 in tandem with several additional Australian acquisitions including TYDDEWI N3709, a direct son of Mayura Itoshigenami Jr. over a linebred Hatsuhi dam by Westholme Hiramichi Tsuru, coupled with several heritage Kedaka/Tottori line cows ultimately pairing to our US-based herds comprised of differing combinations of foundation Tajima, Kedaka/Tottori, and Fujiyoshi genetics. A cornerstone of our partnership is 24


growth performance and pounds on the hook in addition to carcase performance. Balancing the right combination of historical performers from each of these prefectural lines is key to not only carcase performance and increased sellable pounds but also increased feed efficiency.

EBV and GBV data in tandem with carcase data is weighed. Nonetheless, we believe that the Australian Wagyu Association and its members can work together through a combination of leadership, membership committees, and industry experts to find the appropriate solutions.

In the current environmental challenges facing Australia and also in the US, increased feed costs have demanded not only shorter finishing periods but also efficiency in conversion of nutrition. We believe that harnessing the power of Kedaka/Tottori genetics in tandem with the right Tajima and Fujiyoshi influences from historical performers can achieve those goals.

In the US, Wagyu is seeing an increase in product placements from regional and national retail chains to development of more personal ranch to restaurant partnerships focused on quality. Seedstock sales have seen decreased averages at auction mirroring decreases in cattle market conditions after the historical highs attributed to several years ago, however, well-bred animals still garner a significant premium.

In Australia, record pricing can be attributed to multiple factors including EBV development and successful implementation, data tracking to further EBV adjustments and accuracy, an active Association developing cutting edge programs such as the MIJ-30 carcase camera initiative to objectively collect carcass data, and most importantly a willing membership not only collecting the data on progeny but also adjusting pairings to reflect performance data when standouts are identified. As a result, herd BMS averages have increased, global product placement has increased, and elite genetics developed through these programs are bringing world record prices. There are still several issues that need to be addressed such as contemporary group manipulation and several foundation EBVs which might warrant a second look in how

One inhibitive factor to upward movement in the marketplace is data. Data collection is the hot topic in the US and the American Wagyu Association is in the final stages of developing EPDs to be rolled out in the near future. Reciprocity between both the American Wagyu Association and the Australian Wagyu Association in collection and sharing of data will serve to more accurately reflect the true EBV/EPD performance in the breed. Additionally, increasing the environmental qualities impacting Wagyu data points and broadening the application of Wagyu to the vast US commercial cattle herd will not only push the Wagyu breed closer to a true measure of performance in a shorter period of time but also allow for accuracy across previously isolated subsections of genetics.

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UNDERSTANDING EBV ACCURACY AN IMPORTANT STEP WHEN MAKING BREEDING SELECTION DECISIONS An important step when making selection decisions using BREEDPLAN Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) is the consideration of EBV accuracy. The following information provides a guide to understanding and utilising EBV accuracy and the EBV Accuracy Graph.

WHAT IS EBV ACCURACY AND HOW IS IT REPORTED? An EBV is an estimate of the animal’s genetic merit for a trait based on all the information currently available. The “accuracy” figure in an animal’s EBV table gives a confidence assessment of how close the estimate is to the true breeding value for a trait. Accuracy figures are reported as a percentage (%) between 0 – 99. In most cases where an EBV is presented, the accuracy of the EBV will be reported in either the column immediately following or the row beneath the EBV. The accuracy figure of each EBV is a reflection of the amount and quality of information used in the calculation of that EBV. As more data gets analysed for the animal, its progeny or its relatives, the accuracy will increase and the EBV will change, moving up or down as the estimate approaches the true breeding value. As the accuracy increases, the likelihood and amount of possible change in the animal’s EBV decreases. This means you can have greater confidence that EBVs with high accuracy figures will be a closer estimate of the animal’s true breeding value than EBVs with lower accuracy figures.

WAGYU EBV ACCURACY GRAPH Estimated Breeding Values for traits change as new information, such as genomics or performance data, is added to Wagyu BREEDPLAN by AWA members. More information submitted to BREEDPLAN enables better estimation of the genetic merit of animals. Understanding EBV accuracy allows you to know the maximum likely change that may occur to an animal’s EBVs. Within Wagyu BREEDPLAN, this is provided within the EBV Accuracy Graph for every animal. The EBV Accuracy Graph shows the change (confidence range) that could be expected in an animal’s EBVs for each trait at the current accuracy. In statistical terms, the horizontal coloured bar for each trait displays one standard deviation either side of the current EBV value. Based on this statistical definition, there is a 68% likelihood that the true breeding value for this trait will be within the range displayed.



The relatively high accuracies of a Sire.





+1.5 +11 +16 +9 +13









86% 93% 95% 95% 79% 73% 65%









The following guide is recommended when interpreting accuracy


50 - 74% ACCURACY

75 - 90% ACCURACY






In this accuracy range the EBVs could change substantially as more direct performance information becomes available on the animal

EBVs will usually have been calculated based on the animal’s genomic data and/or own performance and some pedigree information

EBVs will have usually been calculated based on the animal’s genomic data and/or own performance coupled with the performance for a small number of the animal’s progeny

EBVs are an estimate of the animal’s true breeding value. It's unlikely that EBVs with this accuracy will change much with addition of more progeny data


PROVEN SIRE Figure 2 shows the possible change a Proven Sire with substantial

Gest. length longer heavier

+ 9.7

+0.2 +1.0














performance records and higher EBV

Birth Wt 200-Day Wt lighter

+10.4 -26


accuracies compared to the Young

400-Day Wt lighter



Animal with fewer performance records

600-Day Wt







Mat. cow Wt











-6.2 -90

the Young Animal reflecting the higher

Carcase Wt lighter Eye Muscle Area smaller

accuracy of the EBV for the proven sire.

