Demand a premium using Wagyu cattle genetics

Taylor family using both cross-bred and purebred strategies

Heath Taylor bought his first Wagyu cattle about five years ago, and now has about 70 cows, along with three bulls on the Thorndale-area farm. He made the move to Wagyu after first trying his hand at another niche-market bovine endeavour: milking water buffalo.

Taylor said he wasn’t at the time thinking of selling the water buffalo. But a buyer dropped by and offered the right price for the entire herd, so he decided to make the switch to purebred Wagyu.

His father George, meanwhile, had dispersed of most of his beef herd in 2010. George Taylor made a name for himself in the beef world a generation earlier by cross-breeding Angus, Simmental and Fleckvieh into what became widely promoted as the family’s Taylor-Made beef.

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Now, George has been cross-breeding Wagyu with his remaining Taylor-Made, and sees himself at the head of a new trend. Based on estimates that, in the next three to five years, at least three-quarters of all the breeding stock in Australia will have some Wagyu genetics, he predicts that, by 2025, the numbers will be similar in Canada. “It’ll happen really quick.”

It’s almost entirely because of the quality of the meat. There are other factors; Wagyu are docile, and calve out easy with a very consistent size of calf. But according to George, the meat “has a richness of favour… (that allows producers) to demand a premium price to get a return on the investment they have to make in breeding stock.”

It’s clear from speaking with both Heath and George, however, that selling through the freezer trade direct to consumer is what they love most, because they both love talking about the high quality of the Wagyu finished product.

About the author

Contributor

Stew Slater operates a small dairy farm on 150 acres near St. Marys, Ont., and has been writing about rural and agricultural issues since 1999.

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