Wagyu

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Japanese Black cattle of the Tajima strain on a farm in northern Hyōgo Prefecture
High-grade sliced Matsusaka wagyu beef
Wagyu authentication

Wagyu (Japanese: 和牛, Hepburn: wagyū, lit.'Japanese cattle') is the collective name for the four principal Japanese breeds of beef cattle. All wagyū cattle derive from cross-breeding in the early twentieth century of native Japanese cattle with imported stock, mostly from Europe.[1]: 5 

Wagyu beef is one of the most expensive meats in the world.[2] It features marbling, meaning that streaks of fat exist within the red meat that make it tender and moist, while adding flavor. Wagyu beef is often known by different names depending on its place of origin. In several Japanese prefectures, Wagyu beef is shipped with an area name; examples include Matsusaka beef, Kobe beef from the Tajima cattle, Yonezawa beef and Ōmi beef. In recent years, Wagyu beef has increased in fat percentage due to a decrease in grazing and an increase in the use of feed, resulting in larger, fattier cattle.[3][4][5]

Definition[edit]

Wagyu means "Japanese cattle" and is not the name of a breed of cattle. Japanese native cattle became almost extinct after the Meiji Restoration (1868), mainly as a result of crossbreeding with European breeds, with exceptions such as the Mishima cattle. There are only a few hundred Japanese native cattle, and meat from these cattle is rarely sold on the market. Therefore, Wagyu today refers to four breeds called improved Wagyu (改良和牛, kairyō wagyū) that have been established as fixed breeds through crossbreeding with European breeds.

The rich marbling that is considered a characteristic of Wagyu is actually a feature of the Japanese Black breed, and not of the other three breeds. This is often misunderstood because the Japanese Black currently accounts for 97% of all Wagyu raised in Japan.[6]

In 2001, bovine spongiform encephalopathy was reported in Japanese cattle and became a major social problem. Since then, the testing and registration of cattle in Japan has been tightened. Since 2007, only four breeds of kairyō washu and their crossbreds, as well as cattle born, raised, and duly registered in Japan, are allowed to be labeled as Wagyu for meat.[7]

Western breeds such as Holstein and Jersey are also raised in Japan for dairy cattle. When meat from these cattle is sold in Japan, it must be labeled "domestic beef" (国産牛), not "Wagyu." [7]

Origin[edit]

Wagyu show in Sasebo, Japan

In 1927, fossils of an ancient wild cattle, Hanaizumi Moriushi (Leptobison hanaizumiensis), dating from the Paleolithic period about 20,000 years ago, were discovered at the Hanaizumi Site in Ichinoseki City, Iwate Prefecture. The Hanaizumi Moriushi is a species similar to the bison and is said to be close to the steppe bison (Bison priscus) lineage. Fossil bones of Aurochs (Bos primigenius) have also been found in Ichinoseki City.[8] Since Hokkaido and Honshu were land-locked with the Eurasian continent during the Ice Age, these animals came from the continent via Hokkaido.

In addition, projectile points made from polished wild cattle bones have been found at the same site, although in small quantities, suggesting that humans existed during this period and that hanaizumi moriushi and aurochs were hunted.[8]

At the Ohama Site in Goto City, Nagasaki Prefecture, cattle teeth dating to the middle Yayoi period were excavated.[9] Among them were also processed cattle molars. However, this excavation was controversial because it contradicted the statement in the Wajinden in Chen Shou's Records of the Three Kingdoms that there were no cattle or horses in Japan.[10] Later, radiocarbon dating of the excavated cattle molars yielded a date of around 40 AD (±90 years).[11]

Cow-shaped haniwa
Cow-shaped haniwa
Map
Wagyu Prefectures
1
Miyazaki Prefecture
2
Hokkaido
3
Kagoshima Prefecture
4
Shiga Prefecture
5
Miyagi Prefecture
6
Gifu Prefecture
7
Kumamoto Prefecture
8
Hyogo Prefecture
9
Kagawa Prefecture

