Interested in raising Wagyu beef cattle?
Do you know what Wagyu beef is? If you don’t, you need to find the nearest steakhouse that sells it and treat yourself! It’s the ultimate steak.
Raising Wagyu beef cattle is different than raising other breeds of beef cattle. Learn what makes Wagyu cattle different and superior to other beef breeds.
What is Wagyu Beef?
One of my all time favorite foods is steak. I could eat a big, juicy steak probably every night and be perfectly happy. So, of course, for Valentine’s Day, I wanted a nice (steak) dinner.
We decided to go on a weekend getaway to Tupelo, Mississippi and ate at a nice place in downtown Tupelo. I wanted a steak.
They didn’t just have the traditional ribeye… they had something I had never seen before: Wagyu steak.
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I couldn’t decide between the special of the day or a steak. The special was a crawfish stuffed flounder dish, by the way. YUM. I’m a sucker for seafood, especially when said seafood has a New Orleans twist to it.
I wasn’t sure what Wagyu steak was, so I asked our waitress. She described it as similar to Kobe beef. I didn’t know what Kobe beef was either… (Steak University explains the difference between Wagyu and Kobe beef.)
She explained it as being extremely tender and well-marbled beef. She said that the steak would fall apart in my mouth and it is seriously the best steak available. I went with the steak.
I wish I could put an audio in this post of angels singing because I’m pretty sure I heard them sing around me while I was eating this steak. I’m telling you. It was that good.
The steak was so tender, juicy and flavorful. Literally, I was able to cut my steak with a spoon. A spoon!!
I’m such a nerd, I couldn’t be satisfied with just knowing that Wagyu steak is the best meat available. I had to know more about Wagyu beef.
How is Wagyu beef different?
Wagyu are cattle that are Asian.
The term Wagyu can actually refer to several different types of cattle.
In Japan, there are four types of Wagyu cattle.
These main four strains are the Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, Japanese Polled and Japanese Shorthorn.
The breed that is usually shipped to the U.S. is the Japanese Black.
Wagyu cattle are descendants of draft animals. Draft animals are animals that are used to pull heavy loads. These particular draft animals were used to pull heavy loads for long periods of time.
This forced their bodies to adapt. The Wagyu cattle breeds began storing large amounts of fat within the muscle tissue so that there was a constant supply of energy right where it was being used.
This intramuscular fat is called marbling.
Marbling gives the meat the tender and juicy qualities. Meat with less marbling is dry and usually tougher.
In Japan, Wagyu beef is raised differently than cattle typically are in the U.S.
All Wagyu cattle go through extreme progeny testing and only the animals with the best genetics are allowed to breed. These cattle are so highly regulated and treasured that Japan recently declared them a national treasure!
The steak is so much more than even a top notch ribeye. The aroma of the steak is unbelievable.
According to research, the wonderful, unique smell of the wagyu meat is because of the fatty acids that are found distributed so heavily in the meat.
Raising Wagyu Beef Cattle in America
Japan has cracked down on the Wagyu beef producers in Japan.
They are not allowed to export their meat products from Wagyu cattle. However, these products are so highly coveted by chefs around the world that they somehow find their way to restaurants.
The first Wagyu cattle that were imported to the U.S. arrived in 1975. There are currently a small amount of Wagyu cattle in the U.S. that are used for breeding.
When you think of high quality beef products, you probably think about Angus cattle. Angus cattle are considered by many to be the top of the line cattle.
Angus cattle and Wagyu cattle are often crossed in the U.S. to create a superior cut of meat.
The marbling and intense flavor of the meat is untouched.
Wagyu beef is also raised differently than any other cattle breed here in the U.S.
Typically, most cattle are raised either on pasture or in a feedlot setting until the reach somewhere around 1,000 pounds, give or take a few hundred pounds.
Wagyu beef calves spend twelve months with their mother and herd.
After these twelve months, the calves are sold to small farms that will finish them out.
The calves are fed out for another 400 days. While they are fed out, they are spoiled. It has been shown that happier Wagyu cattle put on more marbling, so the calves are well taken care of.
Many producers even go as far as to do deep tissue massage with their cattle each day. The theory behind this is that it keeps the muscle fibers loose and allows the marbling to disperse evenly throughout the muscle tissue.
The American Wagyu Association has more information on their website about what you can expect with American Wagyu beef cattle.
Health Benefits of Eating Wagyu Beef
Not only does the Wagyu meat taste exceptional, it has health benefits as well.
Health experts have discovered the mono-unsaturated (the good fat) to saturated fat ratio is higher in Wagyu beef than in other beef.
