The Australian Wagyu Industry has been known for its innovation and progressive ways of looking to enhance the sector. The Australian Wagyu Association (AWA) has recently kicked off their newest initiative the Progeny Test Program, we took the opportunity to sit down with AWA CEO, Dr Matt McDonagh to find out more about the Wagyu industry and the upcoming semen tender.
Oli: Matt, firstly can you share with me a little bit about your background?
Matt: I’m the CEO of the Australian Wagyu Association, before this I had a General Manager role with Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA). Prior to that I spent 20 years in Research and Development for the Red Meat and Livestock industry including some time in Nebraska. That was a really interesting time inmy career living in a town called ‘Clay Centre’, 600 people, 6 churches and 1 pub.
Oli: Can you tell me a little bit about the Australian Wagyu sector?
Matt: We’re very much a vertically integrated commercial sector where the whole supply chain is involved in the marketing and improvement of the industry, we’re very different from the typical segregated seedstock and beef production norm. At AWA, we run the largest genetic analysis for Wagyu Cattle Globally. We are a relatively new sector in Australia, so we have people involved who are 100% behind what they are doing. All Wagyu producers have self-identified that they wanted to change their businesses and so they are a really fantastic community to work with where our work is designed to help them to innovate and advance not only their business but the entire sector.
Oli: Matt, Can you tell me a bit more about the Tender that’s coming up?
Matt: We currently have members from 20 different countries registered with AWA, these members provide information on cattle with very powerful genomic DNA tests. This data from across the supply chain, including the performance in feedlots and subsequent carcase information helps us to determine which have the best genetics for traits that are important to the Wagyu Sector.
When a new sire is identified it can take up to six years to have progeny by that animal on the ground and have those progeny tested and proved. We created the Progeny Test Program and the resulting semen tender sale to accelerate that process and provide the opportunity for anyone in the Wagyu Sector to prove their sire.
The program is non-exclusive and provides the same opportunity for everyone in the sector, allowing the sector to prove up the best and leading next generation of sires, while also providing the rest of the industry access to those genetics.
OL: What makes it different?
Matt: We have a reference population from the Progeny Test Program and through the semen tender process, everyone else can link their herd to the reference population. People can add to their herd, measuring their performance and benchmark them against progeny that have been produced in the core AWA progeny test program.
The sector is fairly different in two particular ways, firstly the Wagyu sector is very different from commodity beef, our consumers want the highest quality, luxury table meat and they are exceptionally demanding with the ideal eating experience.
Secondly, we have people who have shifted their operations and are stepping into a sector that has a high level of data exchange, that supports the flow of information up and down the supply chain.
What’s exciting is that we are taking the benefits of all the R&D work and turning that into tangible inputs on farm. We find that when we have a new technology for delivery to the Wagyu Sector, technology transfer is immediate, with rapid uptake and innovation. I am sure that the Sector will embrace and support the Progeny Test Program and semen sale to link their genetics to our future global reference population.
To find out more about the tender head to AWA-PTP WAGYU SEMEN TENDER