However, some in the Japanese archaeological community remain skeptical about the presence of cattle in Japan during the Yayoi period, and there is a persistent view that they were brought to Japan from the Korean peninsula by the toraijin, a group of people who came to Japan in the mid-5th century during the Kofun period. At the Nango-Ōhigashi site in Gose City, Nara Prefecture, excavations revealed cow bones believed to date back to the 5th century. At the Funamiya Kofun Tumulus (late 5th century) in Asago City, Hyogo Prefecture, pieces of a cow-shaped haniwa (clay figurine), believed to be the oldest in Japan, have been excavated. In addition, a cow-shaped haniwa was excavated from the Hashida No. 1 Tumulus in Tawaramoto Town, Shiki-gun, Nara Prefecture in the first half of the 6th century, and was designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan in 1958.[12]

On the other hand, recent genetic studies have shown that Wagyu and Korean cattle (Hanwoo and others) differ greatly in their genetic information. Livestock cattle are divided into two major lineages: northern lineage cattle (Bos taurus) and Indian lineage cattle (Bos indicus), and both Wagyu and Korean cattle belong to the northern lineage and do not contain Indian lineage such as Zebu cattle.[13]

However, in terms of mitochondrial DNA sequence haplogroups, haplogroup T4 (East Asian type) is predominant in the Wagyu (Japanese Black) at about 65%, while haplogroup T3 (European type) is predominant in Korean cattle at 66-83%.[13][14]

T4 is a haplogroup unique to East Asia that is not observed in Near Eastern, European, and African cattle, and T3 is the predominant haplogroup in European cattle, but T3 is also predominant in Korean cattle. This means that the present breed of Korean cattle is not the main ancestor of the Wagyu.

In addition, haplogroup P has also been detected in about 46% of the Japanese Shorthorn.[15] has been detected in many extinct European aurochs, but has only been found in a total of three current livestock cattle, one Chinese and two Korean, out of several thousand individuals in the database.

The Japanese Shorthorn was created by crossing the Nanbu cattle bred in the former Nanbu Domain territory in northeastern Japan (present-day Iwate Prefecture) with Shorthorns and other breeds imported from the United States, but P has not been detected in Shorthorns and is thought to be derived from the Nanbu cattle.[15]

Fossils of Hanaizumi Moriushi and Aurochs have been found in Iwate Prefecture, but it is unclear if the Nanbu cattle were related to these. Haplogroup P has also been found in Chinese and Korean cattle, but it is extremely rare compared to T4. Therefore, it is suggested that the ancestors of the Nanbu cattle have a different origin from the ancestors of the Japanese Black in western Japan, where T4 is abundant, and that there is no single ancestor of the Wagyu.

History[edit]

Cattle were brought to Japan from the Korean Peninsula or China, but archaeological and genetic studies have proposed different dates for their arrival, ranging from around A.D. to the 5th century.

Nara period (710-794)[edit]

In 675, due to the influence of Buddhism, Emperor Tenmu issued a decree banning meat eating, and eating cattle was officially prohibited in Japan. However, a study of human excrement excavated from the Heijo Palace site has revealed that Japanese people in the Nara period (710–794) continued to eat cattle even after the prohibition.[16] In addition, the Yoro Code (757) stipulates that when a government-owned horse and ox dies, it should be dismembered and the skin, brain, horns, and gall bladder removed, and if there is calculus bovis (gallstones), it should be delivered to the state.[17] The Yoro Code also includes provisions for the sale of the hides and meat of horses and cattle, and there were distribution channels throughout Japan for buying and selling these items during the Nara period.

Heian and Kamakura period (794-1333)[edit]

"Swift Bull"
"Swift Bull," 13th century

During the Heian period (794 - 1185), the main use of cattle was for bullock carts. Cattle that excelled in this use were called sun-gyū (駿牛, swift bulls) and were regarded as excellent bulls. Owning such an excellent bull became a source of pride for the aristocrats of Japan at that time.

The "Pictorial Record of Swift Bulls" (駿牛絵詞) which is believed to have been written around 1279, is said to be the world's oldest specialized book on bulls.[18] In the same book, the names of 52 bulls are listed as swift bulls. At the time, the cattle from Iki Island in present-day Nagasaki Prefecture had the highest reputation as swift bulls, but they were temporarily destroyed by the Mongolian army during the Mongolian invasion, which killed them and used them as food.

