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Published date09 November 2022
Publication titleWest Coast Farming Times, The
The Kennedy farm on Atarau Road is the first on the Coast to calve wagyu through a scheme with Carrfields Livestock and NZ Wagyu

Fellow farmers gathered at Kennedys farm recently to view the calves and talk about the benefits of wagyu with Richard Andrews from Carrfields Livestock.

"Nationwide, as farmers, we select sex in a lot of our dairy cows, so if you are doing that you have to put a beef straw in the other ones.

"Basically, a wagyu calf gives a farmer a market for bull and heifer calves, rather than breeding a standard beef.

Currently there is a very poor market for beef/dairy cross heifers.

There are three supply options - One, the 5 - 10 day old calf will fetch $180, two, a 100kilo calf will get $400 and three, grazing 100kgs to 520 kilo is paid on weight gain per kilo with rates increasing at certain weight ranges.

"It's a black calf that does the job - it gives the farm a full supply chain.

"The meat is very rich and visually, the Japanese market wants pure white marbling, so straight Friesians, F16s, and 3/4 Friesians or F12 are the best.

"Ideally, the blacker the coat, the better the marbling, but we will now take calves from F10-F16 cows as we require more calves on the ground to meet the market opportunities in place." Currently, Carrfields and NZ Wagyu have 33,000 Wagyu of varying ages grazing in both North and South islands.

Mr Andrews also points out the resultant reduction in bobby calves - a PR nightmare - coupled with the "poor markets" for other beef stocks, "certainly makes the wagyu breeding an option with good returns and a full supply chain to 520kgs".

When farmers consider their options there are benefits of either on-farm rearing or sending them away to dedicated rearers.

Support is available for that on-farm option and the rearing cost varies depending on the individual and product used, for instance there is a requirement for anyone rearing wagyu to get approval of all powders and meal used.

Talking numbers, Mr Andrews says: "The rearing fee is $400 net and costs - approximately two bags of milk powder, meal, $10 per head animal health, with the rearing estimate of $260 giving an estimated margin of $140 per head, but every rearer will have slight diff erences from this.

"The support systems in place are very good, we work with vet life to manage the animal health plans for all ages from five days age to 520kgs, and assistance is only a phonecall away should anyone require advice or assistance from either the vets or the...

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