Poll Wagyu appeal underlined in record-setting seedstock sale

Jon Condon, 05/05/2018
2017 Wagyu conference Poll Wagyu

The Wagyu breeders behind the Poll Wagyu Stud breeding project: from left John Hammond, Darren Hamblin, Scott de Bruin and Keith Hammond.


MARKET demand for Poll Wagyu genetics – especially those carrying superior carcase performance potential – was underscored in the strongest possible way in a seedstock and genetics sale yesterday held as part of the 2018 Australian Wagyu Association annual conference.

Bulls sold to a new breed record price of $185,000, heifers to $80,000 and semen straws to a record $8000 each, in a significant turning point in the Wagyu breed’s history in Australia.

The sheer ferocity of bidding from domestic and overseas interests for the small selection of heterozygous and homozygous purebred Poll Wagyu bulls on offer took many by surprise.

The need for introduction of Poll genetics for animal welfare and workplace health and safety reasons was raised by a number of speakers during the course of the 2018 annual Wagyu conference over the past two days.

What the results also showed was that breeders were not prepared to chase the Poll trait, at the expense of other criteria. Bulls carrying Poll genetics, which also showed Breedplan EBVs for superior carcase performance did well, while those with more moderate carcase attributes were less well-received.

Yesterday’s sale represented a dramatic contrast from the inaugural Poll Wagyu sale held last year, when sales were modest, to say the least, and a number of bulls failed to reach their reserve.

Setting the sale alight yesterday with a new breed record price of $185,000 was Poll Wagyu Midnight M0775 (ET), offered by the Poll Wagyu syndicate.

A purebred (not Fullblood) August 2016 phenotypically scurred calf carrying heterozygous Poll genetics, the calf attracted a storm of bidding, led by South African interests and an Australian breeding syndicate representing several prominent interests, before being knocked down to AuctionsPlus internet buyer Johan Strudom from South Africa.

Vendor, the Poll Wagyu Stud, has been formed by three leading commercial Wagyu breeders – the Hammond family from Robbins Island Wagyu in Tasmania, the De Bruin family from Mayura Wagyu in South Australia and the Hamblin family from Strathdale Wagyu in Queensland. The three operations have large and long established commercial herds with leading full blood genetics. Three years ago they began pooling their genetic resources and expertise to help fill growing demand for Polled Wagyu bulls. Click here to view an earlier story on the group’s formation, and the motivations to pursue Poll Wagyu breeding.

The new record-priced bull is the first animal sired by the number one Wagyu carcase bull in Australia, Mayura Itoshigenami JNR, that also carries a polled gene. The price easily exceeded the previous breed record of $105,000 set last year, by his paternal brother.

Itoshigenami JNR is averaging a BMS 9 in Mayura Station’s production system, and is in the breed’s top 1pc for eye muscle area. M0775 is in the top 5pc for the breed for marbling, top 10pc for marbling fineness, and top 20pc for retail beef yield.

It was this powerful combination of polled breeding potential and superior carcase performance that drove bidding to new heights.

His purebred dam B2083 is polled, and sired by TWA Ichiryuno, back to Michifuku. She is one of Robbins Island Wagyu’s top embryo producers.

Contrast this with the result for the next bull into the ring, one of the first homozygous Poll purebred Wagyu to be offered in Australia.

Despite his greater polled breeding potential (homozygous), Poll Wagyu PB 52Y-405’s sire, Bar R 52Y, is considered a more moderate marbling performer, with his F1 calves averaging 6.25 BMS, only slightly above average for the breed.

He made $48,000 when bought by Richard and Dyan Hughes, Wentworth Cattle Co. Clermont.

Elsewhere in the catalogue, among horned entries, Lock Rogers’ Door Key Wagyu near Guyra received $100,000 and $70,000 respectively for its two sale entries.