From the Kamakura period (1185–1333) to the Muromachi period (1336–1573), farming using cattle and horses became popular mainly in western Japan, contributing greatly to the development of agriculture. In a complaint by a farmer in 1423, describing the wrongdoing of a manor administrator, the fact that the farmer owned cattle and used them for farming is mentioned.[19]

Edo period (1603-1867)[edit]

Wagyu depicted in Ukiyo-e. From "The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Kaidō" by Hiroshige Utagawa.
Wagyu depicted in Ukiyo-e. From "The Sixty-nine Stations of the Kiso Kaidō" by Hiroshige Utagawa.

Until about the time of the Meiji Restoration in 1868, cattle were used only as draught animals, in agriculture, forestry, mining and for transport, and as a source of fertilizer. 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.[1]: 2 

Japan was effectively isolated from the rest of the world from 1635 until 1854; there was no possibility of the intromission of foreign genes to the cattle population during this time.

In western Japan during the Edo period (1603–1867), superior cattle were produced by aggressive inbreeding, and the superior bloodlines were called "tsuru" (, lit.'vine'), and cattle with superior bloodlines (tsuru-ushi, lit.'vine cattle') were traded at high prices.[20] Famous tsuru include the Takenotani tsuru (Okayama Prefecture), Bokura tsuru (Shimane Prefecture), Iwakura tsuru (Hiroshima Prefecture), and Shusuke tsuru (Hyogo Prefecture). In Japan, where meat eating was frowned upon and the use of milk was not widespread, cows in the Edo period were basically work cattle that plowed the fields, so a good cow in this period meant one that was healthy and obedient.

Image of "tsuru" and "tsuru-ushi"
Image of "tsuru" and "tsuru-ushi"

The famous "Tajiri-go" bull was born from the "Atsuta tsuru," which is a descendant of the Shusuke tsuru. According to a survey conducted by the Japan Wagyu Registry Association, the pedigree was traced from a database of 718,969 Japanese black cattle mothers registered in Japan, and it was found that 718,330 or 99.9% of them are descended from the Tajiri-go.[21]

On the other hand, there are those who are concerned about the current situation in which only the Tajima cattle line represented by the Tajiri-go is spreading and genetic diversity is being lost from Wagyu, and the movement to revive the Takenotani tsuru has been attracting attention in recent years.[22]

In 1859, Japan opened the port of Yokohama in accordance with the demands of Western nations. At the same time, a foreign settlement was established in Yokohama. Foreign residents sought cattle for meat from neighboring villages but were refused, so cattle were imported from the U.S., China, and Korea, which gradually became unable to meet the demand.

In 1865, before the Port of Kobe was opened, the Hyogo Port Opening Demand Incident occurred, in which nine warships from Britain, France, the Netherlands, and the United States invaded Hyogo Port demanding its opening. At that time, sailors negotiated with local cattle merchants for cattle, which were initially slaughtered on board, but as demand increased, it became necessary to slaughter them on land. 1866 saw the first slaughter of cattle by foreigners in the pine forests of Cape Wadamisaki.[23] In this way, foreign ships bought 30 or 40 cows at a time in Kobe before the port opened and brought them to Yokohama, where "Kobe beef" (actually Tajima beef) became well known for its delicious taste.[23]

Modern times[edit]

Ukiyo-e depicting the Port of Kobe after its opening
Ukiyo-e depicting the Port of Kobe after its opening

In January 1868, when the new port of Kobe opened east of the Hyogo Port, the Kobe foreign settlement was established. In 1868, Englishman Edward Charles Kirby established the first slaughterhouse in Kobe, and in 1869, a sukiyaki restaurant called "Gekka-tei" opened in Kobe.[23][24]

According to a newspaper article in 1875, Kobe was the first place where meat eating was popular, with 800 cows slaughtered in a month. Next was Yokohama with 600, followed by Tokyo with 500, and Osaka and Nagoya with 300.[25]

The reputation of Wagyu beef as having a superior taste spread from the residents of the foreign settlement to the Japanese, and it was written in books of the time that "Wagyu beef has a better taste than foreign beef"[26] and "there has never been beef as good as Kobe's beef".[27]

At the same time, however, it was also believed that Wagyu were superior to Western breeds for plowing use but inferior in milk and meat production, and their improvement was urgently needed.[28]

Between 1868, the year of the Meiji Restoration, and 1887, some 2600 foreign cattle were imported.[1]: 7  At first, there was little interest in cross-breeding these with the native stock, but from about 1900, it became widespread.

