A Japanese-style breeding focus is paying off for Iwasaki Grazing who have lifted their marble scores to 8.2 and have fast become one of Queensland's biggest Wagyu operations.
The Wagyu herd is run around the Iwasaki Capricorn Integrated Resort, 5km north of Yeppoon and 60km north east of Rockhampton.
The Iwasaki family have privately owned the Capricorn Resort since the land was bought by Yohachiro Iwasaki after a visit to the area in 1969. His son, Fukuzo Iwasaki, and now his grandson, Mr Yoshitaro Iwasaki, have continued the business.
Of the 9000ha property, the Iwasakis currently use 20pc of the land for their Wagyu grazing, 15pc for their resort development and 65pc designated for a nature reserve.
What was once a small Brangus hobby farm, the Iwasakis have diversified their tourism operation with a 3000 head full blood Wagyu herd.
Capricorn Resort Yeppoon division manager Shusaku Arikawa said the Wagyus had become a vital component of the Iwasaki brand.
"When the Iwasaki family first purchased the property in the early 1970s, it came with a small herd of Brangus cattle," Mr Arikawa said.
"The company continued breeding Brangus cattle until 2010, when our owner Mr Iwasaki changed our grazing property to a Wagyu farm.
"The Wagyu breed was very attractive to the Iwasaki brand and it's a growing market, especially in Japan.
"At the beginning there was only four full blood Wagyu bull and three full blood Wagyu cows from a breeder in New South Wales."
Mr Arikawa said they had transitioned out of Brangus cattle, with the focus now on breeding full blood Wagyu.
"We sold our remaining F1 cattle two years ago and we've since brought in full blood cows from outside of Queensland to increase our breeding capacity," he said.
Iwasaki Wagyu is specialised on full blood Wagyu, which demonstrates true Japanese-style Wagyu breeding techniques.- Capricorn Resort manager Shusaku Arikawa
"We have dispatched Wagyu specialists from Japan and demonstrated that we have contributed to the expansion of the Wagyu industry in Australia.
"We also have the advantage of a Japanese Wagyu specialist, who understands the Japanese market requirements."
Japanese-based Wagyu is described as "simply unmatched" due to their style of cattle raising and robust grading standards.
Iwasakis calves are weaned at five to six months and backgrounded intensively until they reach 300 to 320kg.
Iwasaki grazing manager Brad Walker said this process allowed the team to fine-tune their ruminant development.
"The weaners have access to hay all the time and then they're fed twice a day on a specialised Wagyu ration, which we've developed with an animal nutritionist," Mr Walker said.
"We retain our weaners and we have lot feeders in the Darling Downs region that custom feed our Wagyu for 500 days. We're aiming for that 440kg to 460kg carcase weight.
"Beforehand, the Wagyu were averaging 6.2-6.5 marble score, now they're up at about 8.2 score, because of all that fine tuning."
Iwasaki sells direct to the wholesaler, where they can export out of Australia, but Mr Arikawa said on occasion, Iwasaki also bought their own Wagyu carcases and sent them to Japan.
"Our Wagyu beef is also used in our Tsuruya Japanese restaurant and on occasion, it is sent to the local butchers in Yeppoon," he said.
Mr Arikawa said Iwasaki's aim was to produce the best quality beef in Australia at high end production.
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