Research and Innovation

Research and Innovation is an important aspect of advancing Australian Wagyu.

To improve production outcomes, genetic gain, recognition and quality attributes of Wagyu, the AWA is committed to participating in projects that provide positive outcomes to the industry.
In more recent years projects have included:

  • 2021 – 2031 Progeny Test Program
  • Research and uptake of objective carcase measurements in conjunction with Meat Imaging Japan
  • Sire Progeny Net Feed Intake project
  • Wagyu Collaborative Genomics Research project
  • Crossbred Wagyu Genomics project
  • Wagyu Hub Export Project

2021 - 2031 Progeny Test Program

Progeny test programs have been the backbone of the beef industry’s genetic improvement for the past 30 years. To date, the AWA has not run a formal progeny test program. Rather, AWA has built its genetic database and reference population from the high-quality commercial genotype and performance data submitted by AWA members into the Wagyu BREEDPLAN genetic evaluation.

The AWA Progeny Test Program aims to consolidate this data and provide a formal program which aligns with Goal Two of the 2020 – 2025 AWA Strategic Plan: Advance and Protect Our Critical Genetic Resources. This will be achieved through large-scale testing of progeny from diverse sire genetics sourced from the Global Wagyu sector and the Australian Wagyu cow herd. AWA encourages its members with Herdbook registered animals to nominate sires and dams for the largest Japanese Black Wagyu progeny test program outside Japan.

Objective Carcase Measurement

For Wagyu beef, brand promise is everything. For brand owners, brand recognition represents a known quality, and part of the key to that story is the level of marbling. Therefore, accurate grading of marbling gives consumers and brand owners clarity and confidence in the brand and the eating experience.

Currently, qualified meat graders assess beef carcases parameters including carcase weight, P8 fat depth, dentition, ossification, pH, intramuscular fat content (marble score), meat colour, fat colour and eye muscle area. Voluntary additional values can also be included to define the eating quality under Meat Standards Australia.

The existing grading system provides the industry relevant marketing and language tools needed for trade and export.  For genetic improvement of marbling in Wagyu, additional objective measurement can increase the accuracy of marbling measurement to accelerate genetic gain.

Sire Progeny Net Feed Intake Program

Wagyu feeding programs can vary from 350 to 600 days.  The benefits of efficient feeders in the feedlot is particularly important for Wagyu in order to achieve high-quality marbling and the desired carcase traits that are characteristic of Wagyu.

A quick glance over the fence won’t tell you which animal has the most economic feed intake and the greatest carcase potential. Analysis of the amount of feed eaten and the resultant carcase traits will give a far more accurate assessment, but it takes time and data.

More information

George Lubbe
General Manager, Feedlot Operations
Stockyard Lot Feeders Pty Ltd (Kerwee Feedlot)

Phone: 07 4692 2277 or 0408502787
Email: [email protected]

Carel Teseling
Australian Wagyu Association

Phone: 02 8880 7703 or 0439 368 283
Email: [email protected]

Crossbred Wagyu Genomics Project

The Crossbred Wagyu Genomics Project is obtaining genomics information and carcase information from 10,000 Wagyu cross cattle over multiple years to develop genomic tools to use for crossbred Wagyu selection and management.

The project will also investigate the combination of crossbred performance data with the existing large Fullblood Wagyu data set to determine if the Wagyu BREEDPLAN analysis can benefit from including crossbred data.

Collaborative Genetic Research Project

Delivered in two stages, the Collaborative Genomics Research Project aim was to increase the rate of genetic gain of Australian Fullblood and Purebred Wagyu at a faster rate than any other Australian beef breed within 10 years, by developing a whole of Wagyu industry genetic advancement model.

The project was delivered by the Australian Wagyu Association, with matched funding collaboration from Meat & Livestock Australia.

