Which Type of Cattle Produce Wagyu?

Japanese Wagyu has become world-renowned for its unique flavor, marbling, and texture. This exquisite beef has become highly sought-after by chefs, restaurants, and food enthusiasts worldwide. So where exactly does this luxury item come from? 

Wagyu: “Wa”-Japanese Gyu-”Cow” 

Wagyu can be produced by only four types of cattle. These cattle have been carefully bred to produce beef up to Japan’s strict grading standards. 

  1. Japanese Black (Kuroge) 
  2. Japanese Shorthorn 
  3. Japanese Polled 
  4. Japanese Brown

All four wagyu breeds are raised by passionate ranchers who dedicate their lives to providing the highest quality of care- paying crucial attention to the diets and environments of their cattle. To ensure consistent quality and transparent traceability throughout this process, cattle are identified at birth via nose prints, birth records, and unique Cattle ID numbers. 

Difference in Cattle 

Japanese Black cattle are the most popular in terms of producing Wagyu and are best known for producing Kobe beef. These cattle are the largest of the four breeds and come from the Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures. Japanese Shorthorn cattle are smaller than Japanese Black and tend to have slightly lower marbling scores. They are raised in the Akita, Aomori, and Iwate Prefectures. Japanese Polled are raised in the Yamaguchi Prefecture, and Japanese Brown are developed in the Kochi Prefecture. 

Diet and Environment

The diet of Wagyu cattle primarily consists of wheat, rice, corn, barley, and region-specific wholesome foods. The diets of these cattle are carefully monitored throughout each phase of their feeding period as ranchers pay close attention to food intake and exercise. Although monitoring diet is an extensive factor in raising wagyu cattle, their environment must be carefully maintained as well. To support the fine marbling of these cattle, it is important they are not exposed to, or live in, high stress environments. 

Each phase in raising cattle has been carefully formulated to ensure that cattle produce the proper marbling and texture that Wagyu beef has become so famously known for. The meticulous process of raising these cattle, allows these dedicated Japanese ranchers to consistently produce finely marbled and perfectly textured beef.