Wagyu (和牛 Wagyū, "Japanese cow") is any of four Japanese breeds of beef cattle, the most desired of which is genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat. The meat from such wagyu cattle is known for its quality, and commands a high price.
There are four breeds of wagyu: Japanese Black (黒毛和種 Kuroge Washu), Japanese Brown (赤毛和種 Akage Washu or Akaushi), Japanese Polled (無角和種 Mukaku Washu), and Japanese Shorthorn (日本短角和種 Nihon Tankaku Washu). Wagyu cattle's genetic predisposition yields a beef that contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than typical beef. The increased marbling also increases the ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats.
Japanese Black makes up 90% of all fattened cattle in Japan. Strains of Japanese Black include Tottori, Tajima, Shimane and Okayama. Japanese Brown, also known as Japanese Red, is the other main breed; strains include Kochi and Kumamoto. Japanese Shorthorn makes up less than one percent of all cattle in Japan.
The Australian Wagyu Association is the largest breed association outside Japan. Both fullblood and Wagyu-cross cattle are farmed in Australia for domestic and overseas markets, including Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the U.K., France, Germany, Denmark and the U.S. Australian Wagyu cattle are grain fed for the last 300–500 days of production. Wagyu bred in Western Australia's Margaret River region often have red wine added to their feed as well.
In the United States, Japanese Wagyu cattle are bred with Angus cattle. This crossbreed has been named American Style Kobe Beef. Wagyu were first competitively exhibited at the National Western Stock Show in 2012. Some U.S. Wagyu breeders have full blooded animals directly descended from original Japanese bloodlines, and are registered through the American Wagyu Association.
Wagyu cattle farming in Canada appeared after 1991 when the Canadian Wagyu Association was formed. Wagyu style cattle and farms in Canada are found only in Alberta, Ontario and Prince Edward Island. Canadian Wagyu beef products are exported to the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Europe.
In 2008 a herd of Wagyu cattle was imported to North Yorkshire, with the first produce becoming available in 2011. In 2015 the Yorkshire Wagyu Company began selling the beef directly to consumers.
The firm Highland Wagyu was established in 2011 and is based at Blackford Farms in Dunblane, Scotland. The company acquired a herd of 300 Wagyu cattle to add to its existing herd of 250 in July 2013 and became the largest producer of Fullblood Wagyu beef in the UK with plans to make Scotland the Wagyu centre of Europe.
The Wagyu Breeders Association Ltd was established in July 2014 by a group of Wagyu breeders and enthusiasts from around the UK.
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