High demand for Wagyu in all markets

Strong domestic and export demand for Wagyu genetics

Beef
EXCEPTIONAL MARKET: Elders Wagyu consultant James Matts says demand for Wagyu genetics is strong from domestic and export breeders.

EXCEPTIONAL MARKET: Elders Wagyu consultant James Matts says demand for Wagyu genetics is strong from domestic and export breeders.

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Record prices are being paid for Wagyu cattle.

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WAGYU genetics are in high demand, with record prices being paid for commercial cattle, and more cattle available on the open market than ever before.

The herd rebuild is presenting opportunities for Australian producers to invest in Wagyu genetics to produce a premium product, while export orders from multiple countries are offering exceptional premiums for fullblood and purebred Wagyu in Japanese black, Akaushi (Red) and Australian polled bloodlines.

There's good demand from beef and dairy markets, according to James Matts, Elders Wagyu livestock and genetics consultant.

"The seedstock and breeder space is booming with Elders hosting four auctions this month alone," Mr Matts said.

"The Wagyu sector goes from strength to strength, driven by the luxury beef market at the top and lifting the global beef market tail closer to a premium product.

"We're fortunate to be in a wonderful position where Wagyu are extremely sought after because the wider beef industry is understanding that the Wagyu brings a lot of positive traits to broader beef industry.

"And the other growth area is in dairy, turning cull bull calves from the dairy industry into a lucrative beef opportunity."

Mr Matts is based on Queensland's Western Downs but works nationally trading seedstock and commercial cattle, as well as genetics domestically and globally.

He said there was strong demand from northern and southern producers, and overall, demand has improved due to ongoing good seasons across the country.

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"Breeders have got the capability to retain animals and they're rebuilding the Australian herd," Mr Matts said.

"I'm seeing significant interest for Wagyu bulls to go across Bos Indicus cattle and in the south over traditional British and European breeds.

"There's the opportunity to reap the rewards that the Wagyu brings, primarily in higher meat quality, but also in temperament, longevity and fertility.

"Wagyu bulls work hard, and they're productive for a long time. For a bull that's easy doing, it adds significant dollars when it comes to meat quality, but the females are also more fertile, producing calves into their teens, so it's a no-brainer to be injecting Wagyu into your herd."

There's also a lot of strength in the export market, with lighter export heifers currently being sought but exporters are struggling to fill orders even with prices of $4000 or more.

There's the opportunity to reap the rewards that the Wagyu brings, primarily in higher meat quality, but also in temperament, longevity and fertility. - Wagyu consultant James Matts, Elders

"That's for quality animals with above breed average estimated breeding values (EBVs), but there are also a number of brackets export heifers can fall into, from the fullbloods and purebred to the F3 (third-cross), F2 (second-cross) and F1 (first-cross) cattle that are DNA tested to verify the amount of Wagyu blood in them," Mr Matts said.

"Asia is operating with enthusiasm, while South America is not doing a lot at the moment, because of issues with mad cow disease. They're being careful at the moment bu t at some stage they'll look to restock and rebuild and that will create another vigorous wave."

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Genetic gains being made by Wagyu breeders, through the use of genomics and EBVs, is attracting more commercial and stud producers to the breed.

"There are breeders who are focused on genomics and genetic improvement through their own progeny test programs, and now the Australian Wagyu Association has stepped up with its own program," Mr Matts said.

"The Japanese have done a tremendous job of creating a product that's got provenance, the luxury factor and uniqueness.

"In Australia the Wagyu is a very commercially-focused animal because it must be effective across a range of production systems - it's about marbling and growth which are measured by the main carcase traits of marble score, marble fineness, carcase weight which all correlate back to genotypes, phenotypes and feed efficiency."

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Strong prices are also helped by demand for Wagyu across the supply chain, with more marketing opportunities available to commercial breeders through lotfeeders.

"In the last five years a big number of feedlots and processors that have a built an in-house Wagyu brand - it's stepped well past being a niche market and is being recognised for the opportunities the breed brings to all beef producers."

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