It is with great honour, that Geoffery Willett, Maydan Feedlot was bestowed the 2021 Hall of Fame recipient during the WagyuEdge 2021 annual conference.
Geoff’s integrity, tenacity and dedication to Wagyu in Australia has paved the way for many in the Wagyu sector to prosper and produce the worlds luxury beef.
In conversations about the early pioneering days of Australian Wagyu, a number of names would often be mentioned – the likes of Mr Shogo Takaeda, Wally Rea, the Hammonds, Simon Coates, Nick and Vicki Sher and David Blackmore and David Warmoll.
All of these visionary people have played their part in shaping the Australian Wagyu sector to what it is today.
The challenges faced by those early pioneers included stoic opposition to Wagyu as a new and misunderstood breed, finding markets for Wagyu beef and F1 live exports, understanding the genetics and how to feed them.
Recognising that nutrition was a vital component of successful Wagyu production necessitated research into Japanese feeding regimes and applying the knowledge in a local context.
One bright spark who saw the potential, and happened to be involved in the feedlot industry, stands out among the crowd, as someone who made a significant difference to underpinning the success of many of our early pioneers.
Former AWA president, Joe Grose said that Geoff was quick to pick up on the value that the Wagyu breed could bring to the Australian Beef Industry and was an early adopter in aligning his operation to provide specialised Wagyu Feeding programs.
Advocating for the quality of Wagyu beef, our 2021 Hall of Fame recipient championed the cause with Aus-Meat to extend the marble score rating to 7, 8 and 9 to accommodate the higher levels achieved in Wagyu.
According to John Hammond, the early days of the Certified Wagyu Corporation, a marketing company set up by Wagyu producers in the mid 1990s to fulfil the F1 live trade owes a lot of its success to the determination of our 2021 Hall of Fame recipient.
The reputation of the man and his business, is testament to his tenacity to overcome challenges and surround himself with people to advise him on the feedlot journey.
Starting from a humble 4 pens in 1984, his feedlot went on to represent the very best of Wagyu feeding programs, with many of those early pioneers staying with the program until its sale in 2017, where it housed at least 77 pens of premium Wagyu cattle.
Maydan Feedlot, and its owner, Geoffrey Willett are synonymous with premium Wagyu and according to Alan Hoey, who was there with Geoff as Maydan Feedlot Manager in the very beginning, it is the mistakes and the lessons learned by Geoff, that many feedlots today have benefited from, around the country.
Image: L-R Geoff Willett, Alan Hoey, Charlie Perry. Courtesy BeefCentral