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Wagyu Tour in Australia and Japan

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Wagyu Tour - Australia & Japan

Preparing to go to the 2007 Australian Wagyu Conference to be held in Brisbane, Oct 5-7 and joining the Australian Tour of Japan for the All-Japan Wagyu Show in Tottori.

The Australian Wagyu conference will be informative – there will be a briefing on the Japanese Intellectual Property Wagyu labelling issue; a talk on emerging markets for Wagyu production; a talk on the competitiveness of the Wagyu industry versus general beef production; presentations and tastings by three of the best-known Australian chefs; and an opportunity to meet and network with our Australian counterparts.

The Australian Beef Cattle Industry Japan Tour will leave from Brisbane on Sunday, October 7 for Tokyo. In Tokyo, the group (numbering 34 and including participants from Scotland and Manila) will get a briefing from government officials on the Japanese beef industry, a tour of Tokyo retail and food service outlets and a visit to the Japan Meat Grading Association and Wholesale Markets (including the auction process).

On Wednesday afternoon (Oct 10th), the group flies to Yonago City, Tottori – home of the 9th Zenkyo (2007 All-Japan Wagyu Show) held only once every 5 years – where we will spend Thursday and Friday. Tottori prefecture, incidentally, is the home to the Kedaka strain (or line) of Wagyu cattle. The new Japanese Prime Minister will be in attendance, along with probably 200,000 of his fellow countrymen and women.

Notes about 9th Zenkyo:

1. There are two sections in this event – Breeding Cattle Section & Beef Cattle Section, but the general public can only see the Breeding Cattle.
2. Cattle compete in the seven events for determining first in each category, such as male, female, age etc.
3. There is an announcement explaining each cow, such as “this cow is from xxx prefecture, weighing xxx kg… xxx prefecture has xxx of cattle in total. The main characteristics of the cattle are…” etc.
4. The final result will be shown to the audience, but no judges’ comments are announced while the cattle are assessed.
5. There is a museum about Japanese cattle in general, including an explanation on Tottori Wagyu etc.


On Saturday we visit Kyoto, the cultural and spiritual center of Japan.

On Sunday we leave Kyoto for Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu, where we will visit Susuki Farm and feedlot and the Meiji Quarantine facility.

On Tuesday (16th Oct) we leave for Sapporo/Noboribetsu, Hokkaido – home of Hokkaido’s most famous hot springs resort. While there will visit Takeda Farms, feedlot and lunch at Mr. Takeda’s restaurant.

Notes about Mr. Takeda's operation:

The Takeda farm on the northern island of Hokkaido, is home to one of the largest herds of Wagyu in Japan. For over 40 years the Shogo Takeda family has been breeding Japanese Black Wagyu and they were the first to introduce the breed to Hokkaido in 1954.

A high percentage of Takeda cattle are grade A-5. In Japan, ‘A’ is the most desirable yield grade and ‘5’ is the highest quality grade. Females calve at two years off age and continue to produce progeny each year thereafter.

The average Takeda Farms females weigh 650kgs (the Japanese average is 550kgs). Takeda dams are known for their healthy progeny, consistently hanging heavier carcasses.


On Friday, the group will depart for home.

My hope is to keep a journal/blog of the events as they occur during the trip – and if I can get it to work, publish photos and perhaps even a video or two. I will make those available either through email – if you wish to receive it – or online at: http://www.lonemountaincattle.com

Incidentally – my research indicates that the last published Japan Wagyu Sire Summary (2001) – which I assume coincided with the 8th Zenkyo held in Gifu Prefecture in September 2002 – and shows that the three highest marbling bulls were all sired by Yasufuku. The highest marbling bull in Japan was Yasufuku 165 #9 (whose Maternal Grandsire was Shigefuji). The 2nd highest sire was listed as Fukukakae (whose MSG was Kikuterudoi). The 3rd highest marbling sire listed was Yasuhira (whose sire and MSG was Yasufuku. It will be interesting to see what pedigrees are highlighted in the 9th Zenkyo in Tottori – which is open to all Japanese Wagyu, not just those from Tottori prefecture.




