World Wagyu Congress, World Wagyu Conference & Wagyu Outback Tour

nonenonePhoto of Mercure Capricorn Resort in Yeppoon Queensland Australia

These auspicious events took place in early May 2015 in Yeppoon in Central Queensland, Australia. Seven Wagyu associations attended the inaugural World Wagyu Congress and 400 attended the Gala Dinner during the Conference. 120 climbed on the buses for the tour of the outback.

Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour

10th – 13th May, 2015. Comet/Middlemount/Nebo, Central Queensland, Australia

River Lea, Comet, Queensland.
Bar H Grazing is a family owned and operated Wagyu breeding and production enterprise. One of the early pioneers of the Wagyu industry in Australia, the Wagyu operation commenced in 1991. Que Hornery runs 2,000 Wagyu fullblood and crosses over 20,000 acres of developed scrub, semi-forest and natural grasses. Buffel Grass is predominant with areas of highly desirable Blue Grass along the river country and in heavy black soil pockets. Thirty five paddocks have been fenced into soil types. Weaning weight has averaged above 233 kg over the last 10 years.  Performance by grade is tabled after 300-350 days on feed:

Breed or grade Wean wt Marble HSCW
Angus/Brangus 260 4.5 430.0
Wagyu F1 225 5.3 415.0
Wagyu F2 223 5.4 404.0
Wagyu F3 227 5.1 404.0
Wagyu F4 232 6.0 408.0
Wagyu stud breeders 231 6.1 408.5
AVERAGE 10 years 233 5.4 411.0

In contrast, F1 grass fed steers gave the following results: Value $1,322-$1,802, Hot dressed carcass weight 375.0-383.5 kg, Dentition 4-6, AUS marble score 2-3, Fat 10-13%, Eye muscle area 66-75 mm.

Goonoo Feedlot, AACo, Comet, Queensland
Australia Agricultural Company’s Goonoo Feedlot covers 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres) and incorporates the 3,000 ha feedlot and station, 6,000 ha dryland cropping and 986 ha under irrigation. The 18,000 head feedlot draws F1 or higher Wagyu steers, heifers and cows from AACo’s stations in the Northern Territories and from other long term partners in western and central Queensland. A significant portion of AACo’s branded beef comes from Goonoo and is supplied into the global beef market under the brand names Master Kobe, Takumi Wagyu, Kobe Cuisine and Darling Downs Wagyu. 30-35% of the offtake is graded 9+ and branded as Master Kobe. F1 brand is from marble score 7 or below.
Wagyu bulls undergo a 120 day performance test in one pen which has 4 GrowSafe beds to monitor feed intake for each animal while on test. Efficiency on feed is monitored and elite bulls are subsequently identified after progeny results are analysed.

May Downs Station, Middlemount, Queensland.
Hamblin Pty Ltd run 6,000 head over 45,600 acres. The 40,000 acres at Middlemount that was visited carry 4,000 head. Darren Hamblin applies his engineering background to plan strategically and analyse results to continually improve. Shorthorns have been the major base females and together with Angus total 670 females on the principally Brigalow scrub country with Buffel grass pastures. Fullblood bulls are used on the base dams. All other females are joined either though AI, ET or IVF programs. To ensure continuity of supply, there are two breeding seasons a year. There are 2,525 F1, 1,198 F2, 822 F3 and over 600 F4 Wagyu. Steers and heifers are fed for 450 days in various feedlots on the Darling Downs after entry at around 450 kg liveweight at 16 to 18 months. F1 yield a HSCW average of 460 kg and the F2 through to purebreds average 420 kg.

Old Bombandy Station, Middlemount, Queensland.
Sunland Cattle Company is owned by Paul and Clare Harris. Over 3,000 fullblood and purebred Wagyu run on 27,500 acres on Old Bombandy Station together with another 4,500 Brahman/Droughtmaster/Brangus/Romagnoiua cross cattle. Wagyu bulls are bred from the fullblood herd on 17,000 acre Ten Mile at Marlborough. This year is the first year that all breeding has been by Wagyu bulls. Over time the non-Wagyu cattle will disappear. Wagyu turn-off is sold to feedlots at between 400-450 kg liveweight while the remainder are sold directly to processors at between 450-480 kg. When slaughtered, Wagyu average 8,3 marble score with a carcase weight of 461 kg. This performance from backgrounding on the extensive conditions of Central Queensland which is captured in photos on the tour and shown below is quite remarkable.
Rainfall at Old Bombandy averages 650 millimetres per year and it is in tick country. Cattle graze native species and a mixture of Buffel Grass, Green and Bambatsi Panic, Eurachica and Seca. Carrying capacity has been doubled with the introduction of the legume Leucaena along with a cell grazing system. Despite 23 kilometre frontage to the Isaac River, water is reticulated to cattle over 100 km pipelines to service 29 paddocks, 7 of which are divided into 48 cells.

