Raising Wagyu cattle on grass is like most things in life — easy when you know how.
Like any good recipe growing grass-fed wagyu relies on great ingredients. Our ingredients include great genetics, carefully designed systems and processes, quality feed all year round and most importantly — finely tuned specialist grass farmers.
We started out with full blood wagyu cattle and quickly worked out they are not well suited to a 100% grass-fed system. Today all First Light Grass-fed wagyu cattle are the progeny of full blood Wagyu bulls across one of 2 cow herd systems — traditional (predominantly Angus) beef cows, and New Zealand dairy (Friesian/Jersey cross — otherwise known as ‘Kiwi’) cows.
We looked all over the internet and couldn’t find any information on raising grass-fed beef cattle, so we decided to write it down, take some video footage and share it with you so you can stop guessing.
Breeding – Wagyu*Angus
This is our breeding program for our hill country sheep and beef farmer. Full blood wagyu bulls are put out with Angus heifers and mixed age cows in Spring. 9 month’s later wagyu calves, known for their easy calving, are born and graze at foot with their mothers. Calves are weaned at 200kg or 6 months of age, they are mobbed up with their mates and either stay on farm or leave home for greener pastures.
Breeding – Wagyu*Dairy
This is our breeding program for our dairy farmers. Semen from full blood wagyu bulls is inseminated into Dairy cows. Calves are raised on farm, or in specialist high care calf rearing facilities (think crèche for calves) up to 90kg. When Wagyu*Dairy calves are weaned they either stay on farm or leave home for greener pastures.
A Japanese family brought the Wagyu breed to New Zealand in 1994. Today Wagyu Breeders remains the only full blood wagyu stud in New Zealand. They are also probably the only full blood wagyu stud in the world focused on producing Wagyu Bulls, who’s progeny thrive on a grass-fed diet.
Back when we raised full blood wagyu cattle on grass there was the chance they might out live the farmer before they were finished and ready to be processed. After 10 years fine tuning the recipe we can now raise our grass-fed wagyu cattle as fast, for the really good guys faster, than traditional cattle. Grass-fed wagyu cattle thrive on a diet of rye and white clover, with specialist green feed crops occasionally used on those farms that experience particularly dry summers or cold winters. Grass-fed wagyu farms are located throughout both islands of New Zealand, across a range of climates and soil types. First Light farmers work closely as a team to supply finished cattle all year round, cattle are weighed regularly and assessed for weight and condition to ensure only the best animals are selected for processing each week.