and lower EBV accuracies. The width of the horizontal coloured bars for the Proven Sire is narrower than that of

The middle point on the graph is the breed average for each trait and is the number given in light grey text above

sits relative to the breed average. The animal’s current EBV is the value in the middle of the horizontal coloured bar. The accuracy for each trait is displayed in the far-right column of the graph. The Proven Sire and Young Animal examples given in Figure 2 both have a Marble Score EBV of +0.6. It is clear the possible change in the Proven Sire’s EBV is significantly less that that of

+16 +9 +13

















Rump Fat







Retail Yield







Marble Score







Marble Fineness






Gest. length



Scrotal Size


-0.4 +10

+3.2 +1.6






horizontal coloured bar therefore gives a true breeding value of the animal



each horizontal bar. The location of the visual indication of where the expected


+ 9.7




200-Day Wt




400-Day Wt



600-Day Wt



Birth Wt heavier

+10 +11












44% 42%

-0.1 +0.5 +12











Mat. cow Wt


















Scrotal Size


Carcase Wt Eye Muscle Area smaller








Rump Fat leaner



Retail Yield




Marble Score



Marble Fineness



















+1.9 +1.4

-0.2 +0.6 +0.18

the Young Animal. The true breeding value of the Proven Sire is expected to


be between +0.3 and +0.9 compared to

EBV Accuracy Graph for an example Proven Sire and Young Animal.

-0.5 and +1.5 for the Young Animal.

Yellow bars are calving traits Green bars are growth traits Red bar is a fertility trait Blue bars are carcase traits





A range of factors can influence the accuracy of an EBV THE ACCURACY OF THE PARENTS An animal with high accuracy sire and/or dam will generally have higher accuracy EBVs compared to an animal with parents with lower accuracy. THE AMOUNT OF PERFORMANCE INFORMATION AVAILABLE EBV accuracies will increase as more performance data is supplied by breeders and is analysed for a specific trait. This includes performance data on the animal itself (eg, its 200-day weight record). Submitting the performance data of an animal’s progeny will also impact the EBV and its accuracy. EFFECTIVENESS OF PERFORMANCE INFORMATION Animals whose performance data is collected in large contemporary groups will generally have higher EBV accuracy compared to those in small or single animal contemporary groups. GENETIC CORRELATION WITH OTHER MEASURED TRAITS BREEDPLAN analyses many traits and their relationship to each other allowing for calculations of EBVs and its accuracy. For example, recording weaning weight will also add information to the 400 Day Weight EBV. Therefore, herds that are recording a range of traits (e.g. calving ease, several weights, fertility, carcase) will have higher EBV accuracies than a herd that has limited recordings (e.g. weaning weights only). THE HERITABILITY OF A TRAIT The higher the heritability of a trait, the bigger the impact that performance data has on the EBV accuracy. This is simply because the performance record is likely to be more reflective of the genetic potential of the animal. Growth and carcase traits tend to have higher heritability, whereas maternal traits tend to have lower heritability. AVAILABILITY OF GENOMIC DATA Genomic data is used in the Wagyu Breedplan analysis. Animals with 50K tests done will have higher EBV accuracy figures when compared to those animals without a 50K test.





How to find the EBV Accuracy Graph from a BREEDPLAN animal search

Every animal in Wagyu BREEDPLAN where EBVs are given, will have an EBV Accuracy Graph. To find this graph conduct a Wagyu Animal Search and open the Animal Details page. At the bottom of the information field click the “View” Button next to the “EBV Graph” title – as shown in Figure 3a. The next page that is presented is the EBV Percentile Graph for the animal, which shows how the animal’s EBVs compare to the breed average. The link to the EBV Accuracy Graph is below the EBV Percentile Graph – click on ‘Switch Graph” – see below example.


FIGURE 3B How to find the Switch Graph button

Once you click on the “Switch Graph” button, the EBV Accuracy Graph will display for the animal of interest – see figure 3C overpage. For this well-known Sire (more than 5,000 progeny recorded in BREEDPLAN), the EBV Accuracy Graph demonstrates that this animal has lower than average EBVs for growth traits, but higher than average for carcase traits (except for carcase weight), with narrow accuracy ranges for all traits, giving high confidence in the EBVs.

Understanding EBV accuracy

FIGURE 3C Displaying the EBV Accuracy Graph

ACCURACY AND SELECTION DECISIONS Although the accuracy of an EBV should be considered, animals should generally be compared on EBVs regardless of accuracy as the EBVs are still the best estimate of an animal’s breeding value. In the case where animals have similar EBVs, the animal with the higher accuracy might be preferable because the results can be predicted with more confidence and less risk. However, the animal with the lower accuracy may in future – with more data - end up with a higher (or lower) EBV than the high accuracy animal. If producers prefer to minimise risk, consideration should also be given to: »» Undertaking a higher level of performance recording across a range of traits and managing their seedstock herd to maximise contemporary group size. »» A genomic test (50K SNPs) on breeding animals. »» Sourcing bulls, females and genetics (e.g. semen, embryos) from herds with a history of performance recording. »» Using high accuracy proven sires (e.g. AI sires) or dams. »» Spreading the risk of using younger, lower accuracy animals by utilising a team of young bulls rather than just one bull.