Thursday, October 04, 2007

Arrival in Brisbane, Australia


I have arrived in Brisbane - 14-hour flight from Los Angeles. I can see men with cowboy hats checking in - the conference attendees must be arriving.

The flight was mostly uneventful, except that a couple of the passengers got ill - and when we landed the Quarantine Squad jumped on board, while the rest of us had to wait until we were cleared to disembark. Luckily, the passengers did not have SARS or Bird Flu, so we left the plane shortly thereafter.

I read over some materials on the flight and remembered that the Australians were feeding out over 60,000 Wagyu-infused cattle last year. 92% of the cattle are F1's, F2's and F3's - and about 5,000 (8%) are Fullblood Wagyu steers.

There is a severe drought in Australia, deeply affecting most of the ranchers and farmers in the country. It has been going on for 6-7 years now - and everything is brown in the countryside... It reminds me of Lone Mountain last year - until finally the rains hit in July. I am sure it will be an important part of the conference proceedings.

I had been invited to come to AACO (Australian Agricultural Company) by Greg Gibbons (the former editor of the Australian Wagyu newsletter) to see the 540 Fullblood Wagyu calves they had this spring - the largest number in Australian history. Unfortunately, the farm/ranch is over 5 hours away and I did not get a chance to visit. AAC, you might recall, bought out Westholme Wagyu last year - obtaining all of their bulls, cows, calves and embryos from the former owner (his name escapes me for the moment) - for a total of $10 million dollars. There were 100 bulls and 300 cows and innumberable embryos and straws of semen. Their semen is for sale to American buyers for the first time - 001, 002 & 003 and some of their newer bulls.

The first get-together is this evening - and I plan to walk around, catch a nap, and go to bed early... as the conference starts early tomorrow morning with a Board Meeting, which I am hoping to attend - and see how it is different from the American Wagyu Association Board meetings. So that is all for now...

For the sake of accuracy, this is a correction to above: In 2006 there were 61,300 Wagyu cattle on feed in Australia. There were 57,080 F1's - F-4's on feed and 4220 Fullblood Wagyu being fed out. They were being fed out in a range of 350-500 days - though most of them were being fed 400-459 days.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

AWA Reception - First Night

The first thing I must mention is how difficult it is to get accustomed to the Australian accent - I think everyone who talked to me thought I was deaf, since I asked them to repeat virtually everything they said. But by the end of the evening, I was catching on.

One gentleman told me that he thought that Wagyu breeders were businessmen first, and ranchers second - and that ranchers of other breeds were ranchers first.

Another rancher told me that when working with ET, his embryologist thought that the reason that some recips and donors did not "come in" was due to fluctuations in blood sugar - and that giving them a handful of Copra Meal every day for 3 weeks before estrus and 3 weeks after would keep the blood sugar at an even level.

The thought of many was that for F1 production, Tajima bloodlines were the best. But when breeding Fullblood Wagyu, the Takeda rotation system worked best. The Takeda rotation starts with a highly marbling animal (think JVP Fukutsuru 068) and then putting the resulting females with a larger framed animal (like a Kedaka or Fujiyoshi, like Itoshigefuji 148 or Itozorudoi 151). And then those resulting females are bred back to a highly marbling bull.

I also heard good things about Itosohigenami 147 - that he had large size as well as good marbling. And that Itoshigefuji marbled better than expected. Itozorudoi 151 is now dead and his semen is more than scarce - it is unavailable.

Everyone agreed that Sanjirou and Michifuku are both superb animals - but their will come a day when both these great bulls will be surpassed. The only question is how those superior progeny will be produced.

The people attending the conference are warm and welcoming - and, of course, they love talking Wagyu. They are open, warm, and helpful - happy to tell you their "secrets", their way of raising this breed. Their outlook on the breed is quite optomistic. And they are all very interested in their US counterpart's activities and outlook.

Then I went to bed - it was 4 or 5 in the morning on stateside time. I slept for 9 hours and I think I am now alert enough for the full day of conference talks and discussion.