Two-stage delivery


Completed in September 2014, data was “mined” from large cohorts of Fullblood Wagyu progeny from large commercial Wagyu producer operations, delivering some 2-3000 phenotypes depending on the trait considered to deliver preliminary Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and development of Wagyu Single-Step BREEDPLAN utilising the SNP genotypes to more accurately establish genomic relationships between animals.

The Wagyu Single-Step BREEDPLAN analysis developed in Stage 1, was customised using Wagyu-specific genetic parameters, heritability and trait correlations, to produce the EBVs in Wagyu BREEDPLAN.

Predictive genomic performance tests were developed and commercialised for breeding and commercial feedlot slaughter animals along with BreedObject $Indexes. Promising young sires will be identified and their widespread use encouraged across Wagyu breeding herds supplying performance data, reducing generation interval and further increasing genetic gain.

Wagyu Hub


The Wagyu Export Hub Project

The project will establish an Export Hub to develop an export capability for Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) working in the Australian Wagyu industry through the implementation of Japanese Meat Image carcase grading cameras.

The Hub will assist SMEs to use and develop skills in the use of these cameras to assist the Australian Wagyu Industry to build on product quality and brand recognition.

The Wagyu Hub project activities can be found by downloading the Statement of Activities.

The Wagyu Hub project is part of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science export hubs in growth industry sectors initiative. It is also a collaborative initiative with Food Innovation Australia Limited.

Important Notice and Disclaimer

It is very important that you appreciate when viewing the AWA database that the information contained on the AWA database, including but not limited to pedigree, DNA information, Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) and Index values, is based on data supplied by members and/or third parties.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the information reported through AWA, AWA officers and employees assume no responsibility for its content, use or interpretation. AWA disclaims all liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for all expenses, losses, damages and costs you may incur as a result of the use by you of the data on this AWA database and the information supplied by ABRI and AGBU being inaccurate or incomplete in any way for any reason.

Regarding EBVs and Index values, it is very important to appreciate, and you need to be aware that:

  • EBVs are derived using Wagyu Single Step BREEDPLAN technology developed independently by the Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit (AGBU), using the information contained within the AWA database.
  • AGBU is a joint venture of NSW Department of Primary Industries and the University of New England, which receives funding for this purpose from Meat and Livestock Australia Limited.
  • AWA relies solely on advice provided by AGBU and ABRI in accepting Wagyu Single Step BREEDPLAN software.
  • EBVs published in Wagyu Single Step BREEDPLAN are estimates of genetic potential of individual animals and may not reflect the raw animal phenotype.
  • EBVs can only be directly compared to other EBVs calculated in the same monthly Wagyu Group BREEDPLAN analysis.

Regarding pedigree and DNA testing results submitted to the AWA, it is very important to appreciate, and you need to be aware that:

  • Pedigree and DNA data submitted and supplied to AWA may have errors in it which cannot be detected without further DNA testing.
  • Technology may have advanced since a particular test was undertaken so that previous inaccuracies which were not detectable are now able to be detected by current testing technology.
  • AWA estimates that less than 1% of the pedigree entries, ownership or breeding details in the AWA Herdbook may have errors or which may be misleading. For this reason, users ought to consider if they need to obtain independent testing of the relevant animal (if possible) to ensure that the data is accurate.

Regarding prefectural content, it is very important to appreciate, and you need to be aware that:

  • Prefectural content is based on the estimation of prefectural origin from Japanese breeding records of 201 foundation sires and 168 foundation dams.  As genotype-based parent verification is not used in Japan, and full Japanese registration certificates are not available for all foundation animals, exact prefectural composition for these sires and dams cannot be validated.
  • The calculation of prefectural content for Australian Herdbook animals relies on the accuracy of pedigree records and DNA samples provided by AWA members.
  • The reporting of prefectural content for animals within the AWA Herdbook relies on the calculation provided by ABRI.

If you consider that you do not understand or appreciate the nature and extent of the data provided on this website or the EBVs of a particular animal, then AWA strongly recommends that you seek independent expert advice.