Stability in the price paid and the health status of the cattle were two determining factors which attracted the Grahams, of Hallrigg Farm, Plumpton, Penrith, to get involved with the Wagyu scheme.

Simon Graham is the third generation to farm at Hallrigg on the Brackenburgh Estate, which he does in partnership with his parents, Ian and Alison.

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Simon works full-time as an insurance adviser with the NFU Mutual in Penrith, alongside farming with his parents. They are rearing Wagyu cross calves from two to four weeks old to up to 20 months old as well, as running the 55 ewe pedigree Texel Hallrigg flock. A further 60 beef cattle are taken in and housed on a bed-and-breakfast basis.

Numbers of Wagyu cattle have reached more than 300 head and such is the success of their system, the Halls plan to increase this to 400 by the end of this year.

The Grahams’ farming background lies in dairying and the stability and guarantee of price with the Wagyu system was a key attraction, said Simon. “There is trust and integrity within the system, knowing that the calves are going to arrive healthy and in a good condition.

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"This is the same when the cattle leave Hallrigg at 20 months of age. No time is spent sourcing calves or finding buyers, giving producers like us more control of the bottom line."

When calves arrive at Hallrigg, they are reared in pens for the first two to three weeks, which makes monitoring them easier. During colder weather, they have jackets and all are vaccinated for pneumonia in the first couple of weeks.

They are then put into groups of six to eight and fed milk replacer – twice a day initially and then. once a day for the last week before weaning at eight to nine weeks old, when they are weighed.

From weaning up to four to five months old, they are fed ad lib 18% concentrate, alongside hay and straw, eating an average 4kg a day.

Over the winter at six to eight months old they are fed 3kg per head a day of the concentrate, reducing to 2kg at eight to 10 months and 1kg at 10-20 months. All are fed home-produced grass silage from six to 20 months.

From April to May, calves aged six months old and over are put out to grass where they are grazed on a rotation paddock system.

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“We want to put frame and weight onto the cattle without getting them fat,” said Ian. “The cattle are averaging 500-520kg when we sell them on to the finisher.

“The Wagyu are easy and quiet to handle, and they are very inquisitive, which makes bringing them in easier. Our only extra cost is a local haulier who takes them a few miles to the finisher.”

With his dairy farming background, Ian has done the majority of the work with the cattle before 8am. Simon shepherds before he goes to work and in the winter scrapes out.