THE Wagyu breed is set to benefit immensely from Australia’s first sire progeny test where net feed intake (NFI) is assessed in a commercial feedlot situation.
Australian Wagyu Association and Kerwee Lot Feeders on Queensland’s Darling Downs have developed a comprehensive program with the first intake of 180 head representing nine sires in the feedlot since the start of August.
Kerwee has installed GrowSafe feed bins, the first available in a commercial feedlot in Australia, in two pens with a total capacity of 180 head. Three intakes a year can be assessed.
The first intake are all from Darren Hamblin’s Strathdale Wagyu operation in Central Queensland, which is keen to quickly discover the genetic abilities, especially for feed efficiency, of a team of high indexing sires.
“We are keen to support Kerwee as well as the industry which is set to gain so much from this project”, said Mr Hamblin who has an extensive growth and carcase database.
“This NFI testing will fill in a missing part of the financial puzzle.
“Until now we have been able to determine growth and carcase quality but this adds another element.”
“We could have sires that are equal for growth and carcase but we have not been able to identify which one converts feed to weight most efficiently.
“Initial data indicates weight gains in the trial are pretty much in line with what our previous data is telling us.”
To make this first intake even more interesting for the Wagyu industry, some widely used industry link sires are among the nine sires with progeny in the first cohort.
To participate in the program, a member must supply at least five progeny from each of two Wagyu sires. The progeny needs to be from the same property, the same sex and about the same age.
The next intake is at the end of October with entries required by the end of September. Each intake is restricted to 180 head and bookings are being taken now.
The first cohort of 180 head will have been on feed for 100 days and the second cohort will be settling in the paddock when a Wagyu field day/workshop will visit Kerwee on November 14 where the program will be explained and demonstrated in detail.
Kerwee is responsible for a 28 day settling in period, NFI testing over 70 days, custom feeding for 450 days, regular weighing and provision of data to owners and the AWA to use in Breedplan EBV generation.
Carcase analysis will include digital imaging through a camera specially developed in Japan to assess Wagyu-type carcases for eye muscle area, marbling percentage and marbling fineness with an accuracy much greater than through visual assessment.
AWA technical services manager Carel Teseling said “because Wagyu were long fed on grain, feed efficiency is crucial.”
“High ranking Wagyu bulls are in demand and the early adopters of this new testing procedure to identify superior sires, will be the ones to benefit,” said Mr Teseling.
He used as an example the sale of 10 straws of semen for the breed’s leading Fullblood Terminal Index sire at the 2016 Wagyu Conference for $30,500 or $3050/straw. The buyer was from overseas.
“The industry is hungry for proven genetics”, he said.
Kerwee Feedlot general manager Steve Martin said the data collection was important to his company which specializes in long fed high quality beef production and efficient cost of gain was crucial to their operation.
“Feed efficiency can vary up to 15 per cent between animals and in the case of a Wagyu on feed for 400 days, can result in 6 per cent or $240/head difference in current production costs,” he said.
For an entry form for the next intake click here or for further information contact Steve Martin on 0437 569 765 or Carel Teseling on 0439 368 283.