Wagyu around the World - New Zealand
One of the largest suppliers of Wagyu-infused production is Brownrigg Agriculture which also happens to be one of the largest farming agribusinesses in New Zealand.
Privately owned by brothers David and Jonathan Brownrigg, the business is based in the highly productive region of Hawke's Bay. There are 12 farms with livestock (including prime lamb) and cropping enterprises over 10,000 hectares.
Wagyu Breeders Limited has been built over 12 years using experience from the live export of calves to the Japanese feeder market.
There are 3,000 breeders which are either Wagyu 1/2 (F1) and 3/4 (F2) cows. The 3/4 and 7/8 (F3) Wagyu bred from them is complemented by fullblood calves produced by Embryo Transfer and 1/2 Wagyu crosses from Holstein and Angus dams. 7,000 calves are born each year.
Most of the production of 4,000 head comes from Brownrigg Agriculture's farms but breeders, sharefarmers and graziers throughout the North Island of New Zealand also contribute.
Chilled beef is supplied through a joint venture - Firstlight Foods in Hastings - a leading supplier both locally and to the world. With reliable rainfall throughout the year, New Zealand is able to produce grass-fed Wagyu. Firstlight Foods differentiate their brand as grass-fed and different to barn-fed Wagyu in Japan and grain-fed Wagyu around the rest of the world.
Tara Hills Farm is a small Wagyu farm on the outskirts of Dunedin. Since humble origins in 2014 from two cows and a steer, the herd has been built up to approximately 50. They are a mixture of Purebred and Fullblood Wagyu alongside a number of dairy cross nurse cows.
Tara Hills is run by a husband and wife team. Rachael grew up on a dairy farm and has always had animals as a part of her life. Shaddon was a city dweller but has embraced the rural life and would never consider going back to the city. They both love the fresh air and freedom we have, the challenge of working with animals, and the connection with the land and our food that it provides.
The first Wagyu were acquired in 2014 and were found to be intelligent, energetic and instinctive animals. They can be a challenge, but reward good stockmanship and farming like no other breed. A great deal of importance is placed on having happy, healthy and relaxed animals that are free to express their natural behaviours.
The cattle have access to grass year around and are supplemented by hay and baleage during the winter months. Regenerative farming is followed such as no till cultivation and intensively managed grazing. The pure Wagyu herd trace their origins to embryos that were imported from Australia in the early 1990s. New genetics was introduced in 2017 from embryos that were primarily based on Takeda genetics as well as Tajima sires Yasufuku Jr and Michifuku.
Maternal influences in the pure females by the foundation bull Hirashigetayasu J2351, through his son Ginjo Marblemax Hiranami B901. Hirashigetayasu is known for passing on growth, balance and maternal strength. Our fullblood females are influenced by the foundation bull Itoshigefuji TF147. Itoshigefuji is arguably the best known bull for providing maternal qualities, with his offspring typically being gentle and well balanced with a good growth rate.
Tara Hill have a range of AI and live service bulls available which capture the major Japanese Black lines. Both ‘size' and 'marbling' bulls complement a given cow's breeding.
The breeding philosophy generally follows the Rotation program which is outlined on this page. In addition to the prefectural bloodines, they also look at Estimated Breeding Value (EBV) data where it is available, consider the recessive genetic conditions present in each animal, and plan rotations to minimise inbreeding coefficients. Finally each animal is considered on its merits; there can be considerable variation even between full siblings and the program is tailored to the cow as required.
Special consideration is given to heifer bull selection - although Wagyu are known for easy calving there is a large variation in calf weights. Generally high Tajima content 'marbling' bulls are the best option, often producing calves in the 28-30kg range.
Best practice is applied when it comes to recording and testing of offspring. Weight measurements are regularly taken from birth and all calves are DNA parent verified through Zoetis NZ (purebreds) or the Australian Wagyu Association (fullbloods). The fullblood animals are all genomically tested and registered with the AWA and the purebred animals will be registered with the NZWBA once the facility becomes available.
The original Wagyu association that was started in 1992 is the New Zealand Wagyu Breeders Association. Malcom Collier is President and he oversees the general operations and overall functionality of NZWBA. There is also a vice president, treasurer, secretary, and web designer.
Membership of the association provides access to communications forum with Wagyu breeders to share and exchange ideas in the industry. Members will also have the opportunity to build a community of reliable, relational and ethical network of breeders who have a variety of farming skills, business experience in marketing; sales, and techniques in animal care.
Additionally, as a NZWBA member, there is access to industry information, helpful resources in promoting pure breed cattle, and to the HerdBook for registration of cattle. By becoming a part of the small, but growing community of breeders; there is the opportunity to learn about sustainable grazing, and farming along with discounts on Wagyu conferences.
The New Zealand Wagyu Association was formed on 9th August, 2012. Registrations are from Brownrigg Agricultural Group/Wagyu Breeders Limited, and their predecessors.
Wagyu genetics accredited for export to New Zealand
|NAME OF ANIMAL||COLOUR||PRODUCT||CONTACT|
|Academy Red Wagyus Tambo H18||Red||Semen||Academy Red Wagyus|
|Bald Ridge Henshin||Red||Semen||Bald Ridge Wagyu|
|Bimbi Itoshigefuji 2/1||Black||Semen||Oasis Collection Centre|
|Bimbi Michiyama||Black||Semen||Oasis Collection Centre|
|Goorambat Terutani F146||Black||Semen||Goorambat Wagyu|
|Hirashige Tayasu||Black||Semen||Westholme Wagyu|
|Kalanga Red Star C402||Red||Semen||Bald Ridge Wagyu|
|Kitateruyayasu Doi||Black||Semen||Westholme Wagyu|
|Sumo Seisakushu C221||Red||Semen||Gabni Wagyu|
|Westholme Itoyoshiharu||Black||Semen||Westholme Wagyu|
|Westholme Hirashigetayasu Z278||Black||Semen||Academy Red Wagyus|
|Westholme Kiyoyasu||Black||Semen||Westholme Wagyu|
|Westholme Shigetanaka||Black||Semen||Westholme Wagyu|
|Westholme Terutakanami||Black||Semen||Westholme Wagyu|
|Westholme Teruyamanami||Black||Semen||Westholme Wagyu|
|Goorambat Terutani F146 ♂ Goorambat H6032 ♀||Black||Embryo||Goorambat Wagyu|