For a country that prides itself on producing the best beef in the world, Wagyu, it is interesting to learn that Japan traditionally a Buddhist nation, was principally a vegetarian society. Eating beef is a relatively new phenomenon and recent trends suggest it is likely to grow in popularity. Fish and rice for centuries formed the backbone of protein consumption in Japan, with pork and poultry close behind. The consumption of beef was virtually non-existent until the mid to late 1800s. Fast forward to post World War II and the consumption of beef starts to take a noticeable upward trend as farmers moved away from cattle as beasts of burden and discover the qualities of highly marbled beef, especially Wagyu. Given the historical disinclination to eat beef, it was considered a luxury item to be used sparingly, iconic dishes such as shabu shabu, gyudon and sukiyaki are a case in point. In the modern era, this is still often the case. Since the Japanese market liberalisation that saw greater imports of Western food and culture, there is a noticeable trend toward greater beef consumption and how it is consumed. Steak restaurants and fast food burger outlets are becoming more prolific around the country with McDonalds and MOS Burgers accounting for around 4,000 outlets between them. Japanese meat trader and commentator, Bully Kohno says that higher grade domestically produced Wagyu is likely to be directed toward food service specialising in traditional Japanese cuisine, while the imported beef is more often seen in barbecue and steak houses. In the 2018 Gain Report, produced by the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, decreases in domestic dairy cattle slaughter has been offset by Wagyu and F1 numbers on shorter feed times down from 30 months to 28 months of age in order to increase the number of 30


new calves at lower prices. Across all beef production it is more likely to steady at 470,000 million tonnes based on heavier carcase weights. The report also indicates that household consumption of beef accounts for around 30% of total beef consumption and will continue to trend upward. “Monthly per-capita table consumption of beef as of March 2018 was 7.2 percent above 2017. Japanese consumers continue to demonstrate a growing preference for imported red meat which is less expensive and less fatty than domestic beef. The “meat boom” which swept over Japan in 2017 has continued to drive beef consumption in 2018 in both retail and foodservice, particularly in meat pubs and standup steak restaurants. Many meat pubs encourage customers to photograph the different cuts before they are cooked and post the photos on social media to generate interest. With consumer trends continuing to support red meat consumption, FAS/Tokyo maintains its projection for total beef consumption in 2018 at 1.315 million MT. “ More Japanese consumers are demanding leaner meats, particularly younger generations and as a consequence the Japanese beef industry is shifting to a focus on A3 graded beef – more economical, efficient production – rather than the higher IMF of A5. According to Andrew Cox, MLA specialist for Japan and Korea at the 2019 WagyuEdge: Building Integrity Conference, other drivers influencing consumer beef choices include the rise of how consumers buy their food, transitioning away from the traditional wet market to more western-style supermarkets. Convenience of food preparation is another. Status and rising affluence are other key drivers along with the phenomenon of ‘conspicuous consumption’.

The belief is that Wagyu is the highest quality beef and represents a fantastic opportunity for producers ... MLA suggest household incomes greater than US$35,000 are more likely to consume beef, while Wagyu is more likely to be attractive to those with more than US$50,000 income per year. In 2017, the number of households with that higher income was 12.6 million. Research shows that when consumers are prepared to pay a premium price for Australian beef, taste, quality, freshness, animal welfare and environmental and sustainability credentials are important. “The belief is that Wagyu is the highest quality beef and represents a fantastic opportunity for producers,” said Andrew. “As affluence rises, consumers no longer just buy on need for family, they are more likely to seek products that align with social and personal values.”

KEY FACTS »» 39% of all food products produced or sourced locally »» Ageing population

The MLA Market Snapshot for Japan suggest that while population growth may be flatlining, affluence will continue to increase, giving market opportunity for more premium products, including Wagyu. The growth of households earning more than US$50,000 is forecast to increase to 17.7 million by 2021. For Japanese consumers the demand for high quality food products gives opportunity for Australian Wagyu producers to provide a premium product that comes with many of the credentials demanded for a premium product. Australia is well placed to take advantage with Wagyu in terms of social status associated with Wagyu, and Australia’s reputation for freshness, traceability and ‘clean and green’.

»» 96% live in urban areas »» Beef herd in decline »» Wagyu beef domestic production has declined by nearly 14% between 2011 and 2016 »» Beef consumption per capita (2018): 10kg »» Australian Beef imports (2017): 292,364 tonnes swt (chilled 30%, frozen 18%) »» Cuts: manufacturing: 39%; brisket: 15%; loin: 8%; silverside: 7%, other: 31% »» 12.6 million people in Japan earn more than US$50,000 »» Imported Wagyu cannot be marketed in Japan as Wagyu – it needs to be labelled as Australian Premium Beef


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Livestock transport provides the link between the care on-farm and the processor, and given that Wagyu has a promise of big rewards if everything is right with the end product, it is worth every penny to ensure that cattle arrive safe and sound. The transportation of cattle is well regulated through animal welfare standards (Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines Land Transport of Livestock) and the trucking industry to ensure that the cattle are fit to load, have appropriate food, water and rest while on the road. However, the chain of responsibility extends beyond the truck driver to include the farmer (consignor) and the receiver. Recently updated, the Fit to Load guide clarifies the roles of actors in the chain of responsibility, clearer checklists for livestock to determine if it is fit to load, management of effluent, loading densities and protocols for euthanasia. In essence, the Fit to Load guide is to protect cattle ‘from pain, injury or distress ... to achieve positive welfare outcomes for animals. Should the person in charge be found to be transporting an animal that is unfit, it is regarded as an act of cruelty'. Johnston’s Livestock Transport has been involved with the transportation of Wagyu cattle since the early pioneering days of Dougal Cameron at Aronui, and understands just what is at stake. As a transporter and backgrounder, George Johnston has seen both sides of the fence and knows that good handling and transport can make the difference between a top animal and a downgraded carcase due to issues such as dark cutting as a result of stress. “The meat and fat colour suffer and you get dark cutters, which is the outcome of stress,” said George. “If the meat or fat colour is downgraded, it means the carcase price goes down. With Wagyu you can’t afford to have that, it is important to minimise the amount of stress by having the animal well-handled and prepared before transport as well as the care we give while on the road.” During the past 30 years, George has seen a lot of improvements in how the industry regards animal welfare and safe working environments for stock and cattlemen. Changes to the size of the gate on the truck to full width to prevent cattle from bruising as 32