Tierawomba Station, Nebo, Queensland
Peter and Jane Hughes have links to the land since 1872 and Hughes Pastoral and Georgina Pastoral Company cover 2.4 million acres with over 140,000 head of cattle. Tierawomba Station with 35,000 head of predominantly purebred Wagyu on 120,000 acres. Annual rainfall is around 760 millimetres. Almost all of the Wagyu cattle are sold exclusively to AACo.
Wagyu bulls for the stations are bred on Colomendy near Armidale, NSW from 400 fullblood and purebred Wagyu females.

A selection of photographs of Wagyu thriving in demanding extensive Central Queensland conditions within the tropics taken by Steve Bennett during the tour:

Photo of participants of the Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association as they arrive at Hughes Pastoral Company

 

Photo of Que Hornery pioneer of Wagyu to Australia hosted the Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

Photo of ringer mustering Wagyu on Bar H Grazing

 

Photo of mob of Wagyu approaching McIntyre River on Bar H Grazing on Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

Photo of Wagyu and Wagyu cross in AACo Goonoo feedlot during Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

Photo of Wagyu heifers at Hamblin Pty Ltd during the Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

Photo of Darren Hamblin hosting the Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

Photo of yards at Hughes Pastoral Co during the Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

Photo of Wagyu pioneer Wally Rea who imported Wagyu from Japan addressing the Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

Photo of Wagyu heifer in yards at Sunland Cattle Company during Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

Photo of cows romping through dam as bus passes by on Sunland Cattle Company during the Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

Photo of leucaena at sunset on Sunland Cattle Company during the Wagyu Pride of Australia Outback Tour organised by Australian Wagyu Association

 

World Wagyu Conference

8th - 10th May, 2015, Mercure Capricorn Resort, Yeppoon, Queensland, Australia

Japanese style conformation assessment
The conference took place at the resort on 22,000 acres housing Iwasaki Sangyu Fullbloods with 1,000 Fullblood and crossbred Wagyu. Shogo Takeda gave a talk and demonstration with some Wagyu from this herd.

Wagyu’s international arrival
Shogo Takeda started to farm in Japan at the age of 27 years and was instrumental in releasing Wagyu genetics to USA. His dream was “to enable the people of the world to enjoy this fabulous meat”
Chris Walker, founder of Westholme Wagyu and one of the early importers of Wagyu to Australia described the challenges he encountered.

World positioning of Wagyu and its value to AACo.
Donald McGauchie is Chair of Australian Agricultural Company and Nufarm. AACo was established in 1824 and operates properties, feedlots, farms and a processing facility over 7 million hectares (17.5 million acres) in Queensland and the Northern Territories. Beef is exported to 20 countries around the world and 1 million people are fed every day. Wagyu were acquired 13 years ago with the acquisition of Aronui Feedlot. Wagyu is no longer seen as a cottage industry as it accounts for 44% of AACo turnover by value. The F1 cross grown the market and enabled so many consumers to experience Wagyu, but Fullbloods make the premium market more valuable. 52,000 Wagyu and Wagyu cross could be marketed this year and Donald anticipates continued growth of the middle class in Asia into the future.

Wagyu – from conception to consumption – a consumer’s delight.
Pete Eshelman, CEO Joseph Decuis Wagyu Farm and Restaurant owns the award winning culinary business with wife Alice and brother Tim and did delight the audience with his video clips. He stated that it is not the marble score but taste that determines excellence in dining with Wagyu and described how the whole carcass is used and also mentioned a few novel products..

The future of Wagyu in Australia and Australia’s international position
Graham Truscott, CEO Australian Wagyu Association gave a snapshot of Wagyu within the Australian beef industry. Almost 7,000 Wagyu are registered annually. This year there will be 169,000 joinings to Wagyu and the split is 17% Fullblood, 4% Purebred and 79% Wagyu crosses. 83,000 Wagyu will be on feed this year and this constitutes 3% of total head on feed, and 8% of the total on feed at any time. The total Australian beef population is 14.3 million out of 26.5 million cattle. The results from a recent member survey confirm strong growth is predicted for the breed into the future as demand continues to outstrip supply.

