A Tuam farmer has taken ownership of a 100 per cent fullblood Wagyu bull. It is believed that this may be the first bull of this particular breed to cross the River Shannon into Galway. It is estimated that there are no more than 10-15 fullblood Wagyu bulls working in Ireland in total.
Joe Desmond from Lavally outside Tuam is part of a newly formed producers group that provides a market for the F1 cross of the Wagyu. He believes this is a breed that will suit Irish farmers, particularly dairy farmers. "The best results from this first cross is with the Holstein breed which many dairy farmers use because of their superior milking quality, but are considered poor fatteners to the commercial cattle farmer. To the Wagyu farmer, the overall finishing weight of the Wagyu cross is not nearly as important as its marbling quality. The Holstein is a naturally marbling breed that has been proven to benefit from the Wagyu genetics.''
The bull, who is aptly named Cuchullain, was born at the foot of the Cooley Mountains on the Louth/Armagh border. Wagyu breeder Peter O’Hagan bred him from embryo transfer parents that came out of New Zealand, which in turn were embryo transfers out of Japan - where the breed originates. The Japanese government has banned all live exports of Wagyu genetics out of the country since 1996 and views the breed as a national treasure. They produce and exceptionally well marbled carcasses and command premium prices from select butchers, chefs, and restaurants.
Many farmers have recently expanded their dairy farming operation due to the lifting of quotas. They need to get their cows into calf in order to get milk but very few will keep those calves. Mr Desmond believes that the use of a Wagyu bull will add value to calves. "The Wagyu is an exceptionally easy calving breed due to their narrow head and hips, and are suitable for first time or heifer calving. Now we have a market for an animal that is usually considered a poor fattener."