In 1900, the Japanese government established a committee to investigate the improvement of cattle breeding, and began a systematic crossbreeding program between Wagyu and Western breeds. The Ayrshire and Simmental breeds were imported first, followed by the Brown Swiss, but few people wanted to crossbreed with them because of their large size, and the Japanese government encouraged it, but the crossbreds were very unpopular. [29]

The crossbreds' oversized stature made them inconvenient for Japan's narrow arable land, and their movements were slow and sluggish, and their temperaments were rough and lacking in obedience. They also had poor meat quality and were condemned from all quarters as being unsuitable for sukiyaki.[29] As a result, from around 1907, there were no more crossbreds being bred, and in reaction, the old black cattle were considered good, and as long as they were small and black, they could be sold.[29]

As crossbreeding with Western breeds progressed, the term "pure Wagyu" (純粋和牛, junsui Wagyū)[30][31] emerged to describe native Japanese cattle, and by 1912, it was claimed that there were two definitions of Wagyu: "pure Wagyu" and "improved Wagyu" (改良和牛, kairyō Wagyū).[32]

At the time, Mendel's laws had just been rediscovered, and both the Japanese government and cattle farmers lacked sufficient knowledge of genetics. The unpopularity of crossbred cattle led to the Japanese government's decision in 1911 to suspend plans to purchase Brown Swiss and Simmental cattle. In 1912, the Japanese government decided to formally end its policy of encouraging crossbreeding by announcing that crossbreeding between Wagyu and European breeds had been sufficiently successful.[33] From then on, Wagyu improvement was based on pure Wagyu and improved Wagyu (crossbred cattle).

"Fukutomi-go," one of the first Improved Japanese Breeds to win the first prize (1912)
"Fukutomi-go," one of the first Improved Japanese Breeds to win the first prize (1912)

In October 1912, when the 6th Chugoku Six Prefectures United Livestock Breeders' Show was held in Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture, two crossbred bulls won the first prize as "Improved Japanese Breeds" (改良和種, kairyō washu) and the name "Improved Japanese Breed" came into use thereafter. [34] Thereafter, organized breeding efforts to increase the number of superior Wagyu cattle began.

According to a survey conducted in 1914, there were 61 different breeds of Wagyu in Japan at that time, including Tajima cattle, Iwaizumi cattle, Mishima cattle, Aso cattle, and others.[35] However, these were not actual breeds, but only names of regional classifications.

In the case of Hyogo Prefecture, the leading producer of Wagyu cattle (Kobe cattle and Tajima cattle) at that time, the number of stud bulls owned by breed as of 1914 was as follows.

Number of stud bulls owned in Hyogo Prefecture by breed (1914) [36]
National Prefectural Publicly owned Private Total
Ayrshire Breed 30 5 17 52
Ayrshire Crossbreed 11 11
Brown Swiss Breed 5 5
Brown Swiss Crossbreed 4 4
Holstein Breed 18 18
Holstein Crossbreed 23 23
Jersey Crossbreed 1 1
Improved Japanese Breed 1 13 57 2 73
Japanese Breed 71 16 87
Total 1 52 133 88 274

Even after the Meiji era when hybrid cattle were encouraged, there were still a considerable number of pure Wagyu cattle remaining in the Taisho era (1912–1926). As a policy for the improvement of Wagyu, efforts were made to eliminate negative characteristics of hybrid cattle as much as possible. Specifically, the elimination of sudare (tiger stripes), nori-kuchi (grayish-white lips), unagi-sen (different fur color on the dorsal line), white spots, etc.[37] On the other hand, both pure and improved Wagyu cattle strived to improve their physique and weight, and from around the 1920s, the term "improved Wagyu" came to refer to all Wagyu cattle, including not only improved Wagyu but also pure Wagyu.

Around 1919, the examination and registration of Wagyu began mainly in western Japan, and pedigrees and body types began to be registered. Nine breeds were registered: Tajima, Bisaku, Hiroshima, Bocho, Shimane, Inhaku, Bungo, Kumamoto, and Kagoshima.[38] However, the examination and registration process was carried out by each prefecture, and the criteria for examination varied. Around 1925, the results of the improvements became visible: the negative characteristics of crossbreeding had almost disappeared from Wagyu cattle, and their size and weight had increased, and improvements in hindquarters were clearly visible.

