BINGARA’S Jac Wagyu has been named the state’s most outstanding beef producer, a year after making the top three finalists in the inaugural MSA Excellence in Eating Quality Awards.
At the 2017 awards in Tamworth last night, Jac Wagyu was named as the producer with the highest eating-quality performance and compliance to requirements within the Meat Standards Australia (MSA) Index.
They won their title from a field of 5118 registered NSW producers who consigned cattle during 2015-17.
Producer Jason Lewis said much of his success was thanks to the use of MSA grading.
He said he believed temperament was key to consistently achieving outstanding compliance rates to the program’s specifications.
Mr Lewis and wife Ann run Jac Wagyu as a vertically integrated operation with Mr Lewis’s parents, John and Lynne, from their 2000ha aggregation, with their home base at Clevecourt, Bingara.
They market their beef domestically and for export.
The award was open to any production system, with the exclusion of accredited grainfed beef.
Rangers Valley was named the state’s most outstanding grainfed beef producer at the awards night at Quality Hotel Powerhouse Tamworth.
Jac Wagyu beef is sold in 14 Coles stores in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
The Lewises have also developed a premium line of Jac Wagyu rendered fat that is stocked in all Coles stores on the eastern seaboard.
Their breeder herd comprises 400 Angus breeders and 100 fullblood Wagyu females that are used to provide replacement bulls.
Cattle are usually turned off at weights of 650-700kg-plus.
Mr Lewis said a major contributing factor to meat quality that had emerged from their past 10 years of MSA grading was temperament.
It had become a key selection criteria in the animals they kept.
“Wagyus were originally bred to work and they get around the paddocks a lot more than British breeds, so we’ve learned a lot about handling and educating the cattle throughout the growing period,” Mr Lewis said.
“Even when we’re transporting cattle to be processed, it’s important to not send them in extremes of heat or cold because of the potential stress that in turn affects the meat quality as well.”
Young cattle are yard-weaned for two weeks and started on supplementary feeding, and worked with kelpies to get them used to being handled with people and dogs.
Once in the paddocks, they are visited once a week on motorbikes and by the dogs, while grazing sub-tropical grasses and a hay/grain supplement.
Mr Lewis said 400 days later, they were a big, calm animal, and kept on a rising plane of nutrition in increasingly smaller free-range paddocks with access to supplementary feed.
He said he was happy to keep learning about turning out the perfect product, by constantly monitoring the MSA feedback.
“In this field we are competing with some very large meat-production companies, so we need to keep doing things better wherever we can,” Mr Lewis said.
“We’re dealing with a very high-value animal and asking quite a large premium from customers for our product, so it’s important to aim for 100 per cent compliance.”