Raising Wagyu Cattle

Important Tips On Raising Wagyu Cattle


Because Wagyu beef is such a prized culinary delicacy, it is not surprising that the process of raising Wagyu cattle is one that relies on a combination of science, hard work, fastidiousness, and a deep respect for the animal. Wagyu beef is well-known for its strikingly tasty meat and the high degree of marbling that results in a succulent melt-in-your-mouth experience. In fact, the fat in Wagyu beef is primarily monounsaturated fat that melts at room temperature. This makes Wagyu beef the perfect meat for those who have to subscribe to low-cholesterol diets.

Wagyu or, literally, Japanese cow, refers to several of Japan’s domestic beef breeds. These include Japanese red, Japanese black, Japanese polled black, and Japanese short-horn. Japanese black is the most numerous, comprising almost 95 percent of the total Wagyu inventory in Japan. Japanese black is horned, medium in size, has brown or black hair, and fetches high prices for its tender, flavorful meat with extensive fat marbling.

In Japan, where raising Wagyu cattle originated, there are several important factors and processes that are adhered to. First, pure breeding is followed; crossbreeding occurs but only rarely. The process of raising Wagyu cattle involves two independent operations: the cow-calf operation and the fattening operation. Cow-calf operation is done in many small farms through artificial insemination. The fattening of the cows occurs through long-term grain feeding. The cow-calf operation occurs between 0 months (calving) and 8 to 10 months, when the cows are sold at auction. The cows are then fattened up before they are slaughtered between 28 to 30 months. Long grain feeding is performed from 19 to 20 months at small-lot or individually managed farms. This part of raising Wagyu cattle results in cows that have bigger finishing weight and more extensive degrees of marbling.

Those who practice the traditional methods of raising Wagyu cattle have a few trade “secrets”. These include feeding the cows beer to increase their appetite. In the months of August, September, and October, cows tend to lose their appetites because of the intense heat. To combat this, farmers give each cow a bottle of beer every day until its appetite returns. Farmers also give the cows regular massages with oil to increase the distribution of the subcutaneous fat in the meat. This results in more tender Wagyu beef. Other management practices include restricting the cows’ levels of exercise to prevent their meat from becoming tough, and feeding the animals a high-energy, low-bulk diet. These lead to a carcass that has cherry red meat with a high degree of fine marbling and pure white fat.

The production of high-quality Wagyu beef depends on a breeding system that involves the selection of high-performance bulls and the broad utilization of superbulls, as well as a fattening technique that relies on consistent research and development and sophisticated management. These practices that are employed in raising Wagyu cattle result in the tastiest, most succulent, and most tender meat that is preferred by chefs, food experts, and gourmands all over the world.



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