"Tajiri-go," a famous bull of the Japanese black
"Tajiri-go," a famous bull of the Japanese black

In 1937, when the former Japan Livestock Industry Association became the central organization for the registration of cattle throughout Japan, the breed names of "Japanese Black," "Japanese Polled," and "Japanese Brown" were created in place of the above nine breeds.

Japanese brown

In 1944, it was officially decided to abolish the conventional name "Improved Japanese Breed" and call the breeds Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, and Japanese Polled, as the characteristics of each breed had been clarified as a result of improvements.[39] This meant that the three crossbreeds were recognized as fixed breeds. Then, in 1957, the Japanese Shorthorn was added. They are collectively known as Wagyu.

The Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) from 1986 to 1994, which set rules for liberalization of international trade, decided to liberalize imports of foreign beef to Japan. Beef imports have been liberalized since 1991. In FY1993, beef imports jumped 34% over the previous year, and as a result, Japan's beef self-sufficiency rate dropped below 50%.[40]

The liberalization of beef imports has brought about changes in Japan's domestic Wagyu beef production system. In order to compete with cheaper foreign beef, Japanese livestock farmers have become more biased toward raising the Japanese Black breed, which has a unique marbling characteristic. As a result, the number of the other three Wagyu breeds has decreased.

Following the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Japan, the Law for Special Measures Concerning the Management and Relay of Information for Individual Identification of Cattle (Beef Traceability Law) was enacted in 2003. This law stipulates the attachment of ear marks to cattle, the notification, recording, and storage of historical information from birth to beef, and the publication of recorded information on the Internet. In other words, it is possible to trace the history of all Japanese beef sold in Japan.[41]

Breeds and brands[edit]

Breeds[edit]

Wagyu grazing video

Wagyu[edit]

Most of today's Wagyu are improved Wagyu (改良和牛, kairyō wagyū) that have been fixed as breeds through crossbreeding with foreign breeds. There are four breeds of improved Wagyu as follows:[42]: 66 [43]: 420 [44]

Native Wagyu[edit]

Native Wagyu (在来和牛, zairai wagyū) are cattle from ancient Japan that have not been crossbred with foreign breeds. It is also called "Japanese breed," "pure Japanese breed," "pure Wagyu," etc. There are two breeds of native Wagyu as follows:

Brands[edit]

Kobe beef
Kobe beef
Kobe beef certificate

Today, each region in Japan has its own brand of Wagyu beef, numbering more than 320.[48] The first Wagyu beef to gain a reputation was Kobe beef, already famous since the 1860s and known to foreign countries through foreign residents.[49][50] Ōmi beef also had a reputation since the Meiji era (1868–1912) for its delicious taste.[51] In the Taisho era (1912–1926), Matsusaka beef also became well known.[52] These were originally Tajima cattle, and calves were purchased from the Tajima region, fattened in each region, and then sold.

In the Tokyo area, Yonezawa beef has also been known since the Meiji era.[50]

Since the 1980s, Wagyu beef branding has been promoted in various regions of Japan. However, the Japanese Trademark Law at the time did not allow for the establishment of regional collective trademarks, which posed a problem in terms of legal protection. Before the Beef Traceability Law (2003) was enacted, there were also issues regarding the verification of the origin, breeding location, and distribution of Wagyu beef.

In 2006, the Japanese Trademark Law was amended to recognize regional collective trademarks, allowing Wagyu beef to be registered as a "regional brand." In 2014, the Geographical Indications Law was passed, and the operation of Geographical Indications (GI) protection began in 2015. Currently, the GI-registered brands of Wagyu beef are as follows.[53]