Saturday, October 06, 2007

Australian Wagyu Conference - Day 1


In trying to condense the long day of talks, one over-arching theme kept being repeated: the worst drought in history is taking place in Australia. It affects 1/3 of the entire country - and it is taking a great toll on the Wagyu industry here.

The conference reflected for me a mature organization, with many warm and friendly members. I made many friends over the short conference. The discussions were smart and instructive - and the dialog was sharp. It was quite well organized and reflected serious but lively intentions.

Of note: The Australian Wagyu Association has 317 full members and 52 associates. In 2006 there were 2167 Fullblood registrations and about 1400 transfers in registrations. This compares to 1800 registrations in 2005 and 1200 transfers last year. BREEDPLAN (the organization that provides EBV's or EPD's) has recorded 8000 animals in their database and expects the first run to be done early next year - with Michifuku as the reference sire.

The AWA website gets 2200 visitors a month - and 65% of them are new to the site.

Peter Bishop welcomed everyone and said that the most important thing for Wagyu ranchers was product integrity - be truthful. If you do not know the pedigree, DNA the animal. Sell no pregnant heifers unless the buyer is told. In order to meet demand, the number of animals need to move from the current 80,000 to 300,000. Two new abbatoirs are being built - one at a cost of $100 million. Russia and China represent huge new opportunities for the Wagyu breeder.

After the AWA Annual meeting, we broke for morning tea and crumpets. I spoke to a couple who told me that at last year's meeting they heard a talk about weaning calves at 6 weeks! Another person told me he had bought a young Wagyu bull who covered 100 females and 97% became pregnant!

Then the first speaker - David Connell, from AACo - talked about international marketing. AACo, an enormous Australian agricultural company, owns 625,000 cattle - 2,000 Wagyu and has 12,000 Wagyu-infused on feed - 500 to 600 Fullbloods included.

Price is an issue, especially here during the drought - hay is running around $450AU per ton. But globally demand is high; the Australians are benefitting from their clean, green image; and the EU also presents new opportunity.

The take-away: Price is built on quality. And Brand Protection is essential.

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Miho Kondo spoke about Wagyu labeling in Japan. There is a protection movement growing in strength in Japan - and the Wagyu logo is under review. Cattle must be derived from cattle born and raised in Japan and accredited by the Japanese Wagyu Association in order to be labelled Wagyu.

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Ewan Colquhoun spoke about food miles - which is more or less, buy and eat local. He talked about the growth of organic, sustainability, animal welfare, food image, fair trade, and producer welfare - ultimately, all decisions are made by the consumer. Organic has grown 15-20% a year - in the US 24% of consumers buy organic once a week, up from 17% in 2000. Even Wal-Mart is entering the organic market.

He also talked about the opposite side of the equation: in the UK, more energy is used in greenhouse warming to grow tomatoes than Spain uses and ships to the UK; what is the carbon impact on food, both in production and transportation; hard to maintain across all seasons; Fiji bottled water will eclipse sugar as the major export of Fiji - sugar employs 40,000 workers, bottled water employs 200.

Food miles is food for thought.

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John Houghton gave a Wagyu market report: Australia has competition from South America - and resistance from Japan - and the re-entrance of US into the marketplace will have an effect on Australian profitability. The age increase (to 30 months) proposed by the US is under consideration. A tough market faces Australian producers over the next 12-18 months. The drought and higher production costs are the prime reasons.

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Break for a delicious lunch.

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After lunch Dr. Christine Jones spoke about returning carbon into the soil. In a rather controversial talk, she asked, "Who ever said that carbon emissions are causing climate change?" I was left a little speechless - espcially coming after the interesting talk about food miles. There was no one (except an organic farmer who said that he was organic about everything, but used a great deal of fuel getting things done) who really challenged Dr. Jones on her position.

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Dr. Glen Anderson gave a lengthy talk about diagnosing parasite invastion and parasite resistance. It was quite informative, but focused on Australian parasites - and I am certainly not an expert on that... He said when in doubt, take a good look!

