Not much to report today. Had a quick visit in the morning to a Wagyu stud farm run by Brownrigg agriculture. They are a pretty large cropping and lamb finishing business, but there is a sideline in Wagyu, both breeding and finishing.
This particular unit breeds around 200 bulls a year which go either to their share farming partners, or another slightly related company called Firstlight foods. All of the meat they are producing is finished on grass, as there is not enough market in NZ for grain fed – and the Aussies can export it cheaper than the Kiwis can make it.
Brownrigg will finish anything from a 100% fullblood animal down to an F1 cross (50%), whereas Firstlight only uses crosses. This is a pretty interesting area to me, as it is something I am currently doing in a very small way (Firstlight have 10-15,000 Wagyu at the moment, slightly more than me). The conventional way to cross a Wagyu is to use an Angus mother, and a lot of these animals are this mix. Wagyu is the number 1 breed for marbling, and Angus is the number 3. Number 2 is Jersey, and a Jersey x Wagyu cross will apparently provide very high and consistent marbling levels, but with a small carcass.
However, there is a breed used a lot in NZ dairy called the Kiwi Cross, which is Friesian x Jersey. When this is combined with Wagyu, the carcass size is increased, and there is less chance of getting yellow fat – which can result sometimes from the Jersey genetics. Most of these animals will be black/dark brown like a Wagyu, but occasionally there will be some white on the belly. If someone tries to sell you a Wagyu x Friesian cross and it has white above the belly, don’t buy; it’s a fraud! [apparently]
I asked if the genetics were for sale; “If you have a millions bucks you can have this bull” was the answer. I think they liked that one.
After leaving the farm, I stopped off at what can only be described as a shed full of tat. How can someone make a living selling old shoes and dinner sets from the ’70s? Maybe this is what would happen in Wales if subsidies were taken away?
This evening I am, coincidentally, staying just outside Cambridge. En route I passed through Taupo, and did my first ever skydive. WOW!
Tomorrow should be a really interesting day.