Top award for Wagyu beef producer
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.