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wagyu in the US


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charolais cross

Marbling equals big profits for the cattle producer. This section provides insight about the traits of the Wagyu breed.

Exquisite marbling - fine ribbons of monounsaturated fat (the good ones) intertwine the muscles (the higher the amount of marbling, the higher the grade of meat). Wagyu females are lighter muscled and their marbling is much finer and more evenly dispersed throughout the muscle.

Wagyu cattle offer:
  • Calving ease
  • Generous ribeye size
  • Finer meat texture
  • No excessive back fat
  • Wagyu are very fertile: bulls have a high servicing capacity at a young age, and heifers reach sexual maturity at a young age
  • Wagyu cattle have docile temperaments and are easy to handle and move
  • The breed is hardy and adaptive to different environments. Wagyu are being raised across the United States with ease.

The following is an excerpt from "Much Ado about Marbling," by John R. Brethour, Professor, Beef Cattle Science, KSU Agricultural Research Center-Hays, Kansas:

Marbling refers to the little specks of fat dispersed in lean tissue that translates into big bucks for the beef producer. It is considered the best indicator of eating satisfaction when consumers enjoy beef. Higher levels of marbling results in better flavor beef and juiciness. Although marbling does not guarantee tenderness, well-marbled beef can be cooked to a higher degree of doneness and still maintain juiciness. This seems especially important for roasts. Marbling is almost the sole indicator of USDA quality grade, which ranges from Standard to Prime. The Japanese Wagyu probably is the highest marbling breed in the world. In Japan there are five marbling grades above the USDA High Prime and fat content in the rib eye muscle sometimes is 45 percent and higher (10 times the amount in USDA Low Choice). There is a mail order steakhouse that sells Wagyu steaks for over $100 per pound.

"One judge said this was "the best set of carcasses I've ever seen in my life," Brethour said. "We broke history in Denver with an average quality grade of Prime plus."

The men taking six cattle to the 1999 National Western Stock Show for the carcass contest, where the won first place with an unprecedented 100%, prime-graded group.

» More about John Brethour and Charolais Crosses