Exploring Australian organic grass-fed Wagyu
Rare Medium took Africola’s Duncan Welgemoed out of the kitchen and into central Queensland to meet the Hughes family and learn more about their organic grass-fed Wagyu.
Fred and Sarah Hughes are fifth generation beef producers and part of Australian family owned sister companies Hughes Pastoral and Georgina Pastoral – managing approximately 130,000 cattle across 6.5 million acres of land.
The family has had an interest in Wagyu since 1992 and now have one of the largest purebred herds in the world. The Japanese breed is renowned for its highly marbled meat and ability to marble throughout the carcase, including the secondary cuts.
To produce this characteristically high and consistent marbling, traditionally Wagyu are grain-fed for 300+ days. However, Fred and Sarah believe that Wagyu can also produce spectacular marbling when raised purely in a grass-fed environment.
“Every day here at home we eat this beautiful organic grass-fed Wagyu with exceptional marbling and it’s just this amazing melt in your mouth beef with an incredible earthy grass-fed flavour,” says Fred.
Duncan agrees saying that the Hughes family’s grass-fed Wagyu provided for him, the best of both worlds.
“For me it has the flavour of a grass-fed product but the texture and mouth feel of highly marbled Wagyu. To be fair, it’s probably the best bloody steak I’ve ever eaten, hands down,” Duncan said.
The vision for Fred and Sarah is to be a leading producer of sought after, superior quality organic Wagyu, with the capacity to satisfy premium niche markets both nationally and internationally.
“We think it’s a more accessible style of Wagyu and there is no-one currently producing organic grass-fed Wagyu at scale. We’re working towards consistently generating the same level of marbling as the grain-fed product,” says Fred.
Sarah, who recently completed a research paper on grass-fed Wagyu production, believes that advancements in agri-technology are key to ensuring a consistently excellent grass-fed product.
“There’s so many exciting innovations in technology that are helping us to deliver a consistently excellent grass-fed Wagyu product. We are currently developing a custom genomic test that predicts carcase traits and identifies the animals with the best genetic potential to marble specific to our environmental conditions,” she says.
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