Recording among best weight gains in the first phase of Ekka’s Wagyu Challenge, the Hughes family’s beef operation appears on-track.
Richard and Dyan Hughes, Wentworth, Clermont introduced Wagyu genetics into their cattle operation 20 years ago and now have Wagyu bulls covering their entire breeding herd.
The Hughes family run more than 10,000 head of cattle across their 40,500 hectare aggregation of properties called Wentworth Station near Clermont, which includes 6000 hectares of share farming land, and also run a breeding herd on their Strathalbyn property in Queensland’s Burdekin region between Collinsville and Home Hill.
With a focus on producing highly fertile females and excellent eating quality beef outcomes, the Hughes family have gradually moved towards incorporating more Wagyu genetics in their cattle.
“We’ve been breeding crossbred Wagyus for at least 20 years and have found we are achieve go results for our beef business with the breed,” Mrs Hughes said.
“Recently we have started to put Wagyu bulls over our entire breeding herd.”
The Hughes started increasing the amount of Wagyu genetics in their herd after noticing very high pregnancy rates in all crossbred Wagyu females at their Burdekin region breeding property.
“Any female with some Wagyu in her was falling pregnant very easily, much better than the Brahman/Red Poll-cross females we were running the property,” Mrs Hughes said.
“It made sense to us to go for fertility when we are also getting the excellent meat eating quality traits with the Wagyu cattle.
“That’s not to say our Brahman cattle didn’t have great eating quality as well because we’ve gone in some taste testing competitions with our Brahman-cross cattle and they can mix it with the best.”
Mr Hughes added their cattle operation wanted good fertility traits of the Wagyu breed with the ability of all females to have a calf every year.
“The Wagyu breed is very efficient and fertile type of cattle,” he said.
“As a cattle operation we have strongly focused on meat quality over the last 15 to 20 years, so I think the beef we produce would be suitable for a dinner table anywhere.”
Currently, the Hughes family have a beef supply chain into 400-day Wagyu-cross grain feeding program at Mort and Co’s Grassdale feedlot near Dalby, in which Richard and Dyan Hughes are current shareholders in the Mort and Co feedlot.
The season has been very favourable recently for the Hughes family who previous were in three years of drought across their two large cattle properties.
“This is the best our country has looked in many years with good storm rain rolling across our properties since July last year,” Mr Hughes said.
“We were selling cattle into the live export market and feeder cattle to feedlots during the drought.
“We really haven’t grass finished a steer for four years and this is our first year back at it.”
As well as the Wagyu-cross feeder cattle, the Hughes family also run a grass fed beef supply chain that incorporates Red Poll and Brahman genetics originally used in developing a composite bred for their Strathalbyn breeding property in the Burdekin region.
“We are now using Wagyu genetics over the Red Poll/Brahman-cross composite cattle as well and selling grass finished steers into a grass fed beef market,” Mrs Hughes said.
“All we have ever striven for in our cattle operation is fertility and meat quality.”