Farm Ireland

Sunday 17 December 2017

Two wagyu bulls born in West Cork

One Direction: Jonathan Readman pictured with one of the two Wagyu bull calves born on his west Cork farm.
One Direction: Jonathan Readman pictured with one of the two Wagyu bull calves born on his west Cork farm.
Darragh McCullough

Darragh McCullough

Wagyu bulls, famous for their marbled meat, may yet make an appearance in your next bull catalogue following the birth of two of the breed in west Cork this spring.

AI companies have already expressed an interest in Jonathon Readman's first pedigree Wagyu bull calf, born from an embryo implant this spring.

Mr Readman, 23, who farms near Clonakilty, bought four embryos last summer from a breeder in Kildare.

"Two of the four held, and I subsequently did a deal for another egg, which has also held, and is due to calve in the coming months," explained the young farmer.

"I'm interested in the value of the breeding stock, since Wagyu bulls have been selling in England over the last year for as much as £10,000."

Mr Readman has built up a farm enterprise from scratch since he left school seven years ago.

"I never did the Leaving Cert - I just went straight to Clonakilty Ag College, and from there onto study Ag Science in CIT.

"Nobody in my family has any connection with farming, but I started milking cows for a local farmer when I was just 11-years-old. I've loved farming ever since, and by leasing land in the last year or so I'm now all set up with a herd number," he explained.

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In addition, the 25 head that he rears on the 35ac block that he is leasing, Mr Readman's contracting enterprise also makes and wraps 30,000 small square bales of haylage annually.

He believes that the Wagyu breed will make an ideal cross on early maturing breeds such as Angus or Herefords, as well as dairy cows.

"They are very easy calving with a shorter than average gestation period. But they have the same growth rates as a typical Angus," he claimed.

Already nicknamed 'Wangus', Mr Readman also believes that the Wagyu-Angus cross will be very popular with butchers and restaurants.

"I've already got a couple of restaurants and butchers interested, but unfortunately, it could take years before we actually have product to sell," he admitted.


Mr Readman hopes to sell pedigree weanling bulls for €3,000-4,000 each as breeding bulls to farmers looking to breed high-end crosses from their herds.

He also hopes to represent the British and Irish Wagyu herdbook as they become established in Ireland, with less than 50 pedigree cattle currently on the island.

"Although they come from Japan originally, we're hoping to link in to the Australian genetic database, which would be a big help to us getting off the ground quickly," he said.

Mr Readman said that he was altering the diet that he feeds the rest of his herd for his two Wagyu calves.

"I've tweaked down the protein content to 14pc, but I'm not planning to go down the same route as the Japanese families that feed their Wagyu cattle chocolate and beer and anything really, regardless of cost."

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