The saturated fat contained in Wagyu is different also.
Forty percent is in a version called stearic acid, which is regarded as having a minimal impact in raising cholesterol levels.
The profile of marbled Wagyu beef is more beneficial and healthier for humans.
Wagyu is also higher in a fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA. Wagyu have about 30% more CLA than any other beef breeds. Research has shown that foods higher in CLA have fewer negative health effects.
New research suggests that Wagyu beef can help maintain muscle while burning fat as it increases oxygen intake, energy production and increases the rate of metabolism.
Raising Wagyu Beef Cattle
If you have cattle, or are thinking about raising cattle, you may be interested in raising Wagyu cattle.
If you want to raise superior beef products:
There are multiple reasons that you could want to raise cattle.
Many people raise cattle to provide their families and close friends with meat that was raised humanely. Other people raise cattle to earn money.
Either way, Wagyu cattle can fit your needs.
Raising Wagyu beef cattle for your family
Raising Wagyu beef cattle involves more time than raising other types of beef, especially if you decide to follow the daily deep tissue massage trend.
This will allow you to get more one on one time with your cattle and appreciate the meat products from those cattle even more.
If you are raising Wagyu cattle for profit, then you’ll be interested in the fact that Wagyu meat products typically grade higher and are worth more money.
You’ll be able to sell to high-end restaurants and stores. These high-end markets will bring a higher dollar amount than just taking the products to a traditional slaughter-house or market.
Raising Wagyu beef cattle for profit:
Wagyu cattle take more time per animal to raise than traditional beef breeds. If you’re wanting raise livestock on a small scale, consider raising heritage breeds of livestock.
Let me remind you that it has been proven that Wagyu cattle put on more marbling if they are happy and healthy.
The happier your cows are, the more productive they will be.
Wagyu beef cattle tend to bring a higher dollar amount, which means that the purebred Wagyu are going to be a little pricier as well.
I have researched the prices of Wagyu in my area, and they tend to run around $2,500-3,000/ head for registered Wagyu. Compare that to $1,800-2,500/head for registered Angus cattle.
I say that because if you are looking to have a few cows on your farm, you may get more in the long run for Wagyu meat products than traditional beef breeds, even though they cost more up front. You get what you pay for, especially when it comes to cattle!
Raising Wagyu beef cattle:
Just like any other beef production, there are several ways that you can produce Wagyu and sell them for profit.
If you are thinking about raising cattle, you may want to consider silvopasture. Silvopasture combines forestry and raising livestock in a way that decreases the impacts on the environment.
There is the possibility to raise Wagyu as custom beef.
If you are close to an urban area that has some high-end markets and restaurants, then you will probably do best raising custom beef.
When you raise custom beef, you raise the animal for someone and they either process it themselves or have it processed a certain way through you.
Either way, you’ve sold custom beef.
You can raise commercial Wagyu beef as well.
If you have a slaughterhouse nearby that pays based of the quality of meat, then you sell them your Wagyu, they grade the carcass and pay you based on the quality.
If you choose to sell through this route, you may not make quite as much as if you raised and sold custom beef, but your end of the job is much easier. You don’t worry with marketing the meat products, you simply provide to the slaughterhouse.
The Cattle Business Weekly published an article “Is Wagyu for you?” where they looked at pros and cons with Wagyu farmers.
Many Wagyu calves are sold as premium calves.
There are many companies out there that specialize in finishing Wagyu calves out and will purchase calves for that purpose.
If you sell premium calves, you sell to a company that will finish the calf out and you get paid when the calf leaves your farm.
Another option for Wagyu breeders is the option to raise and sell seedstock animals.
Seedstock animals are registered animals that are used for breeding purposes.
There aren’t as many Wagyu cattle in the U.S. as there are traditional cattle breeds, so you could provide seedstock animals to producers that want to either breed pure Wagyu or incorporate Wagyu into their beef herds.
You would be raising bulls and heifers(cows) to breed.
It is possible to incorporate Wagyu cattle into your breeding herd by using artificial insemination techniques. To read about artificial insemination and how it can benefit your farm, click here.
Final Thoughts about Raising Wagyu Beef Cattle
There are so many benefits to eating and raising Wagyu cattle that I could have written a million posts about it.
As the American consumer, or consumers worldwide, become more knowledgeable, the demands for food products is going to continue changing.
I think that Wagyu cattle are going to see an increase in consumer demand because Wagyu offer not only superior taste and texture, but they have health benefits as well.
The market for Wagyu cattle isn’t huge in the U.S. currently, so if you are interested in raising Wagyu for commercial meat products, then now is the time to do so.