Image of a heifer and two calfs enjoying the beach

Three families: a wealth of expertise

    

The Hammond Family

Robbins Island Wagyu, Tasmania

In 1994, Keith, John and Chauncey Hammond saw an opportunity. The brothers recognised that wagyu cattle were fast becoming a niche, high-quality product. They sourced embryos by Michifuku, and Haruki 2, from the famous Monjiro bloodline. Additionally, they had the import rights to Kenhanafuji, World K’s Kanadagene 100, Kanadagene 101, and Genjiro, who they used extensively in artificial insemination work. Other than Kenhanafuji, who is Itohana 2’s half-brother and free of all genetic conditions, these bulls were sons of three of the most prominent Fullblood females ever used outside of Japan: Suzutani, Okutani, and Rikitani. This set up the foundation for a herd with powerful marbling of soft fat genetics.

The brothers have sourced and produced high-performing animals ever since, focusing on these marbling and soft-fat animals through pedigree, genetic testing, performance, and phenotype. They have produced wagyu for numerous markets, including Australia and Japan.

The Hammonds are currently in partnership with meat processors Greenhams Tasmania Pty Ltd. The Hammonds’ cattle are raised on the pristine grasses of Robbins Island, off the north-west tip of Tasmania, before finishing on a long-fed grain program. They are sold as Robbins Island Wagyu to domestic and international markets, with a Marble Score 9, 7-8, and 4-6 product.

The Hammonds are well known in the wagyu community. Keith was one of the early Presidents of the Australian Wagyu Association, and John is currently serving as Vice-President. They have won and been placed in many national meat competitions. Most recently, they were finalists in the Delicious’ From Paddock to Plate awards in 2013 and 2014, and finalists in Coles Farmer of the Year awards in 2015.

The Hammond family run a herd of 1800 wagyu cows, on the north-west Tasmanian coast. Their spectacular horseback cattle musters have attracted much media attention. The animals are taken from their 500-acre home property to Robbins Island at low tide to be raised in the cleanest place on earth, or, as the Hammonds like to say, in harmony with nature.

The De Bruin Family

Mayura Station, South Australia

Mayura Station was selected in 1845 as one of South Australia’s first pastoral leases, thanks to its rich agricultural potential. Over time it was broken up. The De Bruins have restored it through land purchases since the 1970s, acquiring the original Mayura homestead in the mid-1980s.

The De Bruins imported 100% fullblood wagyu in 1997 after being hooked by its flavour while on business trips to Japan. Their top-quality beef is distinguished by their focus on bloodlines and pedigree.

Mayura boasts Australia’s largest privately owned wagyu herd. The De Bruins run 7,000 fullblood wagyu, turning off more than 100 steers and heifers monthly. Their 2,600 breeding cows are mostly joined by artificial insemination, with 150 bulls on hand as back up. Mayura carefully records cattle performance and weight data, which informs the best joining’s and future herd improvements.

Asia is Mayura’s largest market, with Melbourne its main domestic market. The Mayura brand comprises three labels: the entry-level Gold label mainly sold in Australia; Platinum, its middle range, with marble scores of 8-9; and Signature, their top-end product.

Mayura’s on-site restaurant was named as the best steak restaurant in the South Australian Restaurant and Catering Awards for 2014. Mayura has won numerous Delicious Produce Awards and was a state winner in 2016. It won gold medals in the Australian Wagyu Association’s branded beef awards in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.

Mayura Station is spread over 3000ha on the South Australian Limestone Coast. It is a multi-faceted operation which breeds, feeds, and markets its award-winning wagyu. Its wagyu is served in its on-farm restaurant, which is booked out most weekends. Diners are shown how to prepare and cook its flavoursome beef.

The Hamblin Family

Strathdale, Queensland

The Hamblin family run their 6,000 wagyu over 46,000 acres in central Queensland and the Darling Downs. They began breeding wagyu in 2000 by artificially inseminating their Brahman and Brangus cows. They have since purchased higher-content wagyu crossbred cows to boost breeder numbers.

The Hamblins’ wagyu enterprise trades under the Strathdale Wagyu and Masterbeef brands. The Hamblins breed fullblood, poll purebred and crossbred wagyu cattle. Their herd is raised on buffel grass pastures in central Queensland. They are lot fed in southern Queensland and marketed as carcase sales in New South Wales.

The Hamblins used shorthorn as a base breed in order to source the large number of cows needed for a sizeable land addition in 2010. Their offspring have been the nucleus for their progeny test selection process for high-performance sires.

The enterprise has largely used artificial insemination, but in 2014 the Hamblins also focused on IVF to increase their herd’s volume of high-performing genetics from superior sires and dams. Their main practice has since been MOET flush programs: their wagyu crossbreds receive 1,000 embryos a year.

Masterbeef won gold medals in the Australian Wagyu Association’s Branded Beef Competition in 2014, 2015 and 2016. It also won five out of six categories with an F1 animal in the 2010 Pacific Carcass Competition.

Meticulous data analysis is a defining factor in the Hamblins’ success. All property managers have identical web-synchronised data-collection systems. All animals receive a score based on their parents’ and progeny’s performance; informing fast, smart decision-making. The top breeding cows and sires can resultantly be discovered and focused on.

image of poll wagyu heifer enjoying a sandy beach