Judd Bros Transport

they embark; stockyard design to protect animals and handlers from injury and the trucks themselves have also seen marked improvement in terms of loading ramps, chassis suspension and animal comfort. Familiarisation of the stockyards, other cattle and strangers are all part of the pre-transport tactics that need to be employed before the truck arrives, so that the cattle are as relaxed as possible. “With Wagyu, if they have been fed for 300-400 days on farm, they can develop soft feet, so a walk to the stockyards can be uncomfortable and exhausting. As a driver, there is very little we can do for the cattle if they are not well rested before loading.” The Fit to Load guide and the Standards outline the loading density for a 12.5 x 2.4m deck as 18 head, averaging 650kg. As George points out, Wagyu are a bigger animal meaning that a smaller number are carried on each deck. At an average of 800kg per animal, George works to seven per pen to allow them enough room to lie down and to get up again. Variations in State legislation for heavy loads means it is better to err on the low side. It is not uncommon for George and his team to travel huge distances to transport Wagyu from the farm to the processor of feedlot, meaning that pre-planning of rest stops is important, particularly as the maximum time in one spell is up to 14 hours (roughly 1600km). For example, a trip from Western Australia is broken into 1000km journeys with pre-arranged stops in Kalgoorlie, South Australia and New South Wales before arriving in Queensland. The trailers are designed to give the cattle as comfortable a ride as possible – non-slippery floors, ventilated to manage heat, ability to keep the cold out should it turn chilly in the desert nights, no gaps in the walls for limbs to protrude and sawdust on the floor for bedding. George’s drivers check on the cattle regularly to ensure that they are not showing any signs of illness or distress and encourage them onto their feet to keep circulation going. Effluent is collected in tanks for later disposal – gone are the days of letting it leak out of the truck during the journey. During a five-hour transit period, an animal can lose about 30% of its body weight in effluent – about 150kg for an 800kg beast. With increased cattle numbers concentrated at the abattoir and

Upgrades to the business to cover Wagyu and Johnstons Livestock Transport

also silage haulage now means Stuart runs 14 decks – including retrofitting effluent tanks

processor, the issue of effluent management is becoming significant. For many, effluent needs to be managed to minimise contamination to local waterways, particularly in more urban areas. Dispersion of effluent is often undertaken as fertiliser for neighbouring pasture, or in the case of Oakey Beef, used in the generation of biogas to lower the facility’s overall energy budget. Another transporter who has been around Wagyu for eons is Judd Bros Transport – most know them better as Maydan Livestock Transport, previously owned by Geoff Willett. As a transport company, Stuart Judd was

primarily involved in moving silage to the feedlot, until Geoff persuaded Stuart to take on the Wagyu transport business when he retired four years ago. Judd Bros now move Wagyu from the feedlot to the abattoir – short distances in the scheme of things, but the care and responsibility to the animals is by no means less than that carried out by George. Stuart readily admits that the feedlotters are very good at ensuring the cattle are well rested and relaxed prior to transport to minimise any stress. Key messages from Stuart align with those of George, in that Wagyu cattle are bigger and slower, meaning that they are relatively easy to handle compared to other breeds, but seven to eight per pen is the maximum for the animals to be comfortable.

to meet the new Fit to Load requirements. “Dumping sites for effluent are virtually non-existent on the road,” said Stuart. “If you go into feedlots around Brisbane, you can cop a clean-up cost and risk being black-listed if there is an effluent spill at an abattoir. Having an effluent tank on the truck is likely to be legislated in Queensland in the near future.” The Fit to Load updates give clearer meaning to established practices, but as George and Stuart said, with Wagyu, that care is important to ensure a quality end product. As a consequence, the care that drivers give, to the farmer and the cattle, means that the animal arrives at its destination is fit for purpose and is in as good a condition as possible.

LENDARLOU WAGYU DOES IT AGAIN AT THE RNA PADDOCK TO PALATE 2019 Enquire about up and coming Genetics Embryo’s for sale


Champion Carcase 2 Years in a row

L.A & D.L Henschell Darren Henschell 0429 913 312 • e: dazza_h@icloud.com ISSUE 72 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE


PROCESS AND PROTOCOL TO EXPORT WAGYU GENETICS GETTING THE PAPERWORK IN ORDER Rates of artificial breeding in Wagyu are higher than in other beef breeds across domestic and international markets. For international markets, protocol and process needs to be observed from collection through to shipment and the specifications vary from country to country. Collection centres such as Rocky Repro, CedWise AB Services and Genetic Edge have been in the bovine reproduction material collection industry for many years and are well versed in the protocols and are accredited for exporting Wagyu genetics. According to Ced Wise, the collection of semen and embryos from Fullblood Wagyu genetics has seen an upswing in recent years, constituting around 30% of the company’s collections and growing, and a marked shift away from other breeds such as Hereford and Brahman. How much

goes to international markets is difficult to determine, as many Wagyu breeders will keep the reproductive material for domestic use, but may sell internationally at a later date. The international protocols for shipment of semen and embryos are based on guidelines from the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), but vary from country to country in terms of diseases to be checked for, documentation and how the animal is handled before collection. In most cases, the collection centre and the vet performing the procedures need to be accredited with Australian and destination country regulatory authorities. Most destination countries require identification of the animal in order to give traceability of the semen or embryos – registration and DNA testing with the AWA is therefore providing a secondary purpose to establishing pedigree.