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David Hanlon gave a long talk about real estate vs beef business - an analysis of your business plan that I must admit went a little over my head... maybe i was in need of another crumpet or two...

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Then Belinda Hays, of AUSTRADE, talked about emerging markets. I was stunned to learn how much help and assistance the Australian government gives to its agricultural producers. AUSTRADE seems like a great organization - I am unsure if there is an American equivalent, but I tend to doubt it... They will even help a producer pay for a trip to foreign countries to explore the possibilities of export.

Her take-away: Consistent Quality!

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Finally, Sam Bailey spoke. It was inspiring and emotional to hear his story. He became a quadraplegic at age 19 - a result of a terrible car accident. He told how he overcame despair and depression and pulled his life back from the abyss. He has partial control of his arms and his next goal is to fly a helicopter. He has written a book with his young wife (a former radio personality) and lives on his farm. What a story to end the day's conference!

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Afterwards, a long dinner overlooking the river running through Brisbane - with a loud auction of wine and beef - all to support the Australian version of Doctors without Borders. I was asked to draw the winning lottery ticket - and did so, after a few short remarks about how grateful I was for the friendship of everyone and the opportunity to witness such an informative day.




Sunday, October 07, 2007

Go figure

Wouldn't you know it - as I was finishing the last posting, emphasizing the devastating drought - it started pouring rain.

We are off to Japan this morning - a group numbering 33 - will post from there next.

Day 2 - The Chefs Prepare Wagyu

   

   

   


Peter Howard, well known and passionate Australian foodie moderated the morning.

Nino Zocalli, formerly chef at Sydney's Otto Restaurant, prepared risotto and braised Wagyu. Nino is opening an olive oil store called Pendolino in Sydney.

David Pugh, chef at Restaurant Two in Brisbane, prepared polenta and Wagyu cheeks, and a wonderful Wagyu steak au poivre (with a cognac cream sauce). He also prepared Wagyu brisket with soba noodles.

Justin North, chef at Becasse in Sydney - the 2007 Restaurant of the Year. Justin prepared poached bordelaise Wagyu, cured Wagyu and a roasted Wagyu tri-tip.

Tastings were provided to the audience - and were nothing short of sublime.

Sadly, the conference was over.




Monday, October 08, 2007

Arrival in Tokyo

We arrived after an 8 hour flight from Brisbane - took a bus with the group to our hotel - appropriately enough our guide & translator, Naromi, was born in the year of the cow!

A buffet dinner followed and we all stuffed our plates with everything in sight, including a few desserts...

It is night now, and we are readying for tomorrow`s jaunt to the Australian Embassy (dress sharply) and the MLA (I am sure I will find out what that means tomorrow). After that we are going to visit some retail shops selling Japanese beef - and finish up the evening with a visit to what the Australian`s refer to as a "B-Hole" - which I later figured out was a "Beer Hall". Those accents...




Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Tokyo - Meetings & Supermarkets


MLA - Meat & Livestock Australia - gave a presentation at the shiny new Australian Embassy. Of note: The Japanese consumer feels that US beef has problems with safety, traceability, use of hormones, and BSE. Since the re-introduction of beef into the Japanese market earlier this year, the Japanese still prefer their own, followed by Australian beef. In 2003, before the US BSE scare, the US contributed 30% of Japanese beef imports - now it is less than 1%. The Australians exported 32% and currently export 50% of Japanese imports of beef.

It seems to be all about brand awareness - and the Australian brand is safe, healthy and delicious. BSE and safety issues are enormous factors in Japanese consumer minds.

Japan currently tests 100% of all beef for BSE - the government pays for all testing - and traceability is mandatory!

Education of the consumer is important - so is the testing of all carcasses for BSE -so that they do not get into the food supply chain - my opinion. We must avoid consumer confusion. And the US must be more pragmatic in their ongoing negotiations with the Japanese government. Again, my opinion.

In the afternoon, we visited 3-4 supermarkets to look at the retail Wagyu product - it was quite impressive. Marbling fantastic. Price point - very valuable.

