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Tour sinks its teeth into Wagyu

THANKS: Mackay Rural Production Society’s Wayne Davis thanks Wagyu breeders and tour hosts Sue and Mal Burston.
THANKS: Mackay Rural Production Society’s Wayne Davis thanks Wagyu breeders and tour hosts Sue and Mal Burston. Contributed

MACKAY Rural Production Society's Wayne Davis says if you ever order a Wagyu steak on a menu and it does not melt in your mouth and have a caramelised taste, it is probably not true Wagyu.

Mr Davis, along with 40 members of the MRPS, got an insight into central Queensland Wagyu breeders Malcolm and Sue Burston's successful cross breeding program recently.

The Burston family has been involved in breeding Wagyu cattle for 10 years.

Mr Burston said they conducted their own cross breeding trials from F1 to purebred, analysed kill data and found that the Wagyu/brangus cross gave their best yield results with similar marble score to the F2s, F3s and purebred.

"The F1 cross is the bread and butter of our operations," he said.

The Burstons are still concentrating on their fullblood Wagyu production with results in superior marbling and tenderness.

The fullblood herd consists of 300 cows which produce the bull calves that are Genestar tested and selected to cross over brangus cows from their F1 production.

As an introduction for their program, Mr Burston went through a history of Wagyu types and desirable traits which produce good yield, taste and tenderness.

He said Australia had three grades of Wagyu: fullblood, cross bred and pure bred.

He said the highly marbled fat was a healthier type of fat and the meat had a caramel taste.

Calving rates could be as high as 90 to 97%.

Bulls were put out with the breeders in December for three months.

AUDIENCE: MRPS members view Wagyu F1 heifers in the cattleyards at Mal and Sue Burston’s Broadlea property.
AUDIENCE: MRPS members view Wagyu F1 heifers in the cattleyards at Mal and Sue Burston’s Broadlea property. Contributed

The Broadlea Wagyu cross cattle go to Geoff Willet's Maydan feedlot at Warwick and are killed at Casino.

Each fullblood Wagyu bull is Genetested and joined to about 70 brangus cows.

He said the introduction of Wagyu cattle into Australia had increased the marbling score of cross bred cattle from 1 to 6 to 9 under the Australian grading system.

He said the preferred grade for the Australian palette was a score of 6 or 7. Anything over that can be considered a little oily or rich.

Mr Burston told the group they aimed to get 70% marble score 9.0 in F1 production using specific sire selection of their Wagyu bulls.

The ultimate aim would be to increase the eye muscle area from about 90cm to 110cm to give a maximum return.

"Wagyu cattle are highly fertile and very quiet to handle," Mr Burston said as he stood in the yards showing off the features of a pen of Wagyu bulls and different cross bred cattle, moving through the cross bred females to F1, heifers, cows and surrogate mothers. Brangus bulls used in the cross breeding program were also exhibited.

They have a breeding program using high grade brahman cows and angus bulls to breed their own brangus line with their progeny to go to Wagyu bulls.

They have brangus bulls from Telpara stud on the Atherton Tableland and angus bulls from Harry Lawson's stud in Yea, Victoria which are used in their cross breeding to get the ideal brangus female.

BEEFY TASK: Coastal Wagyu breeder Rodney Streeter and Ben Burston move Wagyu heifers into the pen.
BEEFY TASK: Coastal Wagyu breeder Rodney Streeter and Ben Burston move Wagyu heifers into the pen. Contributed

Mr Burston said they were increasing their fullblood herd by using IVF and surrogate mothers.

He answered questions from MRPS members and was assisted by his daughters Jess Russell, Ellaise, son Ben and son-in-law Troy Russell. Friend and fellow fullblood Wagyu producer Rodney Streeter, of Devereux Creek, and other staff members also helped out.

To top off the day, barbecued Wagyu steaks were on the menu for lunch, both grain-fed, which have the distinctive caramelised flavour, and grass-fed, which were just as tender but more recognisable in taste.

Topics:  business easy eating fine dining livestock