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Bovine tuberculosis

On farm, within 28 days before quarantine, and annually at the collection centre

Bovine brucellosis

On farm, within 28 days before quarantine, and 21 days after admittance and annually at the collection centre

Enzootic bovine leucosis

On farm, within 28 days before quarantine, and annually at the collection centre


On farm, within 28 days before quarantine, and 21 days after admittance and annually at the collection centre


On farm before and within the 28 day quarantine, 21 days after admittance and prior to the first dispatch of semen and annual check of the collection centre

Campylobacter fetusssp. Venerealis

Quarantine 17 days after admittance, on centre annually

Trichomonas foetus

Quarantine 17 days after admittance, on centre annually

EHD (all serotypes present in Australia)

On-centre, per consignment, serological tests within 12 months and less than 21 days since collection OR at intervals no more than 60 days apart OR virus isolation test every 7 days or 28 days during the collection period

Bluetongue *

Animals kept in a blue-tongue virus free zone 60 days prior to collection OR kept at collection centre without bluetongue OR ongoing testing

The Department of Agriculture states that “it is your responsibility to contact officials of the importing country for specific importing country requirements. Some countries issue an import permit that has the importing requirements appended or referenced… These can be found using our Manual of Importing Country Requirements MICoR Live Animals.


… As importing country’s requirements can change without notice, it is your responsibility to verify that the requirements to which you are working are current and correct.”

Semen is deemed to be more at risk of carrying disease than embryos and consequently has higher protocols. The EU has one of the highest levels of protocols and may form a benchmark for other countries. It is important for the collection centre to be up to date with protocols at the time of collection. The list of diseases to be tested for the EU

* Note It is important to understand that this is for information only and does not constitute the full EU protocol for diseases. Please check with the collection centre for the most recent protocols.



Process and protocol to export Wagyu genetics

is extensive, but in comparison, the South African protocol requires that Leptospira and Johne’s Disease be tested for. The ‘bluetongue line’ of northern Australian collection centres prevents export to the EU and China. The methodology of collecting semen is relatively straightforward, but embryos require a longer preparation time as the cows are given a hormone treatment to stimulate follicle growth and ovulation where the cow is then serviced by a bull or via artificial insemination. Both the cow and bull need to be qualified for export for the embryo to qualify. According to Rick Hunter at Genetic Edge Australia (the genetic collection business arm of Bald Ridge Wagyu) each Wagyu cow responds differently to the treatment and experience with each animal is more of an indication of success than science. At Rocky Repro, the team find that collecting Wagyu genetics achieves greater results as they are fertile and easy to handle. Repeat collection of semen, is largely dependent on the individual bull and his capacity to produce semen. Collection of embryos can be carried out approximately every six weeks under hormone treatment, but it is advisable to allow the cow to be in calf after every three stimulated collections to ‘to reset her body clock into a natural cycle’. Collected semen and embryos are treated with cryoprotectant to prepare the material 36


for freezing and placed in 0.25ml straws before immersion into liquid nitrogen. Once frozen, provided the temperature remains constant, semen and embryos can be stored indefinitely.

THE EXPORT PROCESS When making the decision to export Wagyu genetics, Rick said it was imperative to have a firm contract in place before going down the path of collection. It is also strongly recommended that full PV, genomic DNA testing and registration has been undertaken to identify the animal, but also worthwhile in terms of verifying the quality of the genetics for the buyer. Once the contract is established, the paperwork needed to support the export may include donor health status, the status of the collection centre; who performed the collection and the procedures used to store the genetic material. Collection centres are also regularly audited to ensure compliance with the destination country protocols. Lodgement of a Notice of Intent must be provided in full at least 10 working days before the intended date of export, to avoid delays of shipment.

HOW IT WORKS »» Choose a collection centre that is accredited for the destination country – and that the vet is also accredited »» Place the animal in quarantine at the collection centre for the specified period

outlined by the destination country protocol. (Some vendors have animals permanently residing at the collection centre) »» Collection and freezing of genetic material »» Health declaration to be produced on diseases »» Prepare a Notice of Intent to export with the Department of Agriculture with the Health Declaration and supporting documentation »» Sign-off from Department of Agriculture that confirms the identification of the (frozen) genetic material and supporting documentation »» Issue of Export Permit given by Department of Agriculture »» Shipment to export shipping company – who needs to be accredited to undertake the task Some genetic collection centres have the capacity to export directly, but for those who do not, contracting an accredited freight forwarder will be needed. There are only a handful qualified to do so in Australia. Genetic material housed in liquid nitrogen is considered a ‘dangerous good’ so the freight forwarder will need to prepare the export documentation and ensure that the genetic material is transported in safe containers for its dangerous good status.

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: www.australianwagyuforum.com.au Prices: Domestic Semen Prices: $AUD45 - $AUD65 per Unit. International Pricing & Availability: POA

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KILL THE CATTLE PARASITES THAT COUNT Cooperia spp. infections can decrease 1 average daily weight gain by 7.5% Cooperia spp. (Small Intestinal worm) is the most prevalent worm type in Australia.


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1. Kloosterman A, Albers G, van den Brink R. Negative interactions between Ostertagia ostertagi and Cooperia oncophora in calves. Veterinary Parasitology. Vet Parasitology 1984; 15: 135–150. 2. Australian national average of FEC results from 70,000 dung samples. Wormtrax™ - wormtrax.com.au *Refer to product label for registered claims.

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VICTORIA VALLEY MEATS BRINGS THE FLEXIBILITY ADVANTAGE SMALLER OPERATION FOR GREATER SERVICE In an era where many abattoirs have closed their doors, and many more won’t do smaller contract kills, it is becoming increasingly difficult for small volume producers to process their animals. It is therefore gratifying that smaller operators, such as Victoria Valley Meats, have embraced the smaller producer, using their flexibility as their point of difference to bigger operators. The site of Victoria Valley Meats, now owned by Central Agri Group, in Trafalgar, Victoria has had a long history as an abattoir for domestic kills, providing a service to local producers that their nearest competitors would not ordinarily provide. It’s closure in 2011 was certainly a blow to the local community, not just for producers but also as an employer. Central Agri Group, is a global exporter of Halal certified meats and by-products, with five state-of-the-art facilities around the country, including Esperance and the recently commissioned abattoir at Batchelor, south of Darwin. A dedicated boning room in Coolaroo, north of Melbourne and a valueadd facility in the inner suburb Brunswick of Melbourne complete the outfit.

