Revolutionary processes and a tried and tested animal health programme at Moss Hill Farm in Co. Antrim is paving the way to bring some of the world’s most coveted Wagyu beef to market.
Gary Fitzpatrick has been utilising the Bovilis vaccines along with Consultant and Supply Chain Specialist Dr Ryan Law to roll out a tailor-made vaccination and nutrition regime, which is not only producing the finest quality Wagyu beef, but in half the time.
Wagyu beef is one of the most prized meats in the world and that’s down to the marbling. It’s unparalleled in flavour but also boasts a range of health benefits for the consumer due to its high levels of Omega 3 and 6.
It usually takes up to 36 months to rear and finish Wagyu cattle, but Moss Hill is doing it in 15 months, not only improving economic efficiency but making a positive impact on the carbon footprint of this beef production system.
Gary Fitzpatrick says with 450 animals now in the supply chain, animal health is a centre focus for the WagyuGold enterprise: “We believe prevention is better than cure and that is clearly delivering results. Our robust vaccination programme starts for the calves entering the rearing unit at 3 weeks old.
“Here they are protected from a range of respiratory diseases using Bovilis® IBR Marker Live and Bovilis® Bovipast® RSP. We’ve used these products to protect our cattle here on the farm for many years, so we know the animals perform well using this programme. The calves get a shot of Bovilis® IBR Marker Live and Bovipast® RSP on the same day and a booster shot of Bovipast® RSP 4 weeks later.” This combination offers a very broad range of protection against some of the most common pneumonia causing agents.
“With Wagyu beef, the key to quality meat is a lack of stress in the animal, so maintaining good health is paramount. Vaccination reduces the risk of sickness which, in turn, improves our productivity.
“We’ve created a comfortable, pathogen-controlled environment using pressure ventilated housing. This combined with the tailored nutrition programme has resulted in calm and content cattle with no pressure at the feed trough, which is what I like to see.”
Elite Pedigree Genetics sourced semen from the top herds globally, focusing on marbling score and fineness. The first calves arrived at the farm, based near Craigavon, in March 2021 at an average weight of 40kgs.
Calves were immediately placed on Anupro’s nutritional regime which optimises performance on a low milk, early weaning system and were weaned after 30 days on farm, with minimal health issues.
Growth rates were exceptional considering calves were from of cross-bred cows, reaching target weights ahead of expectation. The rearing programme enhances immune function and creates a positive energy balance where metabolic programming starts from a very early age.
Gary Fitzpatrick added: “In the current climate, this feeding programme is low cost and suitable for all calf rearing systems, resulting in high performance and low antibiotic usage.”
The calves also get a two-shot primary course given 4 weeks apart of Bravoxin-10 which provide protection against clostridial disease. During the finishing period cattle have access to grass and specialised feed which is continuously monitored to ensure the animals are receiving the correct nutritional requirements.
A growing consumer appetite for traceable, locally bred produce gave Gary and Ryan an opportunity to explore creating an independent supply chain. Now they’ve not only created a high-end beef product but can ensure consistency, ultimately delivering the best consumer experience possible.
Even though the business is relatively new, Dr Ryan Law says they’re keen to grow: “We are currently collecting calves from around 30 dairy farms across Ireland. Wagyu’s have a short gestation period and are very easy calved which is an ideal combination for a dairy farmer. We would support any participating farmer with the blueprint we’ve put in place here at Moss Hill which will help ultimately deliver a luxury eating experience for the consumer.”
This robust animal healthcare programme offering an efficient and economically beneficial prospect to farmers across Ireland. The business is hoping to start selling the product within a few months and is in conversation with both independent meat sellers and a large luxury national retailer.
For more information on any of the vaccines or diseases mention in the above, talk to your vet.