  • Tajima Beef: Tajima beef is beef from the Tajima region of Hyogo Prefecture, and has a history of about 1,200 years.[54]
  • Kobe Beef: Kobe Beef is a brand given to the highest quality beef from Hyogo Prefecture's Tajima cattle and has a history of about 170 years.[55]
  • Special Matsusaka Beef: Special Matsuzaka Beef (Tokusan Matsusaka Ushi) is a brand given to the highest quality virgin female beef from the Matsuzaka region of Mie Prefecture. The Matsusaka beef brand has a history of about 100 years.[56]
  • Yonezawa Beef: Yonezawa Beef (Yonezawa Gyu) is beef from virgin Japanese black female cattle in the Okitama region of Yamagata Prefecture and has a history of about 150 years.[57]
  • Maesawa Beef: Maesawa Beef is a brand given to the highest quality beef from the Maesawa area of Iwate Prefecture, and has a history of about 70 years.[58]
  • Miyazaki Beef: Miyazaki Beef is a brand of wagyu beef from Miyazaki Prefecture, and has often won the Wagyu Olympics in recent years.[59]
  • Ōmi Beef: Ōmi Beef is a wagyu beef brand from Shiga Prefecture with a history of about 400 years.[60]
  • Kagoshima Black Beef: Kagoshima Black Beef (Kagoshima Kuroushi) is a wagyu beef brand from Kagoshima Prefecture that won the recent Wagyu Olympics.[61]
  • Kumamoto Red Beef: Kumamoto Red Beef (Kuamoto Akaushi) is a wagyu beef from Kumamoto Prefecture, characterized by its lean meat.[62]
  • Hiba Beef: Hiba Beef is a brand of Japanese black cattle from Shobara City, Hiroshima Prefecture, with a history dating back to the Edo period.[63]
  • Hida Beef: Hida Beef is a Japanese beef from Gifu Prefecture and has a history of about 100 years.[64]
  • Olive-Fed Wagyu Beef: Olive-Fed Wagyu Beef is a brand of Japanese black cattle that is fed olives. It is one of the rarest beef in the world.[65]

Characteristics of Wagyu beef[edit]

Wagyu beef marbling
Wagyu beef marbling

One of the primary characteristics of Wagyu beef is the fine marbling of fat within the red meat, known as sashi, and the high ratio of intramuscular fat. However, of the four Wagyu breeds, only the Japanese Black breed has this characteristic, while the other three breeds do not have a high degree of marbling. The degree of marbling varies depending on sex, castration, and fattening method, but in the case of the Japanese Black, it is thought that genes play a major role.[66]

This characteristic of marbled meat is also found in the Mishima cattle, a native Wagyu breed.[67] However, this characteristic is not seen in the Kuchinoshima cattle, which are also a native Wagyu breed. In addition, it is the Tajima cattle strain among the Japanese Black cattle that tend to have marbled meat, while the Takenotani tsuru strain in Okayama Prefecture, for example, is characterized by rather red meat.[68]

The fat content of the Japanese Black breed is known for its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (e.g., oleic acid).[69] Generally, the melting point of beef fat is 40-50 degrees Celsius, but monounsaturated fatty acids have a lower melting point, so the melting point of Wagyu beef fat is below that of butter (around 30 degrees Celsius). Therefore, the fat melts at body temperature as soon as it is put in the mouth, and this is thought to be one of the main reasons for the tender, melt-in-your-mouth texture that is unique to Wagyu beef.

Wagyu beef, especially Japanese black beef, is known to have a unique sweet aroma called "Wagyu beef aroma," which is thought to be caused by complex compounds such as lactones.[70] Lactones, which are also found in peaches and coconuts, are more abundant in Wagyu beef, and their aroma increases when the beef is heated.

Wagyu beef grades[edit]

Beef grades indicate the quality of the meat, and in Japan they are determined based on the "Beef Carcass Trade Standards" established with the approval of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Two grades are used to determine the rating, one is the yield grade and the other is the meat quality grade.

The yield grade is divided into three grades, A, B, and C, with the highest grade being A. The meat quality grade is divided into five grades, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1, with the highest grade being 5.

Beef is graded in a total of 15 ways: A1 to A5, B1 to B5, and C1 to C5, combining the two grades, with A5 indicating the highest quality in both yield and meat quality grades.

