Other common names: Japanese Black Wagyu; Kobe Beef; Tajima cattle; Tajima; Tajima Wagyu: Tottori; Shimane; Okayam
The Japanese Black Cattle is the most common breed of "Wagyu" Cattle, and accounts for more than 80% of Wagyu beef that is bred commercially. "Wagyu" refers to several breeds of cattle developed in Japan which are genetically predisposed to producing meat which has intense marbling and a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. Depending on location, there are several types of Japanese Black Cattle: Tottori; Tajima; Shimane; and Okayama. Kobe beef, considered by many to be the premier tasting beef in the world, comes from the Tajima type of Japanese Black (Wagyu) Cattle in Hyogo Prefecture.
According to the The History of Kobe Beef in Japan, "The four modern Japanese breeds are the result of a substantial infusion of European blood during the Meiji Era, together with a government-sponsored selection programme initiated in 1919. For several decades prior to 1910, there was a great interest in importing European breeds to cross with native cattle."
"In order to protect its domestic beef industry, the Japanese government imposed strict laws that prohibited the export of any living Japanese Wagyu cattle. However, in 1976, four Wagyu animals were imported into the U.S.: two Tottori Black Wagyu and two Kumamoto Red Wagyu bulls. Then in 1993, two male and three female Tajima cattle were imported, and 35 male and female cattle (consisting of both red and black Wagyu) were imported in 1994."
In the United States, most of the American raised Wagyu are crossbred, or "percentage" Wagyu. "Percentage Wagyu" may be F1 or first generation (50% Wagyu); F2 (75% Wagyu) and F3 (87% Wagyu). The American herd size of Fullblood Wagyu, or 100% Wagyu, is quite small compared to the Japanese or Australian herds. In the United States, the most common Wagyu cross has been to the Angus Cattle. The meat of the Angus Cattle x Japanese Black (Wagyu) Cattle Cross provided the balance of marbling and red meat desired by American buyers. This crossbreed has been named American Style Kobe Beef.
Appearance / health:
Japanese Black (Wagyu) Cattle have an appearance which is similar to Angus Cattle, except that they are horned and lighter in the rump and legs. In the U.S., most Wagyu are de-horned. Mature bulls can weigh over 2,000 pounds.
exceptiona, carcass traits
peculiar looking bulls, Yamamoto Beef Company
An Intriguing Breed
When I came to Iowa in 2000 for the National Junior Angus Show, I made a point to visit Hawkeye Breeders in Adel, Iowa for a tour. While there I encountered a few peculiar looking bulls that where black hided, lighter muscled, and had horns. I remember thinking to myself, who in the world would want to breed these. After I returned to Iowa in 2002 to attend Iowa State University, I made a point to drop in at Hawkeye Breeders from time to time to see what bulls where in. Every time I stopped in it seemed like there was two bulls that was always there, Michifuku and Who Made Who. The first time I saw Michifuku he was already an old bull. Come to find out he was one of the highest marbling bulls available in the US, and the Waygu breed was known for producing some of the best beef in the world.
Later I was afforded the opportunity to go to a workshop at A-Z feeders, whom worked with Yamamoto Beef Company that had spent a great deal of effort to import the Takeda herd from Japan. I got to look at several bulls there and some halfbloods that where being feed out for beef. I was told that Mr. Takeda was asked on as a consultant to Yamamoto Beef and from time to time was asked to come from Japan to hand select the herdsires for the program. Much of the success of the Waygu breed lies in the way that they are fed, but they seem to have an extreme predisposition for producing exceptional carcass traits. Part of the tour was to a packing plant where they processed the Waygu beef that they produced. The carcasses had as much marbling as I have ever seen in a carcass, and considering that I took a class on meats evaluation, I had seen a fair share of beef carcasses. I should mention that they had to use a specialty processor to handle larger carcass weights, because they fed these animals longer and to larger weights. At the end of day they fed us one of their lower grade steaks. As a connoisseur of fine beef, the steak lived up to its hype. Around the same time I was asked to photograph some Waygu bulls at Hawkeye Breeders. It made for an interesting project.
I admit that I still trying to wrap my head around the appearance of the cattle, but you certainly cannot argue with the results. It is my understanding that the growth rate is slow, and the muscle pattern is lower, which I believe contributes to their carcass traits and longevity. I was also told by the guy that owned Hawkeye Breeders (who has since passed on) that the Waygu was incredibly fertile.
If you are trying to add value to a beef business or are looking for a premium for your calves, you might very well consider Waygu. If you would like more information about the Waygu cattle I would definitely recommend that you look up Alan Zellmer with A-Z Feeders in Atlantic, Iowa. If you would like the contact I would be glad to round it up for you..
From shmac84 Mar 8 2013 3:28PM