LIC has been named as the Cooperative Business of the Year.
The LIC and First Light Wagyu scheme enables dairy farmers to cross their dairy cows with Wagyu sires, creating more value for the farmers and a reliable source of export-quality Wagyu stock for First Light.
First Light chief executive Gerard Hickey says the scheme is helping to meet global demand for grass-fed Wagyu.
“The dairy-Wagyu cross creates a desirable product for export, with more of the marbling for which Wagyu beef is renowned. Our experience has shown dairy breeds, including the Kiwicross cow, produce a high quality marbled beef when mated with First Light Wagyu sires,” he says.
“Grass-fed Wagyu beef is increasingly popular with NZ and overseas consumers... who have shown they are willing to pay more for a verified traceable product with the superior eating characteristics of Wagyu.”
LIC’s general manager of biological systems, Richard Spelman, says the scheme enables farmers to see non-replacement calves becoming a valuable product.
“It gives income diversification from calf sales in early spring and provides an alternative to bobby calves. Farmers can extend their existing artificial breeding period to include First Light Wagyu,” says Spelman.
He says the partnership with First Light is happening at an opportune time as interest in dairy-cross beef options is rising.
“It offers new options for dairy farmers and creates high-value beef that fits with the NZ grass-fed story.
“The partnership also connects the dairy and red meat value chains to create an emerging value-added product.”