5 things to know about Wagyu beef

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Wagyu herd.

Wagyu is considered a delicacy in Japan, famous for its Kobe beef. Only a limited number of Wagyu cattle were introduced to the U.S. in the early ’70s before exports were banned in the late ’90s.

The American Wagyu Association estimates there are 30,000 Wagyu-influenced cattle being raised domestically, with less than 5,000 being full blood. Here are five things you may not know about the Wagyu breed.

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1Taste sensation
Wagyu have a natural propensity to marble as a high prime cut of beef, according to Francis Fluharty, Ohio State University researcher. The marbling cuts through the beef versus around it.

Wagyu has a slightly lower melting point than most beef; it has a high monounsaturated fatty acid profile and is high in Omega 3 and Omega 6, giving it a savory taste sensation.

2Slow growersWagyu cattle in pasture.
Wagyu are not as big and fast as Angus cattle, said Wagyu cattle producer Francis Pang, of Navarre. They are leaner, finishing at around 1,500 pounds and take around 400-450 days to finish out.

But, they also consume less in that longer period of time. Fluharty said Wagyu gain around two pounds per day and have a dry matter intake of around 1.9-2 percent. The gain they put down is concentrated in fat.

3Docile
The Wagyu breed is generally more docile than other breeds of cattle. They adapt well to different environments and can be raised on traditional beef operations.

“They are not an exotic animal,” said Brooke Pidgeon, beef farmer from Homeworth. “They are born and raised here (in the U.S.).”

4Birth efficiency
Wagyu cattle tend to have a better birth efficiency because cattle are born smaller (around 60 pounds). And, according to Pidgeon, they are good mothers.

5Dairy industry
Wagyu could play a role in helping the dairy industry. Research is being done with the American Jersey Cattle Association to see how crossing Jersey cattle with Wagyu could help dairies develop a niche market for Jersey beef. Jersey beef also has a lower melting point and slightly better marbling than other cattle breeds.

For more information visit Ohio’s Wagyu industry page.

(Farm and Dairy is featuring a series of “101” columns throughout the year to help young and beginning farmers master farm living. From finances to management to machinery repair and animal care, farmers do it all.)

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