How Do They Make Wagyu Beef?

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Wagyu beef is one of the most expensive and sought-after meats in the world. It is well known for having extensive marbling, which accounts for its tenderness and buttery flavor. There is nothing else in the world that tastes like wagyu beef, in fact.

Wagyu beef is only available in Japan, so you can’t find it anywhere else. Nothing compares to the genuine Japanese beef, which comes from four major cattle breeds: Black, Brown, Shorthorn, and Polled, even though the US and Australia have hybrid versions.

But the reason this beef is so good is because of the way it is raised.

The highly revered beef comes exclusively from Japan and is sourced from four main cattle breeds – Kuroge (Black), Aakage (Brown), Nihon Tankaku (Shorthorn) and Mukaku (Polled). The only way to consistently produce this exceptional quality meat is to practice the highest, most meticulous forms of cattle raising.

What Makes A Wagyu Cow?

“Wagyu” directly translated into English simply means “Japanese cow. ” However, not any Japanese cow can become wagyu beef.

Types of Wagyu Cows

Wagyu beef is produced by four major native Japanese cattle breeds. Here is the list:

  • Japanese Shorthorn
  • Japanese Black
  • Japanese Polled
  • Japanese Brown (sometimes called Japanese Red)

All wagyu cows are medium-sized and horned. None are given growth hormones. Due to the dark color of their horn ends, the wagyu breeds are simple to identify.

How Do They Make Wagyu Beef?

Do All Wagyu Beef Come From Japanese Cows?

There are pure wagyu products made entirely from native Japanese breeds. A5-rated Wagyu steak is made from full-blooded Japanese cows, which some people believe to be the best.

Authentic Vs. Mixed Breeding

Modern wagyu genetics is heavily influenced by mixed breeding. As early as the Meiji restoration period in the 1800s, Wagyu cattle were crossed with foreign cows like Devon, Ayrshire, Korean, Shorthorn, Brown Swiss, and Simmental.

Wagyu Cows in the US and Australia

Wagyu beef raised in the United States, the United Kingdom, or Australia most likely came from cross-breeding.

This is not entirely a bad thing. All certified wagyu have a lot of good fats, which gives the meat its famously juicy flavor.

What Makes Wagyu Cattle Breeds So Special?

The wagyu breeds, in contrast to ordinary cows (and people), have the extraordinary capacity to store fat within their muscles even after receiving three meals per day. This explains why prime wagyu cuts, as opposed to typical steak, have fat deposits that are evenly distributed.

The Sought-After Quality Standard

Wagyu cattle frequently receive the coveted A5 steak grading due to these uniformly marbled fat deposits. This grading system identifies the beef’s intramuscular fat content. The quality of the meat improves with increasing IMF.

Connoisseurs prize the flavor of wagyu beef, which is characterized by this marbling texture.

How Are Wagyu Cattle Raised?

The maturation of the cows can take up to three years before they are sold at auction. The cows remain in feeding farms until they reach at least 1500 lbs (about 680kg) of weight, and gain muscle and a body mass index of 50% fat

Farmers go above and beyond to ensure that cows receive a balanced diet in order for them to achieve these developmental milestones.

All Calves are Genetically Certified before Sale

Wagyu calves are raised by specialty breeders until they are seven to ten months old. A birth certificate revealing the calves’ lineage is given to them at this time.

The certified cows are then sold at auction in Japan to farmers who will fatten them. A wagyu breeder closely monitors each cow to make certain they meet the developmental goals.

The Cows Get Plenty of Rigorous Activity

Wagyu cows are raised in open pastures with unrestricted access to the outdoors. A cow may not share a pen with more than five other animals. In contrast to factory farms where cattle are raised, where a herd of animals may share a pen,

Wagyu cows are kept in a stress-free environment by Japanese farmers. It’s thought that too much stress can lead to tough meat that is unpleasant to eat. As a result, respectable wagyu farmers go above and beyond to let their cattle graze.

How Do They Make Wagyu Beef?

Facilitating a Stress Free Environment

Free roaming isn’t the only perk. One of the commis chefs I used to work with told me about how Japanese farmers would play classical music for their cows, presumably to get their blood flowing.

Is Wagyu Beef Raised on Classical Music?

Traditional farming practices aim to improve the animals’ blood circulation, though most farmers don’t actually do this.

Do Wagyu Cattle Really Get Massages?

A wagyu cow is routinely massaged with a stiff brush on traditionally run feeding farms. The stiff brush not only relieves the animals’ stress but also massages their muscles, promoting blood flow to their stiff joints.

The four primary breeds of cattle typically receive this kind of time-consuming pampering. It’s one of the factors that contribute to wagyu beef’s high price.

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What Are Wagyu Cattle Fed To Ensure They Produce Good Meat?

The reason this prized beef tastes so good is largely due to a healthy diet and rigorous exercise.

In order for the cows to reach their target weights and fat percentages, farmers feed them high-energy ingredients.

Ingredients for Cattle Feeding

The high energy ingredients include wheat and grains. The cows are fed three meals per day. They can gain up to 2 pounds (or 900 grams) per day on this diet.

In the summer, they can graze freely and consume a lot of vitamins.

Instead of local produce, the cattle are raised on imported, higher-quality grain. This is a significant factor in the high cost of wagyu beef.

How Do They Make Wagyu Beef?

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Beware of Inauthentic Meats

It’s crucial to remember that not all farms regularly massage and pamper their cows. According to reports, there are some farms that force-feed animals unnatural foods like beer.

Checking for Authentic Produce

Because of this, you should always look for certification from professional organizations, like the American Jersey Cattle Association, that attests to the fact that you are purchasing genuine Japanese wagyu beef or premium cross breeds.

Can Wagyu Cows Be Raised In The US?

Yes, they can, and a few farmers already do this.

You might encounter the opulent meats known as American wagyu in the US. This meat is produced through the crossbreeding of an Angus cow and a Japanese purebred cow.

Taste of the American Version

The end result is a cut with a lot of fat that resembles tough meat like Angus. I’ve tried both, and the primary distinction is that the American version doesn’t melt in your mouth as well.

However, US wagyu is not at all a tough meat. It is higher in protein so you can eat more.

Before it is served in restaurants, one of the most expensive steaks in the world is raised in this manner.

Day in the Life of a Japanese Wagyu Beef Farmer


How does a cow become Wagyu?

A purebred cow must have genetic ties to one of the four Japanese-born breeds listed below in order to be given the wagyu designation in Japan: Akage Washu (Japanese Brown), Kuroge Washu (Japanese Black), Mukaku Washu (Japanese Polled), or Nihon Tankaku Washu (Japanese Shorthorn).

Is Wagyu beef humanely raised?

The Wagyu beef cattle raising methods used in Japan are, in the opinion of TruBeef, highly cruel and out of touch with the animals’ natural instincts for a diet based solely on pasture.

Why is Wagyu beef so special?

Wagyu beef contains more monounsaturated fats and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than other beef. This low-melting-point soft fat not only imparts a wonderful texture but also retains the majority of the flavor.

What do they feed Wagyu cows?

Japanese Wagyu cattle are traditionally fed a combination of grass and grain to ensure their distinctively high marbling. In New Zealand, where the majority of cattle are grass-fed, First Light Farms have taken Wagyu to the next level by raising Wagyu cattle on a 100% grass-fed diet

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