In several areas of Japan, Wagyu beef is shipped carrying area names. Some examples are Matsusaka beef, Kobe beef, Yonezawa beef, Mishima beef, Ōmi beef, and Sanda beef. In recent years, Wagyu beef has increased in fat percentage due to decrease in grazing and an increase in using feed, resulting in larger, fattier cattle.
Japanese Wagyu is known to have very fine marbling. Japanese Wagyu is graded by how much meat comes from the cow: Grade A means a high yield of usable meat, Grade B means an average yield, and Grade C means a low yield of usable meat. Each grade is then numbered 1 through 5 (3 being average and 5 being superior) to indicate how evenly the intermuscular fat is distributed, the color of the meat, and the quality of the fat.
There are four breeds of Wagyu: Japanese Black (黒毛和種, Kuroge Washu), Japanese Polled (無角和種, Mukaku Washu), Japanese Brown (赤毛和種, Akage Washu or Akaushi) and Japanese Shorthorn (日本短角和種, Nihon Tankaku Washu).
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 Aberdeen 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, Quebec and Prince Edward Island. Canadian Wagyu beef products are exported to the U.S. (including Hawaii), Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.
The Wagyu Breeders Association Ltd was established in July 2014.
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