Caution urged

Caution urged when buying Wagyu bulls

Report by Jon Condon, 01 September 2015

The current market for well-bred F1 Wagyu x Angus feeder steers is at all-time records around 475-500c/kg liveweight, but using the right genetics is critical in order to qualify for such premiums, prospective breed entrants are warned.

Attention grabbing price premiums have been paid by a range of buyers for fullblood and crossbred Wagyu feeder steers and heifers through paddock sales and on AuctionsPlus recently. The current market for well-bred F1 Wagyu x Angus feeder steers is at all-time records around 475-500c/kg liveweight, with fullbloods around 525c/kg. Compare this with typical Angus feeders currently at 330-340c, and it’s easy to see what’s driving momentum in adoption of F1 programs in some herds.

It’s being reflected, also, in demand for young Wagyu bulls, currently in extreme short supply. It’s virtually impossible to buy yearling Wagyu bulls out of the paddock anywhere in Eastern Australia below $5000 – if they can be found at all. Nine fullblood Wagyu bulls 2-4 years were offered on AuctionsPlus the week before last, making $5000-$6000 each.

But a prominent Wagyu feeder steer buyer, who looked at the genetics in the bulls listed for sale, suggested some (not all) “lacked somewhat in Tajima content,” making them more suited for use over high-marbling performance Angus breeders, than in everyday F1 programs.

This example is useful, as it serves to illustrate that within the Wagyu genetics world, “Oils ain’t necessarily oils.”

The current high demand for Wagyu bulls, and inherent risk of new-entry F1 Wagyu breeders buying bulls simply because they carry the tag, “Wagyu” is the subject of an advisory paper issued by the Australian Wagyu Association this week.

A statement circulated by Australian Wagyu Association CEO Graham Truscott said with more commercial cattle breeders now considering the purchase of Wagyu bulls for F1 production, bull buyers should exercise caution.

The association has issued some guidance to new entrants to the Wagyu breeding industry, to avoid some of the pitfalls.