Extra Care Goes A Long Way In Wagyu Breeding
Farmer's Weekly|March 26, 2021
The Wagyu beef breed is growing in popularity among consumers and producers, and for good reason. It offers high-quality, marbled meat, and farmers can benefit from a good return on investment. Veterinarian and stud owner Dr Anja Steinberg spoke to Lindi Botha about producing this valuable breed.
Lindi Botha
FAST FACTS

Wagyu cattle have a placid temperament and readily adapt to a wide range of climatic conditions.

The calves require extra care to get them to maturity.

Wagyu breeder Dr Anja Steinberg is working towards improving both milk and meat qualities in her herd.

Dr Anja Steinberg, a full-time veterinarian, has always had an eye for opportunity. Taking note of increasing talk about the sought-after meat qualities of the Wagyu beef breed, she and her husband bought their first Wagyu cow in 2015.

Steinberg began doing embryo flushing, combining it with bought-in semen and using surrogate dams from the commercial herd of various breeds on her family farm in Hendrina, Mpumalanga.

She focuses on seedstock production and producing purebred, top-quality Wagyu stud animals. Her clients consist of commercial beef farmers who want to increase marbling in their meat by crossbreeding their animals with the Wagyu.

While her husband runs a commercial Beefmaster herd and stud, a commercial sheep flock, and a maize and soya bean enterprise, the Mooiplaats stud is Steinberg’s business. “I have a passion for Wagyu; they’re lovely to work with due to their placid temperament,” she says.

IMPROVING GENETICS

Steinberg is working towards improving both milk and meat qualities in her herd.

“Wagyus are known for their meat quality and marbling, but their milk production is rather low, which can make rearing calves trickier. This is why I select for strong milk qualities.

“I also aim to increase meat quality and marbling, as that’s where the value lies in the breed. It’s a balancing act to ensure they have enough milk to raise their young, as well as meat quality good enough to ensure that a commercial beef farmer will want the genetics to obtain good marbling in his or her meat production.

“Unfortunately, genetics work in such a way that if you select stringently for one quality, you end up forgoing another. It’s rare to get an animal that has perfect qualities all round.”

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