Wagyu Cattle Beef

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Information For The Wagyu Steak Connoisseur

What is Wagyu beef?  How do you cook Wagyu steak? What are the health benefits of Wagyu?  These questions and more are answered here.

What Is Wagyu Cattle Beef

Regardless of what breed or what location, Wagyu cattle are known for their intense marbling which creates a unique rich flavor, tender beef and juiciness.  Waqyu cattle are reported to have 17% more intra muscular fat than Angus cattle.  

It takes an average of 30-32 months to raise a Wagyu cattle to slaughter.  This is approximately twice as long as American feedlot cattle

All of this makes Wagyu cattle beef a much sought after and expensive product.


Japanese Wagyu Cattle

Wagyu cattle were introduced to Japan sometime in the second century.  The purpose of their introduction was as labor animals for farming.  Cattle with high intra muscular fat was preferred because the the built in readily available energy source for the working cattle. It was not until the late 1800’s that Wagyu cattle became popular as a consumable beef product.

Japanese breed names include: Tajima, Tottori, Shimane, Kochi and Kumamoto. The names  that we are most familiar with originate form the region that the Wagyu cattle is produced not the breed. Kumamoto Prefecture for example is known for their red wagyū cattle. The more famous black variety is produced in Kobe and hence the ever present name Kobe Beef. It is important to understand that Kobe, for example is not a breed of Wagyu Cattle but the region that Japanese Black Tajima is produced.

The breeds and their characteristics are:

Tajiri or Tajima -- come  from the Hyogo prefecture, these Japanese black cattle were originally used to pull carts and ploughs so the developed larger forequarters and lighter hindquarters. They are generally smaller framed with slower growth rates, but produce excellent meat quality with superior marbling.

The Tajima bloodlines produce what is recognized as the best meat in all of Japan.

Fujiyoshi or Shimane -- from the Okayama prefecture are medium sized cattle with average growth and excellent meat .

Tottori -- from the Tottori prefecture were originally pack animals in the grain fields. They are larger animals with high growth rates. However, their meat quality is inconsistent. They are often used as a milking cow.

Kochi and Kumamoto, are the red Wagyu cattle.  They have been strongly influenced by Korean and European breeds.

In the past, Japan did some experimenting with crossing the traditional Wagyu breeds with other beef cattle.  However, Japan quickly realized the unique nature of true Wagyu cattle and now strives to maintain the purest blood line of Wagyu cattle possible.

Japanese Wagyu is traditionally raised and in some areas, the Wagyu Cattle are fed beer (to stimulate their appetite) and massaged (to distribute subcutaneous fat).

Japanese Wagyu cattle produce some of the finest and most expensive beef in the world

Australian Wagyu Cattle

Because of the geographic proximity to Japan, Japanese Wagyu producers who need more room to raise herds started raising the cattle in Australia.

Australia does not have the ideal climate for raising Wagyu cattle, however, Australia has the room necessary and thus has become the second largest worldwide producer of Wagyu cattle.

In Australia, both pure blood and cross bred Wagyu cattle are raised.  The first Wagyu cattle were brought to Australia in the early 1990’s.

Australian Wagyu is grain fed for the last 300-500 days before slaughter.

American Wagyu Cattle

American style Wagyu beef as it has become known is beef from Wagyu Cattle cross bred with Angus cattle.  The reasons behind this cross are part economic , part environmental and part consumer taste.

From an economic standpoint, the cross produces stronger cattle able to withstand rigorous feeding and birth to slaughter timetable that American producers prefer.

From an environmental standpoint the cross is necessary due to the temperatures of the cattle producing regions in the United States.

From the standpoint of consumer tastes, the cross was done to make the meat a little less white.  US consumers are not used to their steaks having so much marbling and the cross made the meat a little more red than pure Wagyu cattle beef.

Wagyu cattle are a horned breed and are either black or red in color.

Now, there are many different Wagyu cattle breeds around the world.  The major Wagyu breeds are grouped into three categories.  Japanese Wagyu, Australian Wagyu and American Wagyu.  Each group is composed of several different breeds of Wagyu cattle some hybrids and all with varying characteristics.

Traditionally, Wagyu cattle were a breed and raised only Japan. There are five pure breeds of wagyū: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled, Japanese Shorthorn, and Kumamoto Reds.

The term Wagyu, today refers to a number of different breeds of beef cattle. The word Wagyu is defined as Japanese cattle, Wa ,meaning “Japanese” and Gyu, meaning “cattle”