The Group took ownership of the Trafalgar site in 2014, gutting the facility with the aim of constructing an abattoir with Tier 2 status to cater for the extensive Halal export market into South East Asia, Middle East, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. The site was fully commissioned in 2016 and is also accredited for export to Malaysia. The abattoir has a capacity of 220 head per day, and about 1200 per week, with one slaughter shift and two boning shifts per day. The majority of cattle are sourced through over the hook and saleyards, the remainder are small, contract kills. Wagyu currently accounts for about 40 head per month. There are number of reasons why the company is attractive for contract kills, the first is relatively obvious – it’s a shorter distance for Victoria, South Australia and southern NSW producers;, but the biggest drawcard is flexibility. A prime example is Oasis Wagyu. Based in Gippsland, owner Sharon Oates utilises Victoria Valley Meats for contract kills. In a conversation with a delegation at the Adelaide 2019 annual conference from Namibia about how the MIJ-30 camera worked, Sharon was able to organise for the

Inverary process around 30 Wagyu a month, expanding to 100/month by the end of the year, said that VVM give them the confidence they need to establish a vertically integrated operation.



Victoria Valley Meats brings the flexibility advantage

camera to be used on three of her steers at Victoria Valley Meats, while the delegation watched the event unfold. A spur of the moment request to buy a side of Wagyu by the visitors saw the staff organise an export permit and packing. On the spot. As a consequence, Oasis Wagyu now has a business relationship with Namibia, due largely to the flexibility of Victoria Valley Meats to allow visitors and producers to oversee the process and to change tack at a moment’s notice. Plant manager, Colin Reidy, says that producers are welcome to oversee the processing of their cattle, and the design of the operation is such that the whole process can be viewed from one location, from entry into the knocking box through to boning. It also means that full traceability is possible for every single cut and carcase. “Wagyu producers in particular, want to know exactly how their carcase has turned out,” says Colin, “and by allowing the producer to be onsite, if the marbling is not as expected, we can work with them to change the cut plan, the end customer, or whatever they need to do to realise the best potential from that carcase. From our point of view, it is not a problem.” Victoria Valley Meats are well aware of the needs of Wagyu, down to running a different chiller profile to make the most of grading of the intramuscular fat, as well as having the capacity to separate Wagyu out from the over the hook carcases. In addition, during the construction phase, the company had the foresight to include rails that can cope with larger carcase weights and lengths, which many older abattoirs are 40


Grading with the MIJ camera with visitors from Namibia has given Oasis Wagyu another market opportunity

not able to accommodate. For Inverary Station, the care and attention that Victoria Valley Meats has towards Wagyu means that each carcase is likely to reach its full potential. Care of the animals on arrival, recovery time, handling at the knocking box all contribute to the final marble score, as does the chill process, by a difference of as much as 1.5 marble score according to Iverary principal Angus McClure. The attention given to his Wagyu cattle has meant that yield has also been better than most abattoirs, as much as 10% more. “The facility, the skillset, the rapport with the owners and the staff and the flexibility of the slaughter, boning and fabrication process all adds to Inveraray Station's ability to maximise the full potential value of the Wagyu carcase,” said Angus. The range of accreditation that Victoria Valley Meats has, enables Inverary to develop niche customers virtually

around the world, for primal cuts and value-add retail ready products. Inverary currently supplies a number of premium supermarkets with product such as burgers, to make the most of trim and secondary cuts, that may not ordinarily have a market, making use of the Central Agri Group Brunswick facility. Moving forward, Central Agri Group’s aim is to improve productivity and to lower their footprint with technologies such as solar energy and improved wastewater management and a shift toward servicing international premium beef markets. “We are not focusing on being a large operator, but our flexibility through adopting new technologies means that we can work directly with the producer to get the best possible outcome,” says Colin. “Track and trace, carcase data, Halal approved processes, are all part of our program to ensure that premium beef producers get the very best possible care.”



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The Wagyu Branded Beef Competition has now celebrated seven years since its inception in 2012 and continues to be one of the most reputable branded beef competitions in Australia, and one of the few endorsed by a breed association. For Brand owners, the signature event provides endorsement of Wagyu genetics and recognition of quality product for existing clients and awareness for those new to the product. An initiative of the Australian Wagyu Association Board, it was felt that such a competition would be appropriate for members and brand owners to promote Wagyu, given the success it was already seeing in competitions such as the EKKA branded beef competition. It was the EKKA competition that original founder of the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition, Lachie Hart developed the protocols around. Recognising that the EKKA competition was a stringent and objective process, using the same cut of steak, preparation and cooking procedures. The key difference was in the judging, where the EKKA used wellknown personalities to join the panel, Lachie chose to go with experienced palates who understood what it meant to critically assess food. The inaugural Chief Steward was Russell Smith, an internationally respected judge in cheeses and wines.

