A new feed calculator app from the Department of Primary Industries is helping Wagyu producers ensure their cattle are hitting the growth rates needed for marbling, from a young age.
NSW DPI livestock development officer Todd Andrews said Wagyu producers made huge investments on both genetics and feed.
"A Wagyu cow sold for a record $280,000 recently and Wagyu cattle are fed for 400 to 500 days," Mr Andrews said.
But, he said, producers wouldn't see the marbling results that made the breed valuable unless the cattle were consistently putting on 800 grams a day in the paddock.
"The conditions of the last 18 months to two years means Wagyu steers are not achieving that background weight gain and so therefore they're not going to marble to their genetic potential, even with 400 days in a feedlot," Mr Andrews said
"That's going to mean a lost opportunity for value gain in that carcase."
He said the app allowed producers to more accurately and efficiently hit the crucial weight gain goals.
"They can input their current pasture height and density along with its digestibility or quality to come up with a live weight gain estimation," he said.
"If the app shows they won't reach their target weight gain on the pasture available it will give supplementary feed options from high quality hay to grain."
Cowra Wagyu producer Peter Bishop said the app was also valuable for its calculation of feed costs.
"You set the parameters of the feed in your paddock and your animal and it will spit out an answer saying it will cost you this much to feed," Mr Bishop said.
"It's a flash version of a spreadsheet and its handy because you can assess the situation on the fly, it does all the work for you."
Mr Bishop believed there was scope to develop the app to include end market price estimates for the animal.
"This would then allow the user to calculate the profit margin more accurately," Mr Bishop said.
"If a farmer doesn't have a market to place the animal before they feed it, then they shouldn't be feeding it at all."
Australian Wagyu Association CEO Matt McDonagh said consistently seeing growth rates of 800 grams a day during background feeding would be a fantastic result for the industry.
"It's important to the whole industry that young feeder cattle grow well because when they get to the feedlot there's a lot of money being spent on producing them to the end point," Mr McDonagh explained.
This story first appeared on The Land.