This is branded content for Jac Wagyu
The opportunity to differentiate themselves in the market by producing a highly valued branded product is what led the Lewis family, Bingara, NSW, to introduce Wagyu into their business in 2005.
Jason and Ann Lewis, with their children Alex, Taylor, and Lottie, run their vertically integrated business as Jac Wagyu from Murrawombe, which has been in the family for just under a century.
The family has also owned nearby Clevecourt for 15 years, which is where they built their NFAS-registered feedlot in 2020, on which construction was completed in 2022.
The marbling, high fertility, and overall eating quality of Wagyu made the breed the clear choice for the Lewis's business.
The Jac Wagyu stud was established with the purchase of two bulls and 10 embryos from Dr Joe Grose.
"We still use his genetics and value his guidance and advice in regards to our breeding decisions," Mr Lewis said.
"We also have female genetics that trace back to Sumo Wagyu. Additionally, we have used genetics from Macquarie Downs in the past to add further genetic diversity to our existing herd."
The family feed their commercial cattle at the Clevecourt feedlot, which are then killed, packed, and sold into the Jac Wagyu branded beef program.
Jac Wagyu branded beef is sold in 12 countries, with an experienced exporter handling all of their intentional sales.
The Lewis's deal directly for domestic sales into Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne.
The Lewis's initially focused on phenotype and milk, which remains important to them to this day.
"Our priority was to breed a cow to be able to raise a calf unassisted. Since then, we have gone on to target meat quality, marbling, and eye muscle area using carcase data and tracing this back to the sires and dams.
"We introduced more outside sires to help build diversity and improve performance."
Every animal in the Jac Wagyu herd is now DNA verified, with all feedlot steers and heifers DNA verified as well.
"We now know what animals outperform their siblings.
"We monitor weight gain and feed intake in our feeder cattle.
"We then measure their HSCW, dressing percentage, marbling score, carcase yield, and return."
Mr Lewis said genetics and EBVs are useful tools in breeding for quality animals but that they need to be backed by performance.
"Carcase data in Wagyu is king.
"There are young bulls out there with great pedigrees and EBVs but their accuracy is low.
"Pedigree is not the only teller for a high-performing bull.
"The Wagyu game is not for those looking to make a quick dollar."
The Lewis family now custom feed for their Wagyu clients within their NFAS-accredited feedlot.
"These cattle are fed a custom ration and their intakes can be carefully monitored.
"We grow our own grain and hay which is utilised in our feeding facility.
"The cattle are checked daily to maintain optimal health and happiness.
"The feedlot has shade installed over every pen where the cattle can rest during the warmer days."
"The pens are regularly cleaned and excess manure is stockpiled and aged before spreading over our cultivation paddocks."
Mr Lewis said they are constantly on the lookout for Wagyu custom feeding partners and offer options to buy their animals at the end of the feeding program.
"These cattle are then marketed within the Jac Wagyu branded beef program.
"This avenue offers our clients an opportunity to attain the highest possible returns from their animals due to the market we have established."
The Lewis's don't sell bulls at this stage, but for the first time, they are offering straws of proven sires JACFM16045 and JACFM16047.
"JACFM16045 is now one of the top Wagyu sires when you take EBV accuracy into account.
"He's extremely balanced and ticks all the boxes with extreme marbling and meat quality attributes while maintaining above-average size and milk."
"A bulls' EBV will change as you input data in for analysis.
"The best bulls in the Wagyu breed are over 80pc accuracy with some over 90pc now.
"I have found EBVs can change significantly until they reach 75pc accuracy, they then change only slightly until hardly at all.
"Our bulls will reach almost 90pc accuracy by this time next year and are currently sitting at 78pc and 87pc.
"Unfortunately, it takes almost five years to prove the performance of a Wagyu bull.
"Despite using some highly sought-after sires in our AI program, the best-performing sires and dams to date are still our in-house lines."
Their second sire JACFM16047 is a high performer as well but his attributes are extreme in different areas.
"He is an extremely large bull for a Wagyu, weighing in at close to 1000kg with a large frame and lean body, with extremely high milk and well above average marbling and eye muscle for meat quality.
"You don't often find a sire that has extreme size and milking ability with above-average marbling."
Mr Lewis said the time to invest and expand in Wagyu is now.
"There are great genetics available more than ever at affordable prices.
"However, you need to be committed to the breed. Wagyu production is a long game."
If you'd like to learn more about the Jac Wagyu custom feeding program or have any other enquiries please contact Jason Lewis on 0428 672 941 or email@example.com and visit the Jac Wagyu website, Instagram and Facebook pages.
This is branded content for Jac Wagyu