The first, the highest priced horned bull sold, was Door Key LSRFM0209 (ET), sired by on-trend sire Maquarie Y408, out of a dam whose sire AACFC0650 is the number-three ranked marbling sire on Breedplan. The buyer was Stone Axe Pastoral from WA. Maquarie Y408 is a proven Wagyu carcase bull with 47 carcase progeny recorded, being+2.4 for marbling (top 1pc of the breed for marbling and carcase index), as well as above breed average for growth.

The second, a full brother to the $100,000 bull described above, sold to for $70,000 to Steve Keating from Chinchilla.

Making $80,000 was Macquarie Wagyu M0549 (ET), a horned Michifuku son offered by Macquarie Wagyu at Leyburn in southern Queensland, bought by Ian and Cameron Hewitt, Taroom. His Breedplan EBVs rank him in the top 1pc for terminal carcase index and marbling.

In total, 15 of 26 Wagyu bulls offered in the sale found buyers, for an average of $39,833.

Females to $80,000  

Amongst the female offering, registered Fullblood heifers peaked at $80,000 for the first animal offered in the sale, Mayura L0082 (ET), another daughter of Mayura Itoshigenami JNR (sire of the breed’s new record-priced bull, discussed above – the number one carcase bull in Australia). The horned heifer, offered by Mayura Wagyu at Millicent, SA, was also bought by Ian and Cameron Hewitt.

Another noteworthy female sale was for Westholme K523, a four-yea-old Westholme Hiramichi Tsuru daughter offered by Rob Cumine’s Grass Cattle Ltd, which made $20,000 when bought by a US-based buyer, Loren Ruth, Pennsylvania. Grass Cattle bought her as heifer from AA Co three years ago, paying just $4000, representing an excellent return on investment.

A total of six females sold averaged $28,833 a head.

Semen to $8000/straw

Aside from bulls and heifers, the sale also produced some startling results for semen sales.

Two lots of ten semen straws from Macquarie Wagyu’s Coates Itoshigenani G113 sold for $8000 per straw, and $6000 per straw, respectively, easily a semen sale record, following a discredited semen sale that occurred last year. Laird Morgan from Condamine bought the $8000 straws, and Selwyn Maller from Wallumbilla bought the $6000/straw package.

The donor, Itoshigenani G113 (H) carries a rare combination of superior marbling performance and carcase weight. He weighs 1000kg, and is described by independent breeders who have seen him in the flesh as “extremely functional, carrying frame and width – if you put a different coat on him he could be any beef breed.” He ranks in the top 1pc Breedplan EBVs for marbling (+1.7), carcase weight (+40, three times the average) and TCI as well as top 30pc for 400 day, 35pc for 600 day and 25pc for mature cow weights. His TCI of $545 ranks him the number three living Wagyu bull in Australia, producing 15 carcases so far averaging 8.7 marbling score and 494kg. He is tested free from Wagyu genetic conditions.

‘Wagyu the size of Lowlines’

One observer experienced in Wagyu pedigrees raised a criticism of the catalogue, pointing out the extent of Michifuku and TF148 bloodlines present in pedigrees.

“Both are great bulls for terminal work with male calves, but are non-maternal. The females add little value, and female size is negatively impacted every time those bulls are used. The risk to the Wagyu industry, with the fascination in selecting for marbling, is that the cattle end up about the size of a Lowline.”

“Michifuku is the worst maternal bull in the industry – a disaster – yet his influence was widespread in the sale catalogue,” Beef Central was told by a veteran breeder during the conference.

“With the exception of Itoshigenani G113 sons, which are a very different pedigree, most of the bulls that made money yesterday had Michifuku and/or 148 in them.”

Agent for the sale was GDL Rural, with Harvey Weyman-Jones, Peter Brazier, Mark Duthie and William Loudon doing the selling.

  • The result elevates Wagyu from seventh to second position on the list of Australian national beef cattle breed record prices compiled by Beef Central. Only Brahmans have sold for higher prices in Australia. Click here to view updated national beef breed records for bulls and females.


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