The yield grade refers to the percentage of edible meat in a cow. The meat quality grade is determined by four criteria: marbling, meat color, meat firmness and texture, and fat luster and quality.[71]

Beef Grades
Yield Grade Meat Quality Grade
5 4 3 2 1
A A5 A4 A3 A2 A1
B B5 B4 B3 B2 B1
C C5 C4 C3 C2 C1

International Wagyu[edit]

International Wagyu is regulated and promoted through the World Wagyu Council.[72]

Australia[edit]

A Wagyu bull in Australia

The Australian Wagyu Association is the largest breed association outside Japan.[73] Both fullblood and Wagyu-cross cattle are farmed in Australia for domestic and overseas markets, including Taiwan, China, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the U.K., France, Germany, Denmark and the U.S.[74] Australian Wagyu cattle are grain fed for the last 300–500 days of production.[citation needed] Wagyu bred in Western Australia's Margaret River region often have red wine added to their feed as well.[75]

United States[edit]

In the United States, some Japanese Wagyu cattle are cross-bred with American Angus stock. Meat from this cross-breed is marketed as "American-Style Kobe Beef",[76] or "Wangus",[77] although many American retailers simply (inaccurately) refer to it as Wagyu. Wagyu were first competitively exhibited at the National Western Stock Show in 2012.[78] Other U.S. Wagyu breeders have full-blooded animals directly descended from original Japanese bloodlines, that are registered through the American Wagyu Association.[79]

Canada[edit]

Wagyu cattle farming in Canada appeared after 1991 when the Canadian Wagyu Association was formed. Wagyu style cattle and farms in Canada are located in Alberta,[80] Saskatchewan,[81] Ontario,[82] Quebec,[83] British Columbia,[84] Prince Edward Island,[85] and Newfoundland and Labrador.[86] Canadian Wagyu beef products are exported to the US (including Hawaii), Australia, New Zealand, and Europe.[85]

United Kingdom[edit]

In 2008, a herd of Wagyu cattle was imported to North Yorkshire, first becoming available for consumption in 2011.[87] Since 2011, there have been Wagyu herds in Scotland.[88][89][90][91][92] There are British & Irish Wagyu Fullbloods registered through the British Wagyu Breeders Association.[93]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Kiyoshi Namikawa (2016 [1992]). Breeding history of Japanese beef cattle and preservation of genetic resources as economic farm animals. Kyoto: Wagyu Registry Association. Accessed January 2017.
  2. ^ Kim, Jack Houston, Irene Anna. "The rarest steak in the world can cost over $300. Here's why wagyu beef is so expensive". Business Insider. Retrieved 26 May 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Gotoh, Takafumi (July 2018). "The Japanese Wagyu beef industry: current situation and future prospects – A review". Asian-Australasian Journal of Animal Sciences. 31 (7): 942–47. doi:10.5713/ajas.18.0333. PMC 6039323. PMID 29973029. S2CID 49693378 – via Science Citation Index.
  4. ^ Ogino, Mizuna; Matsuura, Akihiro; Yamazaki, Atusi; Irimajiri, Mami; Takahashi, Hideyuki; Komatsu, Tokushi; Kushibiki, Shiro; Shingu, Hiroyuki; Kasuya, Etsuko (17 January 2013). "Biological rhythms related to metabolism in Japanese Shorthorn cattle under varying environments and management techniques". Animal Science Journal. 84 (6): 513–26. doi:10.1111/asj.12029. ISSN 1344-3941. PMID 23607269.
  5. ^ Higuchi, Mikito; Shiba, Nobuya; Imanri, Mai; Yonai, Miharu; Watanabe, Akira (1 April 2018). "Effects of Grazing or Exercise in the Middle of the Fattening Period on the Growth and Carcass Traits of Japanese Shorthorn Steers". Japan Agricultural Research Quarterly. 52 (2): 163–72. doi:10.6090/jarq.52.163. ISSN 0021-3551.
  6. ^ a b Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (August 2019). "肉用牛の改良増殖をめぐる情勢" [The Situation Concerning the Improvement and Propagation of Beef Cattle] (PDF). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (in Japanese). Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  7. ^ a b Japan External Trade Organization 2023.
  8. ^ a b Kurosawa 2008, p. 29.
  9. ^ Sakazume 1964, pp. 6–10.
  10. ^ Fukuda 1998, p. 7.
  11. ^ Fukuda 1998, p. 58.
  12. ^ Kimine 2017.
  13. ^ a b Mannen et al. 2004.
  14. ^ Kim et al. 2016.
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