26/07/2005 - 22:00

Tender Wagyu wows ’em

26/07/2005 - 22:00


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Almost 15 years after it was introduced to Australia, Wagyu beef has become the unusual, if minor, success story of the nation’s cattle farming industry.

Tender Wagyu wows ’em

Almost 15 years after it was introduced to Australia, Wagyu beef has become the unusual, if minor, success story of the nation’s cattle farming industry.

From Japanese stock, the genetic strain is now produced by more than 300 certified Australian Wagyu breeders.

Lyndon Brown is one of them. From his property in Eneabba, where his family have been farming since 1834, he has built not only Western Australia’s sole Wagyu operation, but one of the country’s largest and most successful Wagyu businesses.

Together, farmers such as Mr Brown export more than 20,000 live Wagyu cattle to Japan annually, where it commands prices between $500 and $1,000 per kilo. In Singapore it can fetch up to $200/kg yet here in Australia, prices for the entire range of cuts are just $50 to $150/kg.

Japan is Australia’s biggest export market, and with demand growing each year, our reputation as a quality Wagyu source has quickly grown.

Since first coming into contact with the breed in 1991, Mr Brown has strived to produce the best Wagyu in the country. His methods have ranged from traditional to cutting edge and even the bizarrely innovative in his quest to produce the best possible stock.

Mr Brown, who is now embarking on a process to re-mineralise his farm’s soil, believes it will be similarly innovative techniques and process that will make WA’s Wagyu superior.

“I’m going back to first base but I believe the cattle will be better for it,” he says.

Mr Brown describes the Wagyu cattle as very adaptable, quiet and versatile – taking to Eneabba’s conditions and flourishing.

And temperament is something Mr Brown has concentrated on.

Believing that relaxed and placid cattle produce better meat, Mr Brown has employed some special practices to ensure his cows remain peaceful.

 “We called it ‘moosic’,” he says of the specifically composed musical score he had written for his animals.

Australian musician Robert Boyd completed the pieces and played it to the cows through car stereo equipment as he drove around the paddock.

The practice was replicated up to four times a day, but reports suggest that, out of 36 cattle, 24 slept through the second hour of the show.

Despite the “excellent results” from the ‘moosic’, Mr Brown stopped the practice a few years ago to concentrate on other sides of the business.

In addition to these techniques, Mr Brown feeds seaweed to his herd cattle to help develop the intra-muscular fat the breed is known for.

It is this fat, a word that usually strikes fear into consumers, that makes Wagyu so expensive and sought after.

“Wagyu fat contains Omega-3 oils, which have a lower melting temperature,” Mr Brown says. “The fat scored throughout the Wagyu beef melts at around 32 degrees, lower than the temperature the human body operates at.”

This means that once it enters the body it will remain in liquid form, whereas other fats, which need temperatures of 42-45° to melt, can solidify in places such as arteries.

But just how much fat are we talking about?

Using an industry standard scale of one to 12 measuring the fat percentage of beef, one being the least, Australian cattle usually stays between one and two, maybe three but never beyond.

Mr Brown is producing cattle graded six, seven, eight and beyond. Although he stops at nine, some of those cattle graded above receive the almost unfathomable 9+ marque.

“No-one is as passionate as Lyndon Brown,” says Vince Garreffa, owner of Mondo Di Carne Butchers.

Mr Garreffa, who exports Eneabba Wagyu and supplies local retailers and restaurants, admitted to “falling in love” with the product.

“It was the first time in my life that the reality of a product exceeded its hype,” he says.

Recently showcasing the product at the Perth Convention Exhibition Centre, Mondos went through 1,000 tastings in two-and-a-half days.

“The people’s reaction was, ‘wow I’ve never tasted anything like this’,” he says.


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