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. We have also two more heifers and four bulls from her embryos which went into surrogate mothers. 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.
Olivia is an F1 Wagyu cross out of a Shorthorn cow. She has had four lovely calves so far, three bulls and one heifer. She seems to be intelligent, but is quite reserved, and less keen on human interaction than most of the others.
Geturde is a Shorthorm cow and probably the largest, with the biggest appetite along with it. She is very placid though perhaps not the most intelligent. She has given two lovely F1 heifer calves, Daisy and Ellie, who have grown very well because of hybrid vigour.
Isla is an F1 Wagyu/Angus cross. She has also had two bull calves and two heifer calves to date and is very maternal. Elise and Fiona are her two heifer calves.
Maisey is a fullblood Wagyu. We’ve had two bull calves, and we’ve also had a few bulls born to surrogate mothers from embryos she donated. So far we’ve not had any heifer calves, but we’re hopeful for this year.
Skye is a Shorthorn Wagyu cross and came from Highland Wagyu in Perthshire in 2018. She has a lovely dark brown coat, is very amicable, and has had two heifer calves. Emma, sired by our homebred bull Scotty, and Fiona, sired by a bull from Australia called Prelude.
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, and was a surrogate for one of Maiden’s embryos.
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.
Elise is a daughter of Isla, sired by a fullblood Wagyu bull called Dutch. So she’s three quarters Wagyu. We’ve had one bull calf from her so far.
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.
Ethel is a fullblood Wagyu daughter of Maiden, sired by a bull called Michitsuru. She’s due to have her first calf in January 2022.
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.
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’s due to have her first calf next year.
Fiona is a daughter of Isla, sired by the Australian bull Prelude. She is tall and long and a very pretty heifer. She’s due to have her first calf in spring 2022.
Riversdale Farm, County Antrim Northern Ireland