Joe Desmond’s venture into Wagyu cattle under the ‘Cloondahamper’ prefix started back in 2011.
While pedigree breeding appeared to be expensive territory for the Galway man, he decided to go down the route of a simple commercial breeding programme. Starting with four Angus-Cross Friesian heifers, Joe selected the best available Wagyu genetics to build the foundations of his herd.
As a breeder of Wagyu cattle for over half a century, Joe is quick to draw attention to the renowned traits of the breeding females including their docility, longevity, easy calving abilities and maternal qualities, with high-quality milk.
Joe now runs a straw to steak operation and continues to reap the rewards of breeding Wagyu cattle. Joe believes that the breed deserves to gain a better holding on Irish soil, drawing attention to the very attractive package that for both beef and dairy farmers alike.
“They don’t suffer from many of the ailments that you find in continental cattle. They are hardy enough to be out-wintered in Irish conditions and can likewise be put into fattening pens or feedlots where they finish well. They have good feet and legs.” Joe explained.
Mr. Desmond’s breeding programme is inspired by Japanese breeding philosophy, that strives for the production of F1 crosses, particularly with dairy cows. Meanwhile, Cloondahamper Cuchullain is also being used to cover F1 and F2 heifers, as part of the herd’s percentage breeding programme. Joe has been selling semen from his bull Cuchullain over the past number of years and he is satisfied with semen sales so far.
“Wagyus are not large animals nor do they put on weight quickly but once you get your head around the slow growth and mature carcass agenda you really get hooked. You watch them develop in all the right places and get a better understanding of where the quality cuts of the carcass are formed.” Joe explained.
While Wagyu breeding females possess desirable maternal traits, Joe believes that their real unique selling point is their beef production abilities, with a particular focus on the taste quality and marble score of their beef.
“That marbling is not the same fat that you cut away from the edges. It’s the delicate intramuscular omega 3 fats that melt like butter and flavour the meat. No other breed can come close to the Wagyu’s ability to develop a finely marbled carcass.” Joe said.
“Wagyu is making a huge impact on international beef production, especially for the Australians who dominate the supply to the lucrative Asian markets. With Ireland being among the top 5 beef producing countries it is only a matter of time before we get into the game.” Joe explained.
With a quality herd to show for his dedication to the breed, Joe will continue to be a leader in the cattle breeding circles. His eyes are securely fixed on breeding, feeding and finishing.
“I’m hoping to focus more on meeting with chef’s, hotels and restaurants to promote the final product as Irish and local, create the market and hear the customers’ feedback,” Joe explained.
“Wagyu production is not a goose that lays the golden egg. In the end, they are still cattle and such things as fodder shortage, land rental, flooding, regulations and cash flow are as real to the Wagyu producer as they are to any other farmer.” Joe said.
“But there is some satisfaction in working with an animal that can literally produce “the most expensive beef in the world,” Joe concluded.
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