Japanese Wagyu History

Considered a national treasure in Japan, Wagyu cattle offer an unrivaled eating experience and valuable traits for the commercial cattleman or local beef producer. This unique breed delivers quality and yield grade premiums, calving ease, docile temperament, early maturity, longevity, and heat tolerance.

Wagyu originated from the native Asian cattle with a minor influence of British and Continental breeds. The small Wagyu population that now exists outside of Japan descends from approximately 200 black plus a few red cattle that were exported between 1976 and 1998. Thereafter, the Japanese became highly protective of the breed and no further exports have taken place.

The black Wagyu herd in the U.S. came primarily from three Japanese prefectures (counties) located in southern Japan: Hyogo, Shimane, and Tottori. The red Wagyu were produced in Kumamoto prefecture on the island of Kyushu. The rugged terrain and isolation of each of these prefectures led to different characteristics in their cattle.

Most Wagyu cattle in the U.S. descend from the bull Tajiri and are known as Tajima. While noted for excellent marbling, this strain typically produces smaller frame, slower growth, and less milk than those from the Shimane/Itozakura, Tottori/Kedaka, or Kumamoto red strains. Unlike some of the early breeders, we prefer a balance of traits, producing cattle that grow well and have good maternal qualities while not sacrificing marbling. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the various bloodlines guides our breeding decisions. Contact us to discuss how we can improve the characteristics of your herd!