Afterwards, we went to a beer hall and had a sumptuous loud feast.

We are up early in the morning (some to Tsukiji Fish Market for the auction) and check out of the hotel for a tour of the meat grading facility and then on to Tottori in the afternoon.




Thursday, October 11, 2007

WAGYU PHOTOS - 2

WAGYU SHOW - 9TH ZENKYO - TOTTORI

   

   



I WILL CLEAN UP THESE CAPS LOCK SOON - PLEASE EXCUSE...

THE MOST INTERESTING PART FOR ME WAS THE EXAMINATION OF THE PEDIGREES - THERE WERE NUMEROUS YASUFUKU AND YASUFUKU SONS THAT WERE MATED TO KITAGUNI 7-8. SOMETIMES THE SIRE WAS YASUFUKU AND THE DAM WAS KITAGUNI 7-8 AND OTHER TIMES (IN THE TYPICAL ROTATION SYSTEM)THE PATTERN WAS REVERSED, WITH 7-8 BEING THE SIRE AND YASUFUKU THE SIRE OF THE DAM.

OTHER POPULAR SIRES SEEMED TO BE DAI NANA ITOZAKURA SONS. THE JAPANESE ARE NOW FAVORING THE LARGER SIZED BULLS - THE MARBLING SEEMS TO BE INHERENT IN THE GENETIC MAKEUP - AND THEY ARE PAID WELL FOR THE SIZE THAT THEY GET FROM THE BIGGER BULLS.

THE WAGYU LOOKED IN GREAT CONDITION - SHINY COATS AND AND FULLNESS THAT DID NOT FAVOR A SLIGHT RUMP AND A SWAYED BACK.

TAKE A LOOK FOR YOURSELVES. I HAVE BEEN UNABLE TO UPLOAD THE VIDEO FOR ANOTHER REASON, WHICH I DO NOT YET UNDERSTAND - I HOPE TO POST THEM WHEN I GET TO KYOTO.

Bull Fight Photos

   

   

   

Yonago - The Wagyu Show & Bull Fight

   



We arrived in Yonago and checked into our modest hotel in Yonago, across the street from the Yonago Train Station (a good place to get a hot cappucino in the morning). The hotel was more modest than the modest hotel we stayed at in Tokyo. My bags fit in the room, but barely.

In the morning we went off to the Show and the Prince of Japan and his wife, the Princess welcomed the guests. I felt like I had found a gold mine - I happened upon a book booth that had not only the first edition of "100 Most Influential Wagyu Sires of Japan" (first published in 1995), but also the 2nd edition, published in 2003 - as well as the Third edition, which had been published only days ago. It is all in Japanese, but I have been able to decipher a few of the better sires, as well as note the breeding patterns. Quite fascinating.

There were mobs of Japanese there, probably around 50,000 and on the second day twice that number. There was an exhibition hall noting the history of the breed and several more tents that featured various products (genetics, farm tools, etc)...

Then there were the pens of Wagyu (with pedigrees in Japanese hanging over the animals) - the workers were more than happy to go over the pedigrees as best they could and talk about their ages and condition and so on. Often, the younger helpers were anxious to practice their English skils.

Before the first judging show - we hopped on a bus that took us 30 minutes away to a traditional Japanese bull fight. In JAPAN (SORRY THE CAPS LOCK GOT STUCK ON AND I CANNOT FIGURE OUT HOW TO TURN IT OFF) THE BULL FIGHTS ARE AMONG BULLS - THERE IS NO MATADOR AND THE BULLS ARE NOT HURT OR KILLED. IT WAS FUN FOR THE FIRST FEW FIGHTS, BUT THEN IT SEEMED TO US FOREIGNERS THAT WE WATCH THE BULLS IN OUR OWN PENS DO THE SAME THING DAY AFTER DAY - BULLS JUST LIKE TO FIGHT AND BUTT HEADS ALL DAY.

