Lilian Jimenez and David Bellamy at Darley Stud Wagyu
Grass fed Wagyu. That’s a very special Wagyu. So when Lilian Jimenez and David Bellamy struck up a conversation with Craig one day when he was in his Northbridge shop, the pair had Craig’s attention. The story of Darley Stud is the fifth in our series of blogs about Craig Cook’s farmers.
Lilian is the director and David is the blood architect at Darley Stud. The stud achieves top quality Wagyu by breeding, not by grain feeding. Grass feeding produces healthier Wagyu. The stud also only uses 100% full bred wagyu. That is how Wagyu is meant to be.
And that is how Craig Cook wants it to be.
“There are many ways to produce Wagyu easily,” Craig explains, “But easily isn’t the right way to produce great meat. It was a real thrill to find pure Waygu being produced in Australia in a way that respects nature rather than pushing it out of the way.”
“Wagyu is rich in the essential Omega 3 and Omega 6. But the term Wagyu is used so loosely. Most of what is sold in the market is cross bred (Angus/Wagyu, Hereford/Wagyu, Brahman/Wagyu). If wagyu is crossed with other breeds, then the health benefits you would normally get from wagyu is highly diminished,” Lilian adds.
Darley Stud works with the rarest group of wagyu breed genetics outside of Japan. Only the females with the purest blood from their genetic markers and only the bulls with the highest quality semen are used for breeding. In 1986, David created the New Zealand Thoroughbred National Stud List, representing his selection of 100 mares to protect and develop New Zealand’s elite breeding females. It has been acknowledged by Queen Elizabeth.
“David is one of a rare breed too. There are few wagyu producers with the kind of skill he has,” Craig states. “Good breeding is so important for producing meat that I will put my name to. I know from my own farming that when you start with good breeding, you can let nature take its course.”
“It was David Bellamy’s passion for horses that gave him an idea to look at Wagyu when he moved to Australia from New Zealand,” Lilian continues. “It took him a long time to do all the research needed to become an expert in this breed that is protected and whose information is very well guarded in Japan. The Japanese government even bans the export of Wagyu.
“Just for everyone’s info, Darley Stud won the coveted Miss World 2015 in the international competition sponsored by the Wagyu global headquarters, Wagyu Breeder. Darley Stud has also produced Australia’s first purebred homozygous polled Wagyu male and female animal.”
That the Darley Stud farmers care as much about how their animals are raised as he does, clinched the deal for Craig. Craig’s own cattle are raised in an idyllic environment and live happy, stress-free lives. It’s humane, the way farming should be. And it produces better meat. Both of these things are Craig’s top priorities.
“When you look after your herd with kindness, you want to give them good nutrition and good care. We let our herd roam in paddocks that are mostly river flats and we have a dedicated Darley Stud member who keeps every animal’s health records, so we can keep them in peak health at all times.”