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Benalla farm for heritage breed

by
October 31, 2017

The property north of Benalla purchased by David Blackmore.

David Blackmore on his former Alexandra property.

Wagyu breeder David Blackmore is planning a new farm near Benalla, but he won’t yet say what breed of cattle will be featuring on the property.

He has said he would be raising a rare heritage breed on the East Mount Ada farm.

Mr Blackmore recently purchased the East Mount Ada property, north of Benalla, for almost $5million.

He said his businesses exported beef to 15 countries and aimed at the top five restaurants in each.

‘‘We aim for the pointy end of the market. We’re not trying to feed the world, we don’t even want to supply supermarkets. We’re just aiming at the top-end restaurants,’’ he said.

Mr Blackmore said he bought the property due to the fertility of the grass and its proximity to Melbourne.

‘‘We wanted the property to be within two hours of Melbourne airport to allow our customers to come in and fly out later in the day,’’ Mr Blackmore said.

‘‘We needed good access to irrigation, and the river plains have really fertile soil which is good as we want to grow lots of grass.

‘‘We’ve made our name with Wagyu beef. What we’re doing now is to have a grass-fed project and we’ve imported a new breed out of Europe.

‘‘We want to make a grass-fed product that complements our existing beef in the restaurants.’’

Mr Blackmore remained tight-lipped as to the exact type of cattle he would bring in, but said it was an old heritage breed.

‘‘We’ve had as much trouble getting them out of Europe as we had getting Wagyu out of Japan — they wanted to keep it for themselves,’’ he said.

‘‘They do very well on grass and marble heavily, but not as heavily as Wagyu. In fact, they’re not even related to Wagyu.

‘‘The governments and breed societies in European countries tried to talk farmers out of sending it over. But farmers there are very excited that we have started this.’’

Mr Blackmore’s property previously belonged to noted local cattle farmer Michael Burston, who died last year.

The 609ha property is 10 minutes’ drive west of Benalla.

Mr Blackmore is confident Benalla will be a perfect location to raise high-end cattle and said the farm would bring people to the rural city.

‘‘Lots of international visitors will come to see our beef, including the world’s top chefs and buyers, so it will also bring lots of people to Benalla,’’ he said.

Held in 22 titles in the heart of the Broken River district, East Mount Ada was home to Yallambee Poll Hereford Stud until its dispersal.

It includes an architect-designed hillside homestead built in 1969 set in established gardens with a tennis court, ornamental lake and jetty and solar panels on the roof surrounded by pastures of phalaris, Balansa sub clover and rye-grass mix with 255ha of pastures that can be irrigated.

—Simon Ruppert

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