Aussie White ‘Wagyu of the sheep world’

Eating quality and health findings for Australian White sheep meat are exciting breeders


Sheep
Big boys: Tattykeel sires on display at the Kahmoo open day at Cunnamulla. Pictures: Sally Cripps.

Big boys: Tattykeel sires on display at the Kahmoo open day at Cunnamulla. Pictures: Sally Cripps.

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Testing is showing that fat from Australian White sheep has a melting point similar to Wagyu meat, giving it big ticks in the eating quality and health worlds.

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Eating quality is king in the red meat world, and health benefits aren’t far behind.

The Wagyu breed has long been regarded in the cattle world as unsurpassed for its eating experience, thanks to its marbling qualities, and its softer unsaturated fat makes it sought after as a healthy meat choice.

The Australian White sheep breed is now claiming similar characteristics for its meat.

The excitement of such a find was clear in the voice of James Cook University veterinary science lecturer, Aduli Malau, as he took attendees at the Australian White open day through his findings.

Aduli Malau shares his findings with the audience at Cunnamulla.

Aduli Malau shares his findings with the audience at Cunnamulla.

He has spent much of his research life in Japan and Australia looking at the marbling gene, intra-muscular fat, and the melting point of fat, driven by the need to give consumers the same eating experience every time they buy red meat.

“Most qualities are subjective, but in the lab we can work out melting points and IMF with 99.9 per cent accuracy,” he said.

“Lamb is popular in the Australian diet, so my interest is in enhancing its value.

“I was shocked when I received the Australian White samples. I wondered whether we were dealing with Wagyu because it has a very similar melting point.”

It’s an indicator of unsaturated fatty acid, the “good” fat.

Aduli said the melting point of most sheep breeds started at 40 degrees, whereas Australian White samples came in at 33 to 35 degrees.

“It’s just as good, if not better, than Wagyu,” he said. “I’ve not seen this in 27 years of research.”

It was a similar story with fatty acid profiles indicating outstanding omega 3 qualities.

“There is definitely something unique about the eating quality of Australian White meat,” Aduli said.

Breed founder Graham Gilmore, Tattykeel stud, backed that up, saying that chefs had told them of the unique quality of the product, thanks to the fat’s low melting point.

Graham Gilmore tells the open day crowd how the shape of the Australian White breed's back leg was changed, all by visual selection.

Graham Gilmore tells the open day crowd how the shape of the Australian White breed's back leg was changed, all by visual selection.

“We were quite ignorant of this but the industry is now realising it’s the most important part of what we do.”

He thought the Van Rooy and Texel genetics, which make up half of the Australian White “brew”, meant they had come up with something unique.

“At the Dubbo show last year, we won every class in the carcase competition, that’s hoof and hook.

“When all of the results were tallied, Australian White was the winner, with seven pens out of 90.”

The story Aussie White ‘Wagyu of the sheep world’ first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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