A NEW-COMER from Western Australia has stood-up some of the world’s most established and highly respected Wagyu beef brands to claim the major honours at the 2016 Australian Wagyu Association’s branded beef competition.
Results were announced at a gala dinner held last night as part of the AWA’s 2016 national conference, being held in the Hunter Valley.
Grand champion overall Wagyu branded beef this year was an entry from first-time exhibitor, Pardoo Wagyu, from Pardoo Station in Western Australia’s remote Pilbara region.
The Pardoo entry gained a gold medal and highest pointscore in the crossbred Wagyu class, earning 830 points out of a possible 1000 from judges.
The winning entry was the product of some genetic ‘trial work’ being conducted by the new Singapore-based owners of Pardoo, who bought the property in March last year.
Pardoo has historically run a Santa-based breeding herd, with most of the turnoff heading into live export. However general manager Eric Golangco and his team are exploring prospects to lift genetics using Wagyu and Red Angus bulls, with a possible view to shifting more emphasis to high-quality beef production.
More details on the Pardoo Beef Corp’s plans in this separate article published today.
Tonight’s win, achieved over Wagyu industry heavyweights like AA Co, Stockyard, Jack’s Creek and others, surprised many attending tonight’s awards presentation, as the name Pardoo is still not well known in industry circles, and little or no commercial product has yet been generated from the company’s brand program.
Pardoo’s grand championship winning entry was from an F2/F3 female produced from a multiple-sire breeding program, using F1 and F2 dams and Fullblood bulls supplied by Peter Gilmour’s Irongate Wagyu in WA.
The winning entry was harvested from a female 60-months of age at slaughter, having received a 450-day Japanese-style feedlot program based on barley, silage, straw, concentrate and trace minerals at Paul O’Meehan’s Butterfield feedlot, and processed at V & V Walsh.
Late arrival of some entries this year (including the ultimate grand champion) precluded them being technically assessed and photographed prior to judging for IMF, EMA and other grading traits, but not from participation in the actual judging process.
Judges’ comments on the winning Pardoo entry included: “Rich caramel toasty rounded flavour. Creamy silkiness lasting on the tongue. Great Wagyu eating experience with rich explosion on the mouth.”
Eighteen entries from all mainland states plus Tasmania were judged at Brisbane’s Eaton’s Hill Hotel back in March for this year’s competition, using a rigorously-managed assessment process. This writer was one of panel of 16 judges involved, assessing entries on the standard attributes of tenderness, juiciness, flavour and overall liking, plus visual raw appearance.
The crossbred class, sponsored by Matt George at Bovine Dynamics, was easily the strongest contested this year, with seven gold, silver and bronze medals awarded in total.
Placed second in the crossbred class, and also receiving a gold medal was an F4 Wagyu entry from Central-Queensland based cattleman, Darren Hamblin’s Hamblin Pty Ltd, represented by its MasterBeef export brand.
Producing the highest intra-muscular fat reading among all branded beef entries this year at 52pc, the 40-month-old carcase was fed 450 days before processing at Northern Cooperative Meat Co, Casino.
Silver medals this year in the crossbred class went to:
- Stockyard Beef’s Stockyard Black brand program for a purebred steer bred by Wally Rea Cattle Co, Marlborough and fed 450 days on a wheat/corn/barley based ration and processed at John Dee, Warwick
- Andrews Meat Industries’ Tajima crossbred brand for an F2 steer fed only 366 days for an IMF of 43pc and a fineness of marbling index of 2.88, processed at JBS Riverina, and
- Warmoll Foods’ Jack’s Creek Wagyu brand, for a 30-month-old F2 carcase exhibiting the competition’s highest fineness of marbling index at 2.99pc, fed 450 days on a wheat corn and silage based rations.
Bronze medallists in the crossbred class were the Hammond Brothers, Robbins Island Wagyu, Tasmania, with an F5 entry fed +300 days and 36 months of age at slaughter at Greenham’s Smithton processing plant; and the Australian Agricultural Co’s Darling Downs Wagyu crossbred program, based on F1 cattle produced out of the company’s Barkly composite breeders on the Northern Territory’s Barkly Tableland, and processed at JBS Beef City.
One of the distinguishing features of the crossbred class this year was variation in fineness of marbling – an important trait in Japanese Wagyu judging criteria – and to a lesser extent, abundance of marbling.
AA Co claims Fullblood class
In this year’s AWA Fullblood Wagyu class, sponsored by Zoetis, class-winning honours and a gold medal went to an entry from the Australian Agricultural Co’s flagship Master Kobe fullblood brand.
The entry produced a 9+ marbling score (49pc IMF) after 500 days on feed at the company’s Aronui feedlot on the Darling Downs. Producing a 430kg carcase with an eye muscle area of 119sq cm and fineness of marbling index of 2.71, the body was processed at the JBS Beef City plant.
Judges’ comments included: “Pleasant sweetness, finely-textured, toasty, biscuity, layers of richness.”
Placed second in the Fullblood class, earning a bronze medal, was an Andrews Meat Industries entry representing the company’s much decorated Shiro Kin fullblood Wagyu brand. This 30-month old entry, fed for 500 days on a wheat-based ration, produced a slightly lower 38pc IMF, and eye muscle area of 109sq cm.
Commercial Wagyu steak class
A third grainfed judging class was introduced this year for Commercial Wagyu steaks, exhibiting a marbling score 5-7 (considered a popular balance in many domestic and international food service and retail sector applications between price and quality).
Earning a gold medal and first place was another entry from AA Co’s Darling Downs Wagyu crossbred program, based on F1 cattle produced out of the company’s Barkly composite breeders on the Northern Territory’s Barkly Tableland.
Also earning a gold medal was second-placed Stockyard Beef, for its Stockyard Silver brand program (marbling scores 6-7) fed at the company’s Kerwee feedlot.
Earning a silver medal was Andrews Meats for another Tajima brand program entry, while Hamblin Pty Ltd’s MasterBeef program earned a bronze.
Grassfed class, gourmet sausage class
While the final class for grassfed Wagyu produced fewer entries, this emerging niche still produced some outstanding eating experiences, in the view of judges.
First place went to the Hughes family’s Georgina Pastoral Co for an F1 Wagyu entry, with a still commendable 11 percent intramuscular fat reading, at 48 months of age, fed on Central Queensland natural and improved pasture.
A final class for gourmet Wagyu sausages produced a win for value-adding and further processing company, Andrews Meat Industries, for its tasty Wagyu and onion jam sausage. Raw material in the form of trim comes from Andrews Meats’ well-established Tajima (crossbred) and Shiro Kin (fullblood) Wagyu beef brand programs.