Wagyu genetic development – unlocking carcase and profitability
Sam Gill, Genetics and Genomics Project Manager, Meat Livestock Australia (MLA) listed equipment that can be used to measure carcasses: Electrical impedance probe, Hyperspectral cameras, DEXA dual x-ray, 3D X-box camera and the Japanese digital camera which is used in Australia and USA. Sam gave an overview of the research projects being undertaken by the Australian Wagyu Association. 7,720 Wagyu presently have EBVs and they come from 128 sires and this confirms the narrow breed base. He posed the question “Is using the best of the best genetics dangerous?” He pointed out that TGRM breeding selection tools, like MateSel from ABRI allow genetic progress by maximising diversity.

Health meets fine food ... the significance of melting point in unsaturated fats.
Dr Sally Lloyd has developed a simpler test for melting point of fat. Melting point is heritable and the average of progeny from three sires differed by 2⁰C. Feeding grain reduces stearic acid (saturated fatty acid). Lower stearic acid gives a lower melting point and a lower melting point is “healthier” for heart health. Beef cattle fed for less than 100 days have a melting point above 37⁰C so melting point is also influenced by diet.

Luxury dining with Wagyu beef.

Rocco Mesiano imported Wagyu beef from Japan before it was produced in Australia. Rocco founded and grew Top Cut Foods into a major domestic and international red meat operation. When it was bought by Simplot seven years ago, he was retained as technical advisor. Rocco entertained the conference with his experiences.

2015 Wagyu Branded Beef Competition Results

Photo of Grand Champion and Champion Fullblood 100% Wagyu in 2015 Branded Beef exhibited by AACo Master Kobe

 

Photo of Champion Crossbred Class in 2015 Branded Beef exhibited by Mater Beef by Hamblin Pty Ltd

 

Photo of Champion Pasturefed Wagyu Class in 2015 Branded Beef exhibted by Hughes Pastoral Co

 

An analysis was carried out by Wagyu International on the results from the Branded Beef Competition, particularly after Sally Llyod had described how she had designed a test for Melting Point during the Conference. A low melting point is associated with best eating quality so is usually found in beef with highest marbling percentages. Surprisingly in this data set, the lowest Melting Point, and the only one below 30C, was from the single entry from Pasture Fed Wagyu. This entrant had the lowest marbling score of 19% (13% lower than the lowest grain fed entrant) and this suggests that the low melting point is due to the polyunsaturated fatty acids whiuch are more abundent in grass finished beef. PUFA have a lower melting point than MUFA and also have an undesirable effect on flavour when tested by the Western palate.The lowest Melting Point entrant was ranked fifth out of 12 others for overall excellence by the panel of judges.

Trends were analysed amongst the grain fed entrants and strongest association was found between Marble percentage and Judges score (r = 0.495). The association between Judges score and Melting point was low (r = 0.178) and there was a low negative association between Marble percentage and Melting point (r = -0.125).

Chart showing Judges'score versus Marbling percentage from Wagyu Branded Beef Competition 2015

 

Chart which shows no association between Judges scores and Melting point in Branded Beef Competition 2015.

 

Auction of Wagyu bulls, females, semen and embryos

1:15 p.m. Saturday, 9th May 2015.

Description Average (range)
Bulls Average $6,666 each ($5,000-$9,000)
Cows Average $6,300 each ($5,000-$8,500)
Heifers Average $3,183 each ($2,000-$4,500)
Embryo flushes Average $3,666 ($3,000-$4,500)
Semen straws Average $1,857 for 20 straws ($1,500-$3,100)
Black Wagyu enbryos $3,500 for 6 embryos
Red Wagyu embryos $11,000 for 6 embryos

 

Auction for Royal Flying Doctor Service

Gala Dinner, Mercure Capricorn Resort, Yeppoon, Queensland.

The auction during the Gala Dinner raised $66,403 for this life saving service. Not only is this the record for an auction, but it also established the highest price for Wagyu beef outside Japan. Two kilograms of Australian Agricultural Company Wagyu beef was bought by Peter and Jane Hughes of Hughes Pastoral Company for $13,000. This is the equivalent of $6,500 a kilogram or $650 per 100 gram.

