A ROMA family who have been breeding Wagyu cattle for almost 20 years are reaping the rewards of the current ‘black cattle boom’ with a guaranteed market for their weaner steers.
Paul and Kelli Christiansen, along with their two daughters Tori and Taylor, operate Pinnacle, a 6000 hectare property north west of Roma with about 800 cows plus replacement heifers.
The property was passed down to the couple from Paul’s parents who first began a Wagyu cross breading program in 1998.
“When we first came here, I was seven and it was a real big Hereford area,” Paul said.
“We had crossbred cattle then like Santa Hereford and they thought we were crazy then so when we went and got Wagyu the joke was by having such ugly cattle the neighbours wouldn’t steal them.”
While Paul’s father Peter passed away in 2005, the couple have continued on with the breed and for the last nine years have also been breeding wagyu full bloods as well.
They had previously worked with AACo and Rangers Valley successfully but four years ago they switched their business to supply feeder steers annually to Jack’s Creek in NSW and haven’t looked back.
Their feedlot cattle, predominantly F2s, are fed a wheat based high fibrous ration with grain sourced from local farmers until they are sold for a premium price to Jack’s Creek at about 350kg.
They usually head to Maydan feedlot at Warrick and go onto feed for a further 450 days and are killed with carcass weights averaging 400kg.
Their steers return marble scores averaging 6.4 and Mr Christiansen said they were focused on building a herd that had both growth and high marbling.
“Marbling is just more meat quality but it’s no good unless you have got the growth to go with it,” he said.
“We don’t want to end up with thousands of little stunted things that never grow. A Wagyu, like anything, under good nutrition they don’t look as ugly.
“Quality not quantity is what we are trying to do and pretty much every beast of ours we get full carcass data feedback so we can make decisions there and data track our herd.”
The Wagyu boom has allowed the Christiansens to expand their business quickly.
Through embryo transplant they are increasing their genetics and in January alone they implanted 100 embryos and another 50 in March.
They also AI, ET and natural breed Angus or Angus Shorthorn heifers to their Wagyu bulls, selling them as pregnancies to those wanting to start with the breed with buy back options of the progeny to take out the stress of finding a market.
Their bulls are put out with heifers first before heading out with cows to get their weights to more closely correspond at time of weaning.
The heifers are also fed the same ration as the feedlot steers to get them up to the joining weight of minimum 240kg, some 40kg lighter than what is required in their lower Wagyu content cattle.
Heifers that are offloaded are done so through online auction websites which Mr Christiansen said had been a revelation for the breed.
“Wagyus are very facts and figures based and genetic pedigrees,” he said.
“I think things like AuctionsPlus has been a magnificent thing for Wagyu because five years ago we never had a store market and this is one thing that held a lot of people off breeding them.
“With our Wagyus we had limited market options to live export to Japan and to feedlot, whereas now we have more options.”
MEMORIAL CAMPDRAFT RETURNS
NOT even a sandy dirt road with pot holes and corrugation could stop hundreds of campdrafters from attending the Pinnacle Pete Memorial Campdraft held at the Christiansen family’s property on October 14 and 15.
It was the second time the event had been held after it was resurrected in honour of original organiser and horsemen, Peter Christiansen, also known as Pinnacle Pete.
The on-property campdraft was first held in 1996 and helped raise money for a number of local schools and medical facilities in the local area.
But it came to an end a few years later due to dry weather and other factors.
Mr Christiansen suffered a brain injury during a horse accident in 2000 and spent months in intensive care in a Brisbane hospital.
He mentally never fully recovered from the injured and in 2005 lost his battle with depression.
His son, Paul Christiansen, wanted to keep his community spirit going and brought the event back to life.
This year about 700 runs were undertaken at the event with money raised going to depression and mental health causes.
Jack’s Creek donated $2000 worth of Wagyu beef for the canteen run by the Bymount community which proved so popular it was a sell out.
Paul said Pinnacle Pete must have been looking down on them as they received lovely rain before and just after the event.