Australia’s wealthiest woman, miner Gina Rinehart is rapidly emerging as one of Australia’s largest breeders of Fullblood Wagyu cattle, following deals announced today for the purchase of an additional 1500 mated Wagyu females.
The acquisitions include 1000 mature Fullblood Wagyu cows from David Blackmore’s Blackmore Wagyu herd in Victoria, and a further 500 fullblood breeders, all Blackmore genetics, from Central Queensland cattleman Mal Burston.
On top of Mrs Rinehart’s earlier purchase of about 2000-head Greenhills Wagyu herd in NSW last year, she now controls a Fullblood herd numbering at least 3500 females.
Only the Australian Agricultural Co (about 4000 Fullblood cows), and possibly Scott de Bruin’s Mayura Wagyu enterprise on South Australia’s Limestone Coast, manage larger Fullblood herds in Australia.
Ms Rinehart’s Hancock Prospecting and prominent Wagyu breeder, David Blackmore started negotiations on the deal more than two years ago.
No price has been disclosed, but it’s not hard to put together a few plausible figures. Unmated F2-F4 (not Fullblood) Wagyu heifers, 14 months, sold on AuctionsPlus a week ago for $3400. It’s likely these cows, understood to be mostly 3-8 years, with the Blackmore genetics ‘premium’ attached, sold for somewhere between $5000-$8000 a head. That would value the Blackmore herd package of 1000 cows at $5-$8 million.
This acquisition not only increases the size of Hancock Prospecting’s Wagyu herd, but the injection of high quality Fullblood genetics would ensure that the herd will be able to sustainably produce premium Wagyu beef products into the premium domestic and export markets, a Hancock statement issued this afternoon said.
The breeder herd will be located on Hancock’s New South Wales cattle properties near Dubbo, and the progeny will be grown out on an aggregation of Queensland properties in the South Burnett region bought earlier by Ms Rinehart for a dairy venture, but since abandoned in favour of Wagyu cattle breeding.
Sources close to the deal say she is intent on Wagyu beef production, rather than using the females to simply breed Wagyu herd bulls to sell.
Ms Rinehart has established a premium Wagyu beef brand, called 2GR, to underpin her expanding cattle enterprise. Insiders in the Wagyu industry say Ms Rinehart plans to establish her own integrated supply chain, perhaps even selling premium branded beef into export markets, rather than selling the cattle to feedlots or processors.
Her feeding operations are taking place at Geoff Willett’s Maydan feedlot near Warwick, Beef Central understands. Maydan has fed the last two consecutive winners in the World Steak Challenge in London – both Wagyu.
Hancock chief executive Garry Korte said the company was excited to be investing further in Australian agriculture and contributing to the development of Australia’s reputation as a clean green agricultural producer.
“HPPL recognises the value of Fullblood Wagyu and producing premium products for the discerning market, and this acquisition will allow the company to achieve that aim,” vendor Mal Burston said.
Blackmore Wagyu Beef has recently completed the delivery of the last of the 1000 pregnant, mature breeding cows.
The BWB breeding and carcase data, genomics research and eco-feeding ration were not included in the sale, company principal David Blackmore said.
Blackmore Wagyu was recently embroiled in a landuse challenge over its cattle enterprise outside Melbourne, which neighbours branded as an intensive feedlot.
Prior to Blackmore’s application for intensive animal husbandry being rejected, the company had embarked on a breeding program to increase the size of its breeding herd, in anticipation of selling a part of the herd to fund future expansion.
Blackmore was forced by the Murrindindi Shire to shut down its existing feeding operation and it was decided to move the Wagyu business, and to double the companies beef sales.
The company has retained all breeding females born in the last 30 months. Earlier this year Blackmore purchased more than 1000 Angus and Angus cross heifers which have been impregnated with embryos from donors that represented the top five percent of the Blackmore Wagyu herd. These superior breeding cows were not part of the sale.
The company plans to do 1000 embryo transfer matings each year for the next three years, to re-build numbers.
“The Hancock cattle transaction will allow us to enter into a period of targeted growth to expand our Wagyu production in the coming years,” David Blackmore said.
“Through our own genomic research program we have identified our superior females in our herd to use as the basis of our growth plans. We have leased a further 3500 acres in Victoria to accommodate this expansion,” he said.
Mr Blackmore said his company’s Wagyu beef customers would be pleased to know that the sale of the breeding females would not affect Blackmore’s monthly carcase production, and the company would continue supplying its award winning, premium quality Wagyu beef to more than 20 countries around the world.