Massive turnout for Wagyu conference

Peter Gilmour, president of the Australian Wagyu Association, opens the breed's annual conference in Albury-Wodonga this morning.
Peter Gilmour, president of the Australian Wagyu Association, opens the breed's annual conference in Albury-Wodonga this morning.

QUEENSLAND’S Wally Rea was inducted into the Wagyu Hall of Fame this morning as the 2017 Australian Wagyu Association Expansion conference and tour kicked off in Albury-Wodonga.

Mr Rea “The Overflow” at Marlborough, gave an entertaining story about how his time with the breed began.

While the Wagyu breed has a short history in Australia, with the association just 28 years old, it has been a colourful one full of great characters, according to AWA president Peter Gilmour.

Mr Rea is one of the most respected, a longstanding breeder who has led his colleagues through his own success and generous advice, Mr Gilmour said.

It’s the biggest turnout ever for the annual Wagyu conference, with more than 400 people from all Australian states, along with the United States, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Kingdom are in Albury-Wodonga on the NSW Victorian border for the event. 

That reflects the rapidly growing interest in the breed which produces the highest quality marbled beef and delivers substantial premiums for those using Wagyu genetics, according to the soon-to-retire Australian Wagyu Association chief executive officer Graham Truscott.

As well as feasting on a range of Wagyu based dishes, Australia’s foremost Wagyu breeders, feedlotters, processors, exporters and food service personnel will deliver incisive presentations that will educate and inform delegates to assist in business decisions. During the conference, they’ll also tour farms in the North-East of Victoria looking at best practice processing, stock management and breeding. 

Meat and Livestock Australia’s marketing mastermind Lisa Sharp will announce some never before released information regarding the future of high quality beef in the world market and how that will impact Australian Wagyu producers.

Mr Truscott will trace the breed’s explosive transition over the past five years from a secretive cottage industry to a mainstream beef industry attracting huge investors as well as traditional cattle producers. The incoming CEO Matt McDonagh will reveal plans for the next five years and make some predictions as to the breed’s future.

Cattle producers who have used Wagyu genetics over Angus and Holsteins will explain their reasons for changing their breeding strategies.

One session creating special interest is the demonstration of the new version of the Japanese developed digital carcase camera that can quickly and accurately record numerous traits in a carcase while simultaneously transmitting the information to the Wagyu database for processing and developing Breedplan EBVs. The camera’s developer, Professor Keigo Kuchida of the Obihiro University will explain the improvements in this new version soon to be released in Australia.

Another highlight will be the Wagyu Elite online sale featuring 48 lots of live cattle, embryos and semen representing the top echelons of the Wagyu breed.

Highlights of the Stanbroke Gala Dinner will include the announcement of the Branded Beef Competition winners, the Charity Auction and a special performance by Australia’s country music queen, Sara Storer.

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