Farm Weekly

Mayura Station leads the way in premium Wagyu beef production

Mayura Station, near Millicent in South Australia, is an award-winning beef producer renowned for its high quality full-blood Wagyu meat, which is marketed throughout the world. Picture supplied
Mayura Station, near Millicent in South Australia, is an award-winning beef producer renowned for its high quality full-blood Wagyu meat, which is marketed throughout the world. Picture supplied

This is branded content for Mayura Station

Home to one of the world's most elite full-blood Wagyu breeding operations, the team at Mayura Station share a passion for producing the highest quality beef in Australia.

And it's this commitment to excellence, using the latest breeding and data collection technology, combined with a sophisticated feeding regime, that continues to deliver outstanding results for the de Bruin family's branded beef business.

According to Scott de Bruin, who is responsible for the day-to-day management of the family operation, it was his father Adrian's foresight that set the foundation of their success, importing some of Australia's first live full-blood Wagyu females from Japan in 1998.

"Back then, the market was pretty depressed, cattle were selling for 20 cents a kilogram and we were looking for an opportunity to divest out of standard commodity production into a higher quality product," Mr de Bruin said.

"The initial strategy was to breed bulls and sell genetics, but we soon realised there was a greater opportunity selling high quality Wagyu beef, which, in turn, created a demand for Wagyu livestock.

"It's all about switching your mind from being a cattle producer to being a beef producer, everything we do is focused around our Mayura Wagyu boxed beef brand."

Mayura Station introduced an extensive progeny testing program in 2001 that has enabled them to identify high-performing Wagyu genetics. Picture supplied
Mayura Station introduced an extensive progeny testing program in 2001 that has enabled them to identify high-performing Wagyu genetics. Picture supplied

Based near Millicent in South Australia's south-east, the de Bruin family now run 4500 full-blood Wagyu females across their 4452-hectare property.

They have also established a contract breeding program, with four producers in Victoria running about 1000 Mayura Wagyu-blood females between them, with the progeny supplied to the beef brand.

Mayura aims to produce full-blood Wagyu cattle with outstanding marbling, a large ribeye, and a target carcase weight of about 450 kilograms at 24 to 26 months of age, requiring less days on feed.

To ensure complete quality control and traceability, the de Bruin family have also established an on-farm feedlot at Mayura, which all the cattle destined for their brand will go through.

The cattle are then contract processed by G & K O'Connor, Pakenham, Vic, with about 85 tonnes of Mayura Wagyu retail meat packaged and boxed each month, ready for shipment overseas and in Australia.

"When we started we were feeding cattle off-farm in Queensland, but we quickly decided we needed to take control of the whole supply chain," Mr de Bruin said.

"Quality control is paramount. We deal with a lot of three Michelin star chefs around the world, as well as high-end restaurants, casinos and hotels in Australia, and consistency is the most important thing."

Mayura Station's elite foundation sire, Mayura Itoshigenami Jnr ADBFA0139. Picture supplied
Mayura Station's elite foundation sire, Mayura Itoshigenami Jnr ADBFA0139. Picture supplied

Early adopters of performance recording and DNA testing, Mayura Station introduced a progeny testing program in 2001 that has enabled them to identify the high-performing genetics in their herd.

"We can track our cattle's performance from birth through to the chiller and have introduced the use of a Meat Image Japan digital camera to assess the carcase of each animal in real time.

"Using this imagery gives you a very quick result on the amount of marbling, which means we can accurately identify those genetics and replicate them in the herd.

"The highest marbling we've achieved is 24.39."

This extensive data collection has enabled Mayura to identify several elite sires, including their foundation sire, Mayura Itoshigenami Jnr ADBFA0139, affectionately known as Junior.

"Junior was an early maturing bull, which enabled us to start processing at 24 to 26 months of age, while the rest of the industry at that stage was processing cattle at 36 months," Mr de Bruin said. "He really was a game changer for us and there was worldwide interest in his genetics.

"We sold a heifer sired by Junior at the Australian Wagyu Association's Elite Wagyu National Sale in 2018 for $280,000, a record at the time for the highest priced female of any breed."

All the Mayura cows are artificially inseminated each year, with the breeding program split into spring and autumn calving to ensure a year-round supply of beef.

Mayura Station's Wagyu branded beef has won many awards. Picture supplied
Mayura Station's Wagyu branded beef has won many awards. Picture supplied

A nucleus herd of elite females is also used in regular embryo transfer and in vitro fertilisation programs, which has enabled Mayura Station to rapidly accelerate their herd development.

"Being able to AI all our cattle using genetics we have identified as elite has really enhanced the value of our herd," Mr de Bruin said.

"We are still AI-ing more than 1000 cattle each year to Junior, while if he had only been used in natural joining, he might have produced 40 calves a year and done that for five years."

A highlight for Mayura Station was winning the prestigious Grand Champion award in the Australian Wagyu Association's branded beef competition this year.

It is the third time Mayura Station has won the award, something no other Wagyu producer has achieved.

"I was so proud of our entire team, we have a fantastic group of people behind us who work hard to deliver our standards," Mr de Bruin said.

Mayura Station began holding an annual High Performance Production Sale in 2020, offering a selection of elite bulls and females. Held on-property and online, it draws interest from across the world, with the next sale scheduled for April, 2025.

This is branded content for Mayura Station