|Conservation status||FAO (2007): critical|
|Other names||Japanese: 見島牛|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|Distribution||Mishima Island, Yamaguchi|
|Horn status||horned in both sexes|
|designated as a National Treasure|
The Mishima (Japanese: 見島牛, Mishima ushi) is a critically-endangered Japanese breed of beef cattle. It is found only on Mishima Island, some 50 km north-west of Hagi, in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. It is one of six native Japanese cattle breeds, and one of two small populations that have never been cross-bred with Western cattle, the other being the Kuchinoshima breed from Kuchinoshima island in the Tokara Island group.:51
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. Among the various heterogeneous regional populations that resulted from this brief period of cross-breeding, four separate strains were characterised, and were recognised as breeds in 1944. These were the four wagyū breeds, the Japanese Black, the Japanese Brown and the Japanese Polled and the Japanese Shorthorn.:8
The Mishima is one of two small isolated groups which escaped the process of hybridisation; the other is the Kuchinoshima breed from Kuchinoshima island in the Tokara Island group. Together they represent the only surviving remnant of the native cattle population of Japan.:51
- Breed data sheet: Mishima/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.
- [National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences] (2005). Country Report: Japan[permanent dead link], 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Mishima-Ushi. NODAI Genome Research Center, Tokyo University of Agriculture. Accessed January 2017.
- 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.
- John W. Longworth (1983). Beef in Japan. St. Lucia [Brisbane, Queensland]; New York: University of Queensland Press. ISBN 9780702219658.