Godfather of Australian Wagyu Inducted into Hall of Fame


Mr David Blackmore, on stage telling his stories during is induction into the Wagyu Hall of Fame on 12 April 2024

“I don’t like to talk about myself like this usually.” David Blackmore said through the phone. At 73 years old and one of the first to import Wagyu genetics into Australia, way back in 1990, David is going over his storied, 36-year history as a Wagyu breeder ahead of his induction to the AWA Hall of Fame at WagyuEdge’24. “We’ve been shifting cattle around all morning, and the truck’s back in an hour. Let’s get into it.”

The statement that David doesn’t like to talk about himself may not hold up under scrutiny. Talking to others about David, it seems par for the course that conversations regularly range into hours-long affairs, not to mention the 200+ newspaper articles about David and his cattle produced over the decades, and in excess of 25 television news segments & documentaries (including interviews with Anthony Bourdain, Buzzfeed, Eric Ripert and many others) taking an in-depth look at the man who built Blackmore Wagyu into the global behemoth it is today.

“Neil Perry sent me a birthday card this year, which reads: ‘Happy birthday mate. Thanks for all the beautiful beef since 2006.’ Rockpool’s been open for that long, and they’ve had our product on their menus since day one.” It’s no small praise from one of Australia’s greatest chefs, towards one of Australia’s greatest cattlemen. And Perry is but one chef of many, not to mention the many cattlemen and industry stalwarts, to count David Blackmore as a mate.


Born in 1950 to Cyril & Bet, David has been on farms his whole life. “My grandfather gave me my first cow when I was 10, so it’s been a long career in farming.” In 1979, David ran the first on-farm embryo transfer program in Australia, Master Breed, which became a big part of his business and eventually took him abroad to the US. Specifically, Texas’ A&M University where, in 1988, David got his first look at Wagyu cattle via Don Lively and Fred Hildebrand’s Purebred herds.

“I told Don I couldn’t promote such an ugly looking breed, and he responded with ‘They look like money to me, son’”.

Over the next four years, David imported American Purebred embryos from Don into Australia. Then along came Mr Shogo Takeda and his new, Japanese genetics from twice as many cattle as everyone else who had exported to the US. Mr Takeda requested David do business exclusively with him, so David sold all his American Purebred cattle and never looked back, forming Blackmore Wagyu in 1990.

“Mr Takeda and I got along so well, in spite of the language differences, because of our shared knowledge of cattle and farming.” In close to 30 years of business together, David’s fondest memory of working with Mr Takeda came from a dinner they shared together at Mr Takeda’s Japanese restaurant. Inviting David and their interpreter outside between courses, Mr Takeda asked the interpreter to relay the exact words: “Please tell Mr Blackmore that I thank my Gods every day that I met him.”

With David’s knowledge of breeding and genetics, coupled with his experience with the international beef market to that point, he realised the money to be made if Australian beef exports could be raised by a single grade. “Given the grade of beef we were exporting to Japan, I knew we could improve our value by $200 million or more if we took advantage of better genetics and better feedlot systems. Japan was hungry for better Australian beef, and I saw the gap. So I went for it.”

Fast forward to today and the success of that decision is evident: Blackmore Wagyu is sold in 14 countries and the best restaurants available to mankind. David’s product has featured in hundreds, if not thousands of cookbooks, news articles, TV segments and documentaries, and he’s received well over thirty different beef and food industry awards in Australia. “My proudest award has to be the Australian Livestock Producer of the Year in 2012, which recognised my focus on not only on animal health and nutrition but marketing our product and engaging with the industry beyond our farm gate.”

When asked what else he’s most proud of, David says: “Our longevity is a point of pride. It’s hard gaining a reputation, it’s harder still to keep it.”


Producing world-class Wagyu hasn’t always been a walk in the paddock for David and his operation. “In the time we’ve been Wagyu farmers, we’ve had bushfires, the millennium drought – and others – and we’ve sold personal assets to buy feed. Things go wrong every day and you just have to fix them: That’s the challenge. And that’s what we love about farming, I enjoy that side of it.”