Grading & Auction Photos

   

   

Tokyo


Our last day in Tokyo we went to the Meat Grading and Auction house. We were given a lecture as to how Wagyu beef is graded - A5 being the best, with the A being the yield and the number following having to do with the quality. In addition, they give a marbling score to the carcass.

After the lecture and demonstration, we suited up in white caps and gowns and boots and went through a sterilization process, similar to the airport screening process - although it was more thorough. We then went to the auction facility where the carcasses are graded and the buyers (wholesale) bid for the beef.

We watched the heifers being auctioned off - there were many A4s and a smattering of A5 heifer carcasses. I have lost my notes, but as I recall the A5 heifers were bid up to 2500 yen per kilo - and they weighed around 500 kilos - the end result was that the top heifers went for around $6000 apiece.

The bulls went for much higher, especially since they weighed a good deal more. The top bull carcasses went for around $US 12,000!




Saturday, October 13, 2007

Travel from Yonago (Tottori) to Kyoto

Saturday morning the group boarded the bus at 7:30am headed for Kyoto, with a stop at the Machiyo Chucoku Bokyjo (Ranch) - where we were allowed to visit their farm and feedlot. They have about 150 breeding cows and are feeding out another 1500) give or take a few hundred.

They wean 80% of their calves at 3 months, the remainder at 4 months. Those early weaners are kept in separate pens for about 6 weeks and fed grain and silage. They dehorn their calves at 8 months - if they do it earlier, the horns tend to grow back.

The Japanese feeders pay about $5,000 for a feeder calf (Fullblood Wagyu) and it costs them about another $4,000 US to feed them out. They sell them for about $US 10,000, making a profit of $1,000 per calf at the end of the cycle.

This feedlot is in the Shimane prefecture, so most of these calves are Shimane based - and they look it - they are quite big, as you can see. Some of them have Tajima influence, which can be seen by the short legs - they are lower to the ground.

The feed consists of corn, soybeans and tofu. They also have an organic fertilizer plant which uses the cow manure and mix it with soybeans, tofu and mushrooms. They slowly let it mulch over a period of 6 months and then sell to other farmers for their fields.

We arrived in Kyoto for a very short stop on our way this afternoon to Fukuoka, on the island of Kyushu - where we will visit the Susuki (Suzuki?) farm and feedlot. And then on to the island of Hokkaido where we will visit an onsen (hot baths) and the Takeda operation.




Sunday, October 21, 2007

Farewell to Japan

A bus ride from Noboribetsu (home to many onsen - hot springs) to Sapporo.



A stop for refreshments by lakeside.



A final lunch at the seaside port of Otaru, facing Russia.

Mr Takeda's Green Pastures

Mr. Takeda's pasture where the cows and calves feed in the lush green grass.

   



Mr. Takeda's prize cow - 24 years old - and pregnant again!



From left to right: Mauro Agustines, Bob Estrin, Shogo Takeda

Noboribetsu - outside Sapporo, Hokkaido

We then traveled from Kyushu (the southern-most island of Japan) to Hokkaido (the northern-most island) to visit Mr. Shogo Takeda and his farm.

Two of his newest bulls - of whom he is assuredly proud.

   

Mr. Takeda showed us around his pens - there was enough room for the cows to roam from building to building, while rubbing their backs on the two tires hung from the ceiling of the wooden structures. Water was provided to the animals in small amounts, so as not to allow them to swallow too much at a time.



   

Susuki Wagyu Feast - Grilled A4 Meat



Mr. Susuki treated our tour group to grilled Wagyu - graded A4 - and did a marvelous job as chef. Medium heat, flipping the steaks contantly and serving them up in batches.



Afterwards, he was presented with a thank-you gift, and Namuri (our guide) translated his words.

Then we all posed for a group shot.

Susuki Farm & Feedlot - outside Fukuoka

   

   



Visited Susuki Farm - where they feed Australian cattle, primarily from Hammond Farms. Keith and John Hammond were present to help us understand the process - and were quite congenial and warm - as well as forthcoming about their operation and their experience with Wagyu.

