Brian Angus brought the Wagyu breed to South Africa. His friend Don Nichol who was working for the AAco at the time visited him on the farm in 1998 and introduced him to this wonderful breed. Don put him in touch with the Japanese breeder Mr Shogo Takeda from whom he imported his first embryos out of Texas. The embryos were from Mr Takeda’s original cows that were imported into the USA.
The Angus family farm with their Woodview Wagyu herd at Arlington in the Free State province South Africa, which is 2 hours south of Johannesburg.
The Angus family have been breeding stud Angus cattle for 56 years and they run a breeding herd of 350 cows from which they breed Wagyu F1’s. They now also run 400 Wagyu breeders.
Brian had to compete a biological impact study on the first embryo calves to get the Wagyus accepted as a breed in South Africa. After a government supervised growth test, 3 bulls were slaughtered for a carcass analysis and they proved to be the most tender meat ever tested at the research centre.
With his years of experience in the stud industry including 2 terms as President of the Angus Breed Association, Brian started the Wagyu Breeders Association in 2014. From the beginning he ensured that DNA profiling became a mandatory prerequisite for the registering of all animals. The Wagyu membership in South Africa numbers 155 members at present.
He has attended the last 8 Australian Wagyu conferences where he has made many friends and gained much information on Wagyu breeding. He is a member of both the Australian and American Wagyu associations with friends in the Wagyu business the world over.
Brian and Maria’s daughter Megan is involved in the business. She studied marketing and has been a big asset in the branding and marketing of their cattle and beef.
The Anguses’ run a vertically integrated Wagyu business starting with the AI of their cows, to the feeding of calves, deboning carcasses, packaging, labelling, and delivering products to client’s shelves. They were the first cattle breeders to supply the industry with highly marbled branded beef.
The family run a feedlot, and an export accredited deboning plant. Megan has taught herself to debone Wagyu carcasses and to add value to the whole animal. She has an in-depth knowledge of the correct preparation of all the various cuts and assists chefs with their menus.
Megan Angus at Sparta
Greg Gibbons, from the AACo whom Brian met at the first Wagyu conference he attended in 2012, has mentored and helped him immensely. Greg is known as one of the most knowledgeable Wagyu breeders in the world, and his experience with the feeding process and his knowledge of the different attributes of each bloodline has been an enormous benefit to his herd.
Because of this a large part of the Woodview herds’ genetics originates from Australia and mostly from the AACo.
This was also the start of a very lucrative market for Australian Wagyu breeders, with the exports of semen and embryos into South Africa, which has been beneficial for breeders in both countries.
Brian was an early adopter of BLUP’s (Best Linear Unbiased Predictions) and was became aware of the advantages of the Australian Breedplan and as a result the South African Society is on Breedplan with many ranchers using the Herdmaster programme.
A game changer for him was that with the help Greg Gibbons they purchased a Japanese MIJ carcass camera. His friend Dr Joe Grose who originally assisted Prof. Keigo Kuchida to adapt the MIJ camera for the Australian meat works, kindly assisted Brian by training a South African technician to operate his new camera. The camera has proven to be a big advantage as they now analise their own carcass data.
To breed new genetics faster, Brian purchased cows from the AAco, he had them flushed under quarantine by Ced Wise in Queensland and exported the embryos to South Africa. He has also purchased cows from new bloodlines in the USA that he also flushes.
Their business in South Africa has expanded, and they now have a joint venture with a feedlot that feeds 115 000 head of cattle, called Sparta. Which is owned by the Van Reenen family. Together they formed a joint venture called the Big Beef Company and they feed, slaughter, debone, package, and distribute both Wagyu and Angus branded beef. Megan handles the marketing and sales for the Big Beef Company.
Brian’s relationship with the other Quality Genetics International members all started the Wagyu conferences. This is where they all got to know each other and over the years he developed friendships with Dr Joe Grose, Pete Bishop and Mike Katz. Each partner in the new venture have their own area of expertise and they make a great team. Being a partner of QGI has ensured that he has direct access to semen from the best Wagyu bulls in the world.