Aside from droughts, fires and floods, the hardest time in David’s life was when he was starting out in fullblood production. There was a labelling scandal in Japan which saw the Japanese labelling Australian Wagyu as being produced in Japan. “Then the BSE crisis hit, meaning exports to Japan dropped to zero, and because of the labelling they claimed all of our beef as being produced in Japan, and so collected the insurance along with it.” With capital and morale low, David shifted all his exports to the US just before another crisis hit: “Our dollar grew from USD 65c to 115c, and overnight we lost our market again. That taught us to diversify our risk and now we sell to 14 countries and directly into restaurants. We do the whole thing ourselves. No more middlemen.”


David says that from day one he’s had a different goal from nearly every other breeder: “To produce the best quality, best tasting beef we could.” One could easily argue that goal has been met and consistently exceeded over the years: “Rockpool Bar & Grill has been open since 2006, and Neil [Perry, famous Australian chef] had us on the menus since day one.” A key memory of David’s, illustrating how the Wagyu market has changed over the years is how fine dining restaurants display the provenance of their menu items: The Blackmore Wagyu logo was one of the first brands to be included on menus globally; now this is common practice so customers can recognise quality.

Engaging with chefs directly was one of the keys to David’s success: By building relationships directly with the world’s greatest tastemakers, David was able to overcome the consumer’s misunderstandings of the sector. “People thought Wagyu was a process, not a breed. We hosted a lot of degustations with chefs and their customers, and a lot of farm tours, to overcome that notion.” Flicking through the farm’s guest book over the decades is a veritable who’s who of culinary heavyweights: Anthony Bourdain, Curtis Stone, Heston Blumenthal, Thomas Keller; all visited David’s farms to better understand not just Wagyu beef, but exactly how David’s process creates the fabled flavour and marbling of their end-product.

Neil Perry, one of Australia’s greatest chefs, told AWA: “David is just a fantastic guy. In every interaction he’s proven himself to be amazing, and we’re close friends now. He’s a meticulous, deep-thinking farmer who saw Wagyu as a great way of adding value to a carcase, and of making that meat the very best. He’s a pioneer and a leading light and it’s a shock he hasn’t been added to the hall of fame sooner.”

Another famous Australian chef export, Curtis Stone, told AWA: “I was lucky enough to go up to David’s farm and spend the day with him. We walked through the paddocks, where he spoke about the bloodlines and showed me exactly how these cattle are cared for. And then, we had a barbecue down by the pond, where David and Ben cooked some beautiful beef over a barbie. Still to this day, it’s one of my favourite barbecues with my brother, Luke, and I just hanging out and, of course, eating the best wagyu on the planet. We are so proud to fly the Aussie flag and serve David’s Wagyu in America and Mexico and are constantly telling the Blackmore story aboard. David deserves all his successes!”

David’s peers have similar sentiments to share of the man. Arthur Dew, long time industry connection of David’s, said of the man: “David is respected in our industry. He’s very knowledgeable with a wonderful collection of carcase data. He’s got more data on all his animals and developed that library over the years, quite meticulously, so he could ID which traits have performed well. He’s helped a lot of people in the industry get started with advice and mentoring, and he’s very generous with the knowledge he’s built up over the years. David’s induction is well deserved, and he should be congratulated on all he’s achieved.”

David’s own son Ben Blackmore says “I think Dad’s been so successful because he took advantage of being in the right place, at the right time. Everything Dad did in life almost perfectly prepared him for Wagyu when it came up. But it’s more than that: When Wagyu’s credibility was struggling, Dad’s belief in its fundamental value held fast, and now he gets to laugh at the mates who thought him crazy for breeding up ‘those black Jerseys’ over thirty years ago.”

When asked what he attributes his success to, David replies: “Common sense and hard work. That, and you have to farm with your heart and with your brain: The former provides passion, and the latter gives you logic.”

“And Mr Takeda, of course. He was as good a cattleman as I ever met. He used to tell me what they did in Japan, and I’d figure out how to adapt that to our farming conditions. Over our thirty-year relationship, we were able to communicate these things to each other brilliantly.”

What’s next for Australia’s godfather of Wagyu beef? “My son, Ben Blackmore, is the most important man in our business now. Succession planning on farms can be difficult, but he’s buying the farm from us and has developed the skills to continue growing our business.”

“Aside from that, I’ll be out in the paddock toying with a few more ideas for as long as they’ll let me.”

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