WHEN Damien Curr made the shift to the Darling Downs five years ago he made a big change to his operation, switching to Wagyu production.
Mr Curr and his wife Bridget Adams now run a 2500-head breeding and backgrounding operation over two properties at Julia Creek and Pittsworth, with the cow herd in the north, and progeny moved to Pittsworth each year to be backgrounded on oats.
"I've gone from one extreme to another, from big numbers of Bos Indicus-cross cattle in the top end, headed for the export market, to higher value country, so I wanted to breed a higher-value commodity, and at the top is the Wagyu," Mr Curr said.
"We bought a lot of cows, from fullbloods through to F1s (first-cross), when it was dry in northern NSW and Queensland."
Genetics advisor Alan Hoey has helped Mr Curr select bulls, and the focus is on buying bulls from studs that have extensive carcase feedback.
"With Wagyu that data feedback plays a big part in bull selection, as well as Breedplan, but the data feedback is a higher priority, because then you're really knowing which ones are performing with carcase weight and marble score," Mr Curr said.
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He's used bulls from Dave Woodley's Rocala Wagyu stud at Niangala for the past three years.
"He's putting emphasis on the carcase attributes that I like - carcase size as well marbling, and he's providing kill data on progeny from his bulls."
Mr Curr doesn't focus too heavily in bloodlines, instead selecting bulls that will complement his females.
He said the Wagyu cattle have thrived at Julia Creek thanks to their doability.
"We're finding that they're a good tough breed, with good fertility.
"They handle the seasons, they're doing well in tick country because they're clean coated and I think the lighter frame, a more moderate size, lets them walk and travel well in the bigger paddocks."
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All steers are backgrounded to 400 to 450 kilograms and sent to a feedlot, with the majority going to Jack Creek's or Stanbroke.
"They're on crop, but we also have a backgrounding ration in the paddock," Mr Curr said.
"I'm a strong believer that nutrition plays a big part in the meat quality - it's just as important as the genetics for marbling.
"They're weaned onto starter rations and the backgrounding ration gets them ready to be on feed."
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