Wagyu at Riversdale
Wagyu cattle are uncommon. According to the Australian Wagyu Association (which is like a parent company of the British Wagyu Breeders Association) there are only twelve registered breeders in the UK, with a further four in the Republic of Ireland. In 2017 the Reid family bought two Fullbood Wagyu heifers (these animals are 100% Wagyu, and have had their DNA tested to prove that they can trace their ancestry back to Japan. They also bought three first cross wagyu heifers from the same seller. These are animals which are 50% Wagyu, also known as first cross or F1 animals. If an F1 animal is crossed to a pure Wagyu bull, the offspring, which will be 75% wagyu is called F2. A further cross gives animals which are F3 (87.5% Wagyu), and finally when it is F4 (93.75% Wagyu) it can be called ‘Pureblood Wagyu’. However, no matter how many further crosses are made, it can never be called Fullblood, as there will always be some residual trace of non-wagyu genetics. One of the issues with
Wagyu meat in the UK, is that it can be called Wagyu when it is just an F1 cross. It is the intention of Riversdale Wagyu to try to build up a herd which is either Fullblood or Pureblood. In the early years there will be some meat sold which contains a certain percentage of other breeds (usually Beef Shorthorn or Aberdeen Angus). This will always be made clear, and all the animals in the Riversdale Wagyu herd (from F1 up) are registered with the Australian Wagyu Association. These animals have all been DNA tested to prove the percentage of Wagyu present.
Meet the Matriarchs
Maiden is a very intelligent full blood Wagyu. She is the leader of the herd and very much takes control of the rest which they don’t object to. She has given us a lovely bull and two heifer calves so far. She loves a good massage and a bit of attention.
Estelle is a Wagyu cross on an Angus – Fresian cow. She is human friendly but seems to be 2nd in charge with the herd. When given the opportunity she really enjoys browsing on any trees she can access.
Maisey is a fullblood Wagyu. She is gentle natured and keeps herself to herself. We’ve had two bull calves, and one heifer, Heather, from her.
Sandy came from Highland Wagyu in Perthshire in 2018. She is a Wagyu shorthorm cross with a lovely light brown coat and a placid nature. She had one calf to our own stock bull Scotty who is now enjoying life in Waterford.
Daisy was the first heifer calf born on the farm. Her mother is Gertrude, so she is half shorthorn and half Wagyu. She is friendly and docile. As a yearling, she got wedged in a gate, and stood quite contentedly while the gate was cut with a circular saw.
Ethel is a fullblood Wagyu daughter of Maiden, sired by a bull called Michitsuru. She had her first calf January 2022. It was a tiny heifer calf, (only 20kg – the smallest calf that has ever been born on the farm) which we called Hope.
Elise is a daughter of Isla, sired by a fullblood Wagyu bull called Dutch. So she’s three quarters Wagyu. She’s had two calves so far: Hazel and Gareth.
Elise, like Fiona is polled meaning she did not develop horns, a trait inherited as a dominant gene from her mother Isla, a polled Angus/wagyu cross.
Ellie is a daughter of Gertrude by the Wagyu bull Dutch. She is a full sister of Daisy. She’s had one heifer calf, Gaelle. Gaelle was born ten days early and Ellie seemed a bit bewildered, and didn’t want to let her calf suckle, but after a couple of weeks (where Gaelle got supplementary milk) Ellie accepted her.
Emma is a daughter of Skye out of our own bull Scotty, who was a son of Maiden, so she’s three quarters Wagyu, one quarter shorthorn. In 2021 she contracted listerial meningitis, had paralysis of her jaw and was unable to eat or drink. She was very, very ill, and we had to stomach pump food and fluids into her for five days. She made a full and remarkable recovery.
Having developed a thick coat around her face when she was a calf she is affectionately known as ‘fuzzy faced Florence’ She is the daughter of a shorthorn/wagyu cross called ‘Skye’ who came from ‘Highland Wagyu’ in Perthshire, Scotland. Skye was one of our first matriarchs.
Fergie is a daughter of Olivia out of our own bull Scotty, so she’s a grand-daughter of Maiden. She is a bit of a bully with cattle who are smaller than her, and seems to be a bit bossy. She had her first calf, Heidi, in 2022.
Fiona is a daughter of Isla, sired by the Australian bull Prelude. She is tall, long, pretty heifer who is polled (meaning she does not develop horns). She had her first calf in spring 2022, ‘Hans’.
Riversdale Farm, County Antrim Northern Ireland