ORIGINS OF THE WAGYU BREED
Wagyu a Japanese beef breed was introduced to Australia in 1991 and has generated widespread interest. When Wagyu are crossed with Angus, Murray Grey, Shorthorn and Holstein cattle the superior B3 meat produced is highly regarded in Japan.
Breed origins and lines:
Japanese Wagyu derived from native Asian cattle which were infused with British and European breeds in the late 1800s. Although the breed was closed to outside bloodlines in 1910, regional isolation has produced a number of different lines with varying conformations.
Tajima originating from the Hyogo prefecture. These black cattle were used to pull carts and ploughs so they developed larger forequarters and lighter hindquarters. They are generally smaller-framed with slower growth rates but produce excellent meat quality with large eye muscle and superior marbling. They are thought to be ideal for the production of F1 cattle for slaughter. The Tajima bloodlines are generally regarded as producing the best quality meat in all of Japan.
Kedaka or Tottori These were pack animals in the grain industry so they are larger animals with straight, strong backlines and generally good growth rates but sometimes variable meat quality.
Fujiyoshi or Shimane These are medium framed cattle with average growth rate and good quality meat and are suited to crossing with Angus.
Kumamoto These red lines have the Simmental influence.
The production of Wagyu beed in Japan is highly regulated and progeny testing is mandatory. Only the very best proven genetics are kept for breeding.
Realising the value of their unique product, The Japanese Government banned the export of Wagyu and declared them a national treasure. However in 1976, four bulls were mysteriously exported to the United States and Wagyu were graded up from the US cow herd. With recent imports from Japan, Australian Wagyu bloodlines now are amongst the best in the world.
Australia currently supplies 30 percent of the Japanese market requirement about 1 million carcases annually. Wagyu beef has the potential to corner at least three-quarter of this market with B3 or better carcases. Market growth to Japan will be in boxed beef, fed to specifications in Australia because feeding capacity in that country is limited.
Marbling in beef cattle is moderately heritable 0.38 and therefore likely to respond to selection.
It is measured in the carcase by video image analysis or as percentage chemical fat. Marbling begins at about 12 months of age and is maxmised by 24 months therefore. Wagyu are ideally slaughtered as over 2-year olds.
Measurement to identify the best marbling Wagyu lines in the live animal and progeny carcases are ideally linked and evaluated with Breedplan technology to exclude environmental effects such as feeding. However if marbling is associated with a single major gene or marker gene, molecular geneticists can identify marbling potential before puberty and thereby hasten identification of the best marbling Wagyu lines.
Softer fat characteristics:
Wagyu has a softer fat which improves the meat flavour and taste and is sought after by the Japanese. The improvement is due to the higher ratio of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) to saturated fatty acids. Significantly higher ratios of unsaturated (oleate) to saturated (palmitate) fats in Wagyu compared with Angus have been reported.
Growth performance & puberty Trials measuring the growth performance and carcase characteristics of F1 Wagyu/Angus and Angus steers showed no significant differences between breeds for birth, wean and 600-day weight. However the marble score for F1 Wagyu/Angus was 2.8 compared with 2.0 for Angus after 103 days feeding. Wagyu is an early-marturing breed. F1 Wagyu/Angus heifers reach early puberty at 12.5 months compared with Angus heifers at 14 months.
Conformation and temperament Wagyu is a horned breed and can be either black or red. As with Angus cattle, the red colour is a recessive gene. Black animals are perceived to have the best quality carcase. In Japan 10 % of the Wagyu herd are red. Wagyu have a docile temperament as they have been developed with intensive handling.
Production strengths - calving ease early puberty and good fertility, docile temperament, hardy and adaptive to different environments.
A Bos taurus-base dam of Angus, Murray Grey, Shorthorn or Holstein producing F1 Wagyu will be mostly sufficient to produce a B3 carcass with MS of 3-4. Bos indicus/Brahman or European cross animals usually require a second-cross Wagyu to achieve consistent B3 grading.
This has been set up to get the maximum benefit for producers. Other private Marketing contacts also are available to Wagyu Producers.
The association is looking at the Japanese registration system of grading by progeny performance.
To evaluate inherent performance indicators while excluding environmental effects, the Australia Breedplan system is available to Wagyu breeders.
With the recent inclusion of estimated breeding values of marbling,
this evaluation system has become even more relevant to wagyu breeders.
.. Black Gold Farms - Specialising in Wagyu Cattle ..