Top award for Wagyu beef pro­ducer

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - Front Page -

BEEF pro­duc­ers from north­ern NSW have taken out top awards at the 2017 Meat Stan­dards Aus­tralia Ex­cel­lence in Eat­ing Qual­ity Awards for the state, re­cently pre­sented at Tam­worth.

The awards recog­nise pro­duc­ers who have achieved out­stand­ing com­pli­ance rates to MSA spec­i­fi­ca­tions, as well as high eat­ing qual­ity as rep­re­sented by MSA In­dex re­sults for beef car­cases graded dur­ing the 2015-16 and 2016-17 fi­nan­cial years.

Ja­son and Ann Lewis, Jac Wagyu, Bin­gara, were awarded the Most Out­stand­ing Beef Pro­ducer for New South Wales. This award was open to any pro­duc­tion sys­tem, with the ex­clu­sion of ac­cred­ited grain­fed beef.

Jac Wagyu won its ti­tle from a field of 5118 reg­is­tered pro­duc­ers in NSW who con­signed cat­tle dur­ing 2015-17.

The ac­co­lade comes a year af­ter Jac Wagyu was named one of the top three fi­nal­ists in the in­au­gu­ral MSA Ex­cel­lence in Eat­ing Qual­ity Awards in 2016.

Ja­son and his wife Ann run Jac Wagyu as a ver­ti­cally in­te­grated op­er­a­tion with Ja­son’s par­ents, John and Lynne, from their 2000ha ag­gre­ga­tion, with the home base at Cleve-court, Bin­gara, on the edge of the New Eng­land re­gion.

They mar­ket their beef within the Aus­tralian and ex­port mar­kets.

Jac Wagyu beef is sold in 14 Coles stores in NSW, Vic­to­ria, Queens­land and Western Aus­tralia, and the Lewis’s have suc­cess­fully de­vel­oped a pre­mium line of Jac Wagyu Ren­dered Fat that is stocked in all Coles stores on the east­ern seaboard.

Their breeder herd com­prises 400 an­gus breed­ers and 100 full­blood wagyu fe­males that are used to pro­vide re­place­ment bulls. Cat­tle are usu­ally turned off at weights of 650–700kg plus.

Ja­son Lewis said a ma­jor con­tribut­ing fac­tor to meat qual­ity that had emerged from their past 10 years of MSA grad­ing was tem­per­a­ment, which had be­come a key se­lec­tion cri­te­ria in the an­i­mals they kept.

“Wagyus were orig­i­nally bred to work and they get around the pad­docks a lot more than Bri­tish breeds, so we’ve learned a lot about han­dling and ed­u­cat­ing the cat­tle through­out the grow­ing pe­riod,” Mr Lewis said.

“Even when we’re trans­port­ing cat­tle to be pro­cessed, it’s im­por­tant to not send them in ex­tremes of heat or cold be­cause of the po­ten­tial stress that in turn af­fects the meat qual­ity as well.”

Young cat­tle are yard weaned for two weeks and started on sup­ple­men­tary feed­ing, worked with kelpie dogs to get them used to be­ing han­dled by peo­ple and dogs.

Once in the pad­docks, they are vis­ited once a week on mo­tor­bikes and by the dogs while graz­ing sub-trop­i­cal grasses and a hay/grain sup­ple­ment.

Mr Lewis said 400 days later, the now big, calm an­i­mals were kept on a ris­ing plane of nu­tri­tion in in­creas­ingly smaller freerange pad­docks with ac­cess to sup­ple­men­tary feed.

Rangers Val­ley feed­lot, near Glen Innes, was the other north­ern NSW win­ner (see story be­low).

TOP PROD­UCT: Ja­son Lewis of Jac Wagyu, Bin­gara. Jac Wagyu took the award for Most Out­stand­ing Beef Pro­ducer NSW in the re­cent MSA Ex­cel­lence in Eat­ing Qual­ity Awards.

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