Our Wagyu herd was started in 1999 when we purchased embryos from Takada Farms in the USA. These genetics were originally imported from Japan. We had to complete a biological impact study before the progeny could be registered with the South African Studbook Association. The breeding of the original embryos was TF Terutani, TF Itohana 2. We subsequently used the following A.I. sires: Michifuku, Takazakura and the Westholm sires Hirashige Tayashu ETJ001 and Kitateruyasu Doi ETJ003.
We have started a small feedlot and are feeding Wagyu and Wagyu/Angus crosses. We are presently supplying carcasses of 350-400 kg to a few selected clients. Our Wagyu herd numbers 250 females at present and we aim to have 300 purebred cows.
Wagyu cattle have been bred for hundreds of years and are regarded as a national treasure in Japan, in fact for many years only the Emperor, his family and his Samurai could eat Wagyu beef. There are many stories about these imperial cattle being massaged, fed on beer and then sold at astronomical prices in Tokyo's top restaurants.
This is not just folklore. The Japanese have devoted extraordinary care and attention to the rearing of this unusual breed of cattle, focusing on the quality rather than the quantity of the beef. For several years now Japanese Wagyu meat, also known as 'Kobe'-style beef, has enjoyed increasing popularity. Experts and gourmets, who have recently discovered Wagyu beef, consider it to be the most tender, most succulent and tastiest meat in the world. Wagyu beef has now taken Europe the USA and Australia by storm, with New Yorkers paying $100 for Wagyu burgers.
Wagyu beef is different because of its wonderful marbling which results in a never-before-experienced succulence that sends the taste buds reeling. The fat in the meat contains monounsaturated fats that melt at room temperature, which makes Wagyu beef suitable as part of a lower-cholesterol diet. The high degree of marbling adds an extraordinary depth of flavour that makes Wagyu beef a culinary delicacy.
Latest research from Pennsylvania State University shows that Wagyu beef can actually help to reduce cholesterol levels. The monounsaturated to saturated fat ratio is higher in Wagyu than in any other beef. Even the saturated fat contained in Wagyu is different. Forty percent is in a version called stearic acid, which is regarded as having a minimal effect in raising cholesterol levels. Wagyu beef contains large amounts of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids and it can in fact be described as a healthier type of beef.
The first Wagyu genetic material was introduced into South Africa during 1998. We had to complete a biological impact study at the ARC in Irene to get the breed accepted into South Africa. There is huge interest in the Wagyu breed at present.
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