 

World Wagyu Congress

8th May, 2015, Mercure Capricorn Resort, Yeppoon, Queensland, Australia

Chair:

Australian Wagyu Association Scott de Bruin President

Secretary:

Australian Wagyu Association Graham Truscott C E O

Present:

American Wagyu Association Ralph Valdez President
  Michael Beattie C E O
British Wagyu Association Jim Blom (Jr) Director
  Jim Bloom (Snr) Delegate
German Wagyu Association Klaus Möbius President
  Dr Benjamin Junck Vice President
New Zealand Garry Lopes Secretary
South Africa Wagyu Association Brian Angus President
  Samuel Pauw  Delegate
Spanish Wagyu Association Steve Bennett Advisor

Apologies:

Austrian Wagyu Association
Chile Wagyu Association
Japanese Wagyu Registry Association
Swiss Wagyu Association

IItems for discussion:

1 - Waguyu content

Breed content Definition

Wagyu Fullblood

100%

The offspring of a Wagyu Fullblood sire and a Wagyu Fullblood dam whose forebears originate from Japan and whose pedigree shows no evidence of any crossbreeding.

Purebred Wagyu F4

93+%
Has greater than 93% Wagyu genetic content. For example, the result of at least four generations of crossbreeding using a Wagyu Fullblood sire and a Crossbred Wagyu F3 dam.

Crossbred Wagyu F3

87+%
Has greater than 87% Wagyu genetic content. For example is the result of at least three generations of crossbreeding, using a Wagyu Fullblood sire and a Crossbred Wagyu F2 dam.

Crossbred Wagyu F2

75%
Has 75% or higher Wagyu genetic content. For example is the result of at least two generations of crossbreeding, using a Wagyu Fullblood sire and a Crossbred Wagyu F1 dam.

Crossbred Wagyu F1

50%
Has 50% or higher Wagyu genetic content. For example the first generation of crossbreeding a Wagyu Fullblood sire and the dam of another breed.

It was clarified that the minimum Wagyu content is 50% and is not rounded up.

2 - Standardised registration and pedigree recording

Many countries are registering Wagyu in local herdbooks so the adoption of common rules amongst countries will assist the transfer of details from one country to another.
Even though all exports from Japan passed through USA, there are some inconsistent rules for registration. For instance, all Wagyu that are fully registered are required to be DNA parent verified in Australia. However, this rule which was in effect in USA until 2000, was dropped for purebreds and crosses. Only fullblood Wagyu are DNA parent verified at present.

3 - Registration from another association

A number of countries are registering through Agricultural Business Research Institute (ILRI) through their ILR2 and I4 service. ABRI is considering developing a service to enable the extraction of pedigree information from an association’s I4 database. It is anticipated that no development cost will be passed on by ABRI so it was resolved that:

4 - Genetic Condition data consistency

Five recessive genetic conditions are tested in Wagyu outside Japan. Results from associations are loaded into ILR2 but setup costs for each association to load the update files is $440.

It resolved that associations using ILR2 to extract genetic condition test results will make them available at no charge to other mutually agreeing WWC associations using ILR2.

5 - Analysis of breeding merit

Best Linear Unbiased Projection (BLUP) has been used for over 50 years for genetic analysis in many species. ABRI’s BREEDPLAN has universal acceptance and the Australian Wagyu Association, using AUS-MEAT and carcass digital imaging, has recently published Estimated Breeding Values for carcass weight, eye muscle area, marble score and marbling fineness in addition to EBVs for conventional growth traits, fertility and maternal traits. The USA, through BREEDPLAN, produces Estimated Progeny Differences to conform to local reporting conventions.
Not all associations will adopt BREEDPLAN

It was resolved that over the next six months USA will gather data for BREEDPLAN and a run should be carried out within 12 months.

6 - Technical Committee

A Technical Committee (Committee) is required to actively pursue technical matters. Micheal Beattie and Graham Truscott were nominated by USA and Australia respectively to serve on the Committee and each other member association shall nominate a member. Other members may be co-opted by the Committee.

The first Committee meeting shall take place on Skype within six months and there should be a face to face meeting every two years.

The Australian board had recently resolved that cloned animals can be registered but this has been suspended awaiting a decision by the WWC Technical Committee.

General business

The use of the name “Kobe” in beef brands should be confined to beef from Kobe region in Japan.

Next meeting

The next WWC will be held in 2019 in USA.

A Congress will be held every four years. Interested associations can nominate to host the next Congress and Conference but a decision will be made by vote.