Simply put, wagyu means “Japanese cow”, but it is much more than that.
Wagyu has a genetic predisposition to create an inter-muscular fat (or marbling) throughout the meat itself.
Wagyu beef is different from normal beef cuts which have a fat cap on the outside of the meat, with wagyu the beast metabolises the fat internally, so it is integrated within the muscle itself. This creates the rich and flavoursome finish which is uniquely wagyu.
Is Wagyu healthy?
Wagyu beef has up to 300% more monounsaturated fat than normal beef due to the high marbling of the meat. It is also incredibly high in both omega 3 and 6 content. Wagyu beef has the lowest cholesterol levels of all meats, even lower than fish or chicken, and it contains oleic acid which is considered good for your heart.
Below is a breakdown of common terms used in the industry and how the higher concentrate of full blood wagyu is more likely to achieve a higher marbling rate.
Wagyu Full Blood 100%
The offspring of a Full blood Wagyu sire and a Full blood Wagyu dam whose forebears originate from Japan and whose pedigrees show no evidence of any cross breeding.
Purebred Wagyu F4 93+%
Has greater than 93% Wagyu genetic content. For example, the result of at least four generations of crossbreeding using a Wagyu Fullblood sire and a Crossbred Wagyu F3 dam.
Crossbred Wagyu F3 87+%
Has greater than 87% Wagyu genetic content. For example is the result of at least three generations of crossbreeding, using a Wagyu full blood sire and a Crossbred Wagyu F2 dam.
Crossbred Wagyu F2 75%
Has 75% or higher Wagyu genetic content. For example is the result of at least two generations of crossbreeding, using a Wagyu full blood sire and a Crossbred Wagyu F1 dam.
Crossbred Wagyu F1 50%
Has 50% or higher Wagyu genetic content. For example the first generation of crossbreeding a Wagyu full blood sire and the dam of another breed.
Marbling in wagyu beef does not occur by accident, it is as much about nutrition as it is about genetics.
For breeding purposes, we look for animals that have a high marbling potential to breed from. Monitoring to ensure that adequate nutrition is available from pregnancy through to the carcass is undertaken to give the best possible outcome for the cow and calf for ‘whole of life’ meaning we stand by the product we produce.
Factors that impact the ‘gain potential’ of Wagyu cattle
The rate of weight gain is not constant as cattle grow from weaning to maturity. Rate of gain is influenced by frame size (mature size, growth pattern), the composition of gain (proportion of fat in gain compared to muscle) and body condition. Defining maturing through skeletal size assessment of Wagyu cattle identifies when marbling is promoted and assists in identifying final carcass weights. Wagyu breeding and feeding operations have capacity to record age of Wagyu calves and thereby accurately assess frame score. Grouping cattle by sex and frame size increases feeding efficiency by identifying animals that can most efficiently achieve desired carcass weights and marbling expression.