“The idea was to profile the brands of Wagyu in an Association-endorsed branded beef competition,” said Lachie Hart, 2017 Wagyu Hall of Fame recipient, managing director of Stockyard Beef and who was a director of AWA at the time. “At the time there were already beef classes of branded beef in the various state-based Royal Shows, but usually combined with entries from other breeds or feeding regimes such as Angus or grass fed. As a consequence, those that had Wagyu genetics nearly always won. Many of the Royal Shows have since introduced a separate class specifically for Wagyu.” The result of the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition has been very positive – from a media perspective and the number of entries that continues to rise with each successive year and with the reputation of the event growing. Beginning with a modest 13 entries in 2012, to more than 30 in 2019, the competition began with three classes: Fullblood, Crossbred and Pasture-fed, to reflect the typical production systems of the day. The Gourmet Sausage class was added in 2014 in an effort to attract uptake from the butcher and retail sector. The Pasture-fed class was replaced by Commercial in 2017 as the consistency achieved by commercial

production systems of marble score 5-7 was more reliable than pasture with its seasonal vagaries. The last Pasture-fed Class was held in 2016, with no medal winners. “The beauty of the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition is that it is open to producers who may not own a brand. By aligning with a brand owner to process and package the product, producers can gain a profile of their genetics alongside their brand owner peers,” said Lachie. A case in point is Darren Hamblin at Strathdale, who has won a number of gold medals throughout the years, and achieved the Champion trophy for the 2019 competition in the Crossbred Class. From a marketing perspective, Darren can promote his genetics as a gold winner in the competition, thereby gaining reputation as a quality Wagyu breeder. The accolades and media generated by the Association enables brand owners to leverage their own brand recognition by sharing the win and the social media coverage with their customers, to further extend the endorsement of their quality product to consumers locally and internationally. For Mort & Co, who have entered The Phoenix brand into a number of competitions, winning the overall



The Association is unique in that as a breed society it has a much stronger understanding and representation of being more than just a breed or a beef product, it has been very successful at promoting both ... Lachie Hart

Grand Champion during the 2018 Wagyu Branded Beef Competition validated the breeding, procurement and feeding decisions the company makes every day. “The Wagyu Branded Beef Competition is a highly regarded, well supported and independently run industry competition and the awards carry their weight with our global distributors and end consumers,” said Scott MacDouall, general manager, meat and livestock, Mort & Co, reflecting on last year’s win. “It also helps to differentiate our brand in a highly competitive global market and showcase our Wagyu vendors without whom we could not produce such a high-quality product.” Events such as the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition have continued to lift the bar in terms of beef quality, with the number of entries achieving gold medal scores increasing each year. As a consequence, the drive to improve Wagyu to produce more superior beef has also promoted greater interest in improving genetics. “The Association is unique in that as a breed society it has a much stronger understanding and representation of being more than just a breed or a beef product, it has been very successful at promoting both,” said Lachie. The 2020 Wagyu Branded Beef Competition will be open to entries from December, 2019 and judging to take place in mid-March, 2020. Winners will be announced during the 2020 annual conference.

SEEKING YOUR WAGYU TODAY! Greenham, trusted processors of premium brands have an opportunity for Wagyu suppliers to value-add their cattle on grass without the risk of grain feeding. We are looking for grass fed cows, steers and heifers of all ages and weights.

Specifications 100% Grass Fed Wagyu Minimum F1 Wagyu content, through to FB For highly competitive pricing and flexible grid, please contact our expert team: Victoria/South Australia Adam Pretty – 0417 300 799 New South Wales/Queensland Graeme Pretty – 0418 505 347 Tasmania Gavin Coombe – 0418 639 735

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Competition strengthens brand owner recognition

A brief history of Branded Beef Winners From the early days of the Wagyu Branded Beef Competition, there were entries from well-known and respected brands taking part, including AACo, Mayura Station,


Stockyard Beef, Rangers Valley, Andrews Meat Industries, Mort & Co and Jack’s Creek, all of whom have enjoyed success in most years they have entered. Along

GRAND CHAMPIONS commenced in 2014

2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

Andrews Meat Industries AACo



the way there have also been notable winners including Robbins Island Wagyu, Hamblin Strathdale, Stanbroke and Pardoo Beef Corporation.

MULTIPLE GOLD MEDAL WINNERS 2012 - 2019 across classes 1, 2 and 3 Stockyard Beef ........................ 9 gold medals AACo .......................................... 7 gold medals

Pardoo Beef Corporation

Jack’s Creek ............................. 6 gold medals

Andrews Meat Industries

Mayura Station......................... 6 gold medals

Mort & Co

Rangers Valley......................... 5 gold medals

Mayura Station

Andrews Meat Industries....... 4 gold medals Hamblin Strathdale................. 4 gold medals Mort & Co.................................. 2 gold medals Direct Meat Company ............. 2 gold medals



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Loaded up with low and slow meats for competition at Meatstock. Courtesy Meatstock

Long considered a ‘poor man’s’ meat, brisket is having a resurgence of popularity, largely due to the phenomenal increase in interest of the low and slow barbecue movement. And Wagyu brisket, is rapidly becoming the brisket of choice for the competition scene. Some of Australia’s most noted Wagyu brands are finding that sponsorship of low n slow barbecue teams is good for their Brand.

up. Accredited competitions through the Australasian Barbecue Alliance now see 218 teams competing regularly and social media followers of the organisation sits at 75,000 since its inception five years ago.

The low and slow barbecue movement in Australia, based on the US style, has taken off in just a matter of five years with barbecue competitions and the home cook creating increasing demand at the butcher shop in brisket, beef short ribs, pork ribs and chicken.

»» a relationship with a butcher to provide product who

Recognising the opportunity, branded beef suppliers have jumped on board to supply competition teams through sponsorship to promote awareness of their brand, particularly in Wagyu brisket.

In return, the brand owner receives acknowledgement through social media posts and onsite branding during the competition event. In return, the sponsor helps to promote the team and the butcher, creating heightened awareness through the barbecue community and the retail sector of the brand.

