THE first batch of cattle to come through Stone Axe Pastoral's East Coast grainfed fullblood Wagyu program has delivered the young labelled beef company outstanding commercial results and now top honours in one of the country's most prestigious branded beef competitions.
A whole sirloin from a fullblood Wagyu steer with a 9-plus marble score, eye muscle area of 92 square centimetres, digital marbling fineness score of 58.4 and a digital marbling score of 39 per cent gave Stone Axe Pastoral the Grand Champion title in the Australian Wagyu Association's annual awards, held virtually on Friday night.
The steer was bred at Holbrook, grown out on one of the company's New England property and fed at Yarranbrook Feedlot in the Darling Downs, a facility Stone Axe has a 50 per cent ownership stake in.
The animal had a carcase weight of 435 kilogram when processed at 30 months at John Dee abattoir in Warwick.
"He was typical of the 110 head lot which marked the first cohort for the Stone Axe brand - of those only three did not marble an Ausmeat grading of 9 and 9-plus," the company's managing director Scott Richardson said.
"The promising thing is we have an equal amount of females similar or exactly the same in genetic makeup as their brothers which are now in our breeder herd.
"We started with some handy foundation genetics but it's also about the whole-of-life management where we ensure that all cattle are handled in a low-stress environment and that they are healthy and have access to quality pasture and feed that enables them to reach their full genetic potential. The winning carcass was an example of this."
Stone Axe was founded by Matthew Walker and James Robinson in Western Australia around five years ago with the plan to be the largest fully integrated fullblood Wagyu herd in the world outside of Japan.
Matt's father Chris Walker, founder of the well-known Westholme Stud, is in the Wagyu Hall of Fame, having been one of the pioneer's of the Australian Wagyu Beef Breed.
The Stone Axe business was sold three years ago, with Sydney-based private equity company Roc Partners now the majority owner.
It owns and operates properties in WA, Victoria, NSW and Queensland, running a herd of 32,000 head including 5,000 Angus and Angus-cross animals which are used in an embryo transfer program to build numbers.
Branded beef goes to China, Hong Kong, South East Asia and the Middle East, along with domestic product.
The company also owns the Margaret River Wagyu brand which operates out of WA and exports to seven countries as well as domestically.
In Victoria, Stone Axe leases Rural Funds' Cobungra Station where the property is used to breed its proven high marbling Wagyu cattle in the Alpine regions.
The Wagyu awards are divided into three classes - fullblood Japanese black, crossbred open Wagyu and commercial Wagyu.
More than 30 entries were received from across the country this year, the highest number yet received in the competition's eight-year history.
Rather than a placing, medals are awarded for meeting a minimum point score, based on tenderness, juiciness, flavour, overall liking and visual
The highest score across all three categories is awarded Grand Champion.
Fullblood Japanese Black gold medalists: Mayura Station's Mayura Signature Series, Mort & Co's Master Selection, Stockyard Beef's Kiwami, Rangers Valley's Infinite and Stone Axe Pastoral's Stone Axe.
Champion: Stone Axe Pastoral
Open Crossbred Wagyu gold medalists: Jac Wagyu's Lewis Olive Wagyu, Mort & Co's Master Selection, Stockyard Beef's Stockyard Black, Pardoo Beef Corporation's Okan Wagyu, Jack's Creek's Jack's Creek Wagyu X, Poll Wagyu's Poll Wagyu.
Champion: Jack's Creek
Commercial Wagyu gold medalists: Stockyard Beef's Stockyard Silver, Mort & Co's Master Selection, Pardoo Beef Corporation's Okan Wagyu.
Champion: Pardoo Beef Corporation.