|Conservation status||FAO (2007): critical|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Horn status||hornless in both sexes|
The Japanese Polled (Japanese: 無角和種, Mukaku Washu) is a critically-endangered breed of small Japanese beef cattle. It is one of six native Japanese cattle breeds, and one of the four Japanese breeds known as wagyū, the others being the Japanese Black, the Japanese Brown and the Japanese Shorthorn.:420 All wagyū cattle derive from cross-breeding in the early twentieth century of native Japanese cattle with imported stock, mostly from Europe.:5 In the case of the Japanese Polled, the principal foreign influence was from the Scottish Angus breed.
Cattle were brought to Japan from China at the same time as the cultivation of rice, in about the second century AD, in the Yayoi period.:209 Until about the time of the Meiji Restoration in 1868, they were used only as draught animals, in agriculture, forestry, mining and for transport, and as a source of fertiliser. Milk consumption was unknown, and – for cultural and religious reasons – meat was not eaten. Cattle were highly prized and valuable, too expensive for a poor farmer to buy.:2
Japan was effectively isolated from the rest of the world from 1635 until 1854; there was no possibility of intromission of foreign genes to the cattle population during this time. Between 1868, the year of the Meiji Restoration, and 1887, some 2600 foreign cattle were imported. At first there was little interest in cross-breeding these with native stock, but from about 1900 it became widespread. It ceased abruptly in 1910, when it was realised that, while the cross-breeds might be larger and have better dairy qualities, their working capacity and meat quality was lower. From 1919, the various heterogeneous regional populations that resulted from this brief period of cross-breeding were registered and selected as "Improved Japanese Cattle". Four separate strains were characterised, based mainly on which type of foreign cattle had most influenced the hybrids, and were recognised as breeds in 1944. These were the four wagyū breeds, the Japanese Polled, the Japanese Black, the Japanese Brown and the Japanese Shorthorn.:8
The conservation status of the Japanese Polled was listed by the FAO as "critical" in 2007.:71 In 1978 the total population was reported to be 2242; in 2008 it was 132. Although not at risk of immediate extinction, the breed is in need of emergency measures for its protection. The Japanese Polled Public Corporation has been set up by the administration of Yamaguchi Prefecture to protect and preserve the breed and its genetic resources.:45
The Japanese Polled is black; both sexes are polled, without horns.
- Breed data sheet: Japanese Polled/Japan. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed January 2017.
- Breeds reported by Japan: Cattle. Domestic Animal Diversity Information System of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Accessed January 2017.
- T. Muramoto, M. Higashiyama, T. Kondo (2005). Effect of pasture finishing on beef quality of Japanese Polled steers. Asian-Australian Journal of Animal Science 18: 420-426.
- Kiyoshi Namikawa (2016 ). Breeding history of Japanese beef cattle and preservation of genetic resources as economic farm animals. Kyoto: Wagyu Registry Association. Accessed January 2017.
- Valerie Porter, Lawrence Alderson, Stephen J.G. Hall, D. Phillip Sponenberg (2016). Mason's World Encyclopedia of Livestock Breeds and Breeding (sixth edition). Wallingford: CABI. ISBN 9781780647944.
- Barbara Rischkowsky, D. Pilling (eds.) (2007). List of breeds documented in the Global Databank for Animal Genetic Resources, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed January 2017.
- [National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences] (2005). Country Report: Japan, annex to The State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. ISBN 9789251057629. Accessed January 2017.