Fukuoka, Kyushu - Moji Quarantine Facility

   

   


We arrived at the Quarantine Facility at Moji, just outside Fukuoka - extraordinary food safety precautions are followed here with all of the cattle that arrive into the Fukuoka area.

The facility can handle up to 1500 cattle at a time - the animals are kept here for up to 18 days and then another 12 days are needed to clean up afterwards.

We were required to suit up with sanitary uniforms so that we would not bring our germs into the facility.

All countries should be required to follow this protocol - impressive!




Monday, November 19, 2007

Final Thoughts - Lessons Learned

When I was in Yonago at the 9th Zenkyo, I happened upon a stall selling a copy of a book that I had been endlessly searching the Internet for: “Top 100 Cattle in Japan” by Kenichi Ono – and not only did I find the first edition (published in 1999), but the 2nd (2002) and the 3rd editions (October 2007) as well.

With the help of Dr. Hiroshi Uchida, I have been able to decipher enough of the Japanese script to uncover some rather remarkable findings. I am currently working with other Japanese translators to see what other nuggets I can uncover.

1. The 1999 edition of “Top Cattle” features Yasufuku 930 – the first chapter is devoted to this sire and his major progeny, most notably Yasufuku 165-9. Yasufuku 165-9, coincidentally, was the top marbling sire in Japan as evidenced the Japanese Sire Evaluation Report published in December 2001. (Yasufuku was also named as the sire of Fukukakae [number 2] and Yasuhira [number 3] – as well as maternal grandsire of Yasuhira in the 2001 Sire Report).

Interestingly, I saw numerous cattle in the Tottori Wagyu show with breeding featuring Yasufuku offspring mated with Kitaguni 7-8 offspring and vice versa – it seems to be a favored breeding of the Japanese.

2. The 2002 edition of “Top Cattle” features Yasufuku 165-9 in the first chapter. Yasufuku 930 and his offspring seem to be at the top of all the Wagyu sires during that time (1999-2002).

3. By the time of the 2007 edition, Yasufuku 165-9 moved down in order of importance – he is not mentioned until the 7th chapter, when he is listed as the maternal grandsire of a bull. But then he is mentioned in the 4 following chapters as either the sire or maternal grandsire of the featured sire. And Yasufuku was listed as the grandsire or maternal grandsire of several of this year’s Wagyu Contest (9th Zenkyo) winners (see below).

4. The Japanese breeders now appear to have moved in the direction of bigger size: the most popular sire of the day is a bull named Hirashigekatsu – a son of Dai 20 Hirashige. Hirashigekatsu dominates the most recent (2007) edition of “Top Cattle”, being the sire of several of the bulls featured in the first 3 chapters.

5. Chapter 2 of the 1999 edition of “Top Cattle” features Dai 7 Itozakura and his progeny and Chapter 3 of the 1999 edition features his son, Kitaguni 7-8. Chapter 4 features Shigeshigenami (maternal sire of Suzutani). Chapter 5 features Dai 20
Hirashige
. Chapter 6 features Kikutani (a son of Yasutanidoi). Chapter 7 features Monjiro (sire of Michifuku and grandsire of Sanjirou).


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Winners of the 9th All-Japan Wagyu Contest (as far as I can determine) are:

7th Zone –

First Prize: Gifu Prefecture – Shirakiyo 85-3, sired by Yasufuku (MGS: Yasufuku).
2nd Prize: Hokkaido – Kitakatsufuku 1, sired by Hirashigekatsu (MGS: Yasufuku).

8th Zone –

First Prize: Miyazaki Prefecture – Yasuhirazakura, sired by Yasuhira, grand-sired by Yasufuku.
2nd Prize: YamaguchiFukumimi, grand-sired by Yasufuku (MGS: Hirashigekatsu).

9th Zone –

First Prize: Miyazaki Prefecture – Hyuganokuni, sired by Yasuhira, grand-sired by Yasufuku.
2nd Prize: Miyazaki – Fukunokuni, grand-sired by Kitaguni 7-8 (MGS: Yasufuku).