As the name suggests, low and slow barbecue meats are typically cooked at low temperatures (around 120°C) for as long as 12 hours, and it is here that Wagyu brisket produces winning results, as it retains its moisture through the intramuscular fat, giving judges, in one bite, a phenomenal brisket experience. For a competition, most teams use two briskets, typically in the 5-6kg size, to ensure that at least one of them will be good enough for judging. For competition teams, it is not uncommon to spend around $1,200 per event (across all proteins) and with a competition event occurring somewhere in the country nearly every weekend, the cost quickly adds

As a result, many teams work with an experienced low and slow butcher for sponsorship, supply and support and by extension, brand owners. Sponsorship can take different forms: in turn sponsors a team »» direct sponsorship of a team »» sponsoring an event

THE BUTCHER AND THE SPONSOR Kelly’s Meats in the Melbourne suburb of Cranbourne, is one such butcher that sponsors teams for the low and slow barbecue competitions, and in turn is supported by Sher Wagyu. In the three years since manager, Luke Nagel looked into supplying low and slow meat products, demand has gone from near impossible to sell to around 40% of his overall business turnover; of that business he can easily move 20 cartons of Sher Wagyu brisket in the week before a competition. Supporting five teams, Kelly’s Meats provides the cuts ISSUE 72 - THE AUSTRALIAN WAGYU UPDATE


Brisket and brand go hand in hand

Rollin’ Smoke BBQ are sponsored by Jack’s Creek for the brisket category of low and slow barbecue

Jimmy Brisket is sponsored directly by Greenham using Robbins Island Wagyu brisket

needed to give teams a competitive edge, which are not always the same cuts learned by Australian-trained butchers. A classic example, is the Boston Butt, a specialist cut from a pork shoulder that is not common in Australia. “Knowing what the teams need means I can work more closely with the suppliers, like Sher Wagyu for the brisket. To support each other, I will promote the product and the team through my social media, and Sher Wagyu will support the team through theirs. As a consequence, it raises a lot more awareness of their brand which means I sell a lot more of their product through the shop, plus other products while they are here,” said Luke. Sher Wagyu works with around 15 butchers, to give the product a retail presence and has worked with Luke since 2016 specifically for the low n slow competitions. By working with Luke, it enabled a better relationship for the teams through the butcher and consequently, the butcher to Sher Wagyu. “The relationship we have with Luke puts our brand in a positive light within the shop, social media and the competition teams,” said Vicki Sher. “Good communication on a regular basis with Luke has been invaluable. The low n slow barbecue scene has certainly raised the awareness and demand for brisket for a cross section of people who probably had never heard of it a few years ago. It also has extended to other cuts that we have that people are now more willing to try.” The arrangement between Sher Wagyu and Kelly’s Meats is based on a fixed supply volume of Blue Label (Fullblood) and Black Label (crossbred) brisket per year as sponsorship, which Luke then manages through the teams. Promotion for all parties is principally via Instagram and Facebook.

JIMMY BRISKET WENT DIRECT The team, Jimmy Brisket, headed up by James Cameron, had some early successes with Wagyu brisket in the competition world, but understood that by capitalising on his wins, he would be an attractive proposition for brisket sponsorship. The early wins were with Robbins Island Wagyu, distributed by Greenham. A formal proposal, a couple of chats and Greenham was onboard as a sponsor to Jimmy Brisket. As with the Kelly’s Meats teams, specification for the brisket needs to be uniformly flat and around 5-6kg per piece. James worked with Greenham to improve the specification to reduce trim – which was costing him in preparation time and wastage. The direct relationship has enabled both parties to improve 48




Brisket and brand go hand in hand

their game. To honour the sponsorship, James promotes Robbins Island Wagyu through Instagram and flies the flag at all competitions. According to Trevor Fleming, marketing manager at Greenham, the company first promoted their grassfed brand for low n slow brisket, but it soon became apparent that it was no match for long fed or grain fed Wagyu in the brisket category of low n slow competition. As a result, the Robbins Island Wagyu brand is now the primary focus for brisket and the result is a turnaround on which brisket is sent for export and what is kept for the domestic market.

It is certainly clear through anecdotal evidence, increased social media interest and the higher demand locally for low n slow products, that it is still a growing sector.

“For brisket, we were sending 3-4 tonne a week to export, but we can get a better price locally,” said Trevor. “We keep the higher grade for the low n slow cook, and send the smaller briskets to our export markets.” Sponsorship is part of the overall strategy for Greenham to promote brand awareness, and is mostly measured on increased followers and engagement on social media such as Facebook, Instagram and with noted bloggers. “Most of the feedback on how the relationship is going is anecdotal. We will hear from butchers that sales are up, or that an in-store promotion is doing well. Our brands are not available through the supermarkets, so it is important to work with butchers to give them another point of difference. Sponsorship and brand awareness through the low n slow movement is certainly becoming a big part of that effort.”

JACK’S CREEK AND THE EVENT Just as Sher Wagyu and Greenham have noticed the low n slow barbecue scene take off in Australia, so too has Jack’s Creek. However, their approach has not been to sponsor teams, but rather the event itself. In the low n slow barbecue event calendar two major competitions stand out – Meatstock Melbourne in March and Meatstock Sydney in May, where teams travel across the country to compete. The event holds four challenges – low n slow barbecue, steak challenge, butcher wars and for the punters, a sausage throw down. Jack’s Creek have opted to sponsor the steak challenge, providing all the teams with the meats used to compete. The success and feedback is such that sales have increased for Jack’s Creek across all products, encouraging the company to pursue further event sponsorship opportunities. There is merit for Jack’s Creek to sponsor a team and currently an agreement is in place with Rollin’ Smoke BBQ, who compete in 10-15 competitions per year, using the Wagyu brisket. “We have a number of enquiries every month from teams looking for direct sponsorship, but it is easier on everyone for that sponsorship relationship to be handled by a butcher,” says Jack’s Creek marketing manager, Aaron Hofman. Sher wagyu brisket for judging... “Loving the briskets coming out of Sher at the moment! Easily the best wagyu we've ever seen. Will be smashing these bad boys out all year at this rate!” Firehouse Barbecue Team



“It is certainly clear through anecdotal evidence, increased social media interest and the higher demand locally for low n slow products, that it is still a growing sector.”

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Australian Wagyu Update - Issue 72