There's a lot of marketing slang that will differentiate different kinds of Wagyu.. beef but what does it all mean? We hear of Kobe Beef, American Kobe, American Wagyu, Purebred Wagyu, Fullblood Wagyu, we hear all kinds of things it seems anymore.
Let's start with the basics: Wagyu. Wagyu is a cattle breed originating from Japan. Wagyu refers to all Japanese cattle. 'Wa' means Japanese and 'gyu' means cow. Wagyu cattle can either be black or red, and are a dominate horned breed.
Originally used as draft animals in Japan, Wagyu cattle were picked for their physical endurance generation after generation. These selections favored animals for their intra-muscular fat cells (marbling) that ultimately provided animals with more readily available energy.
Wagyu cattle were first imported into the United States in 1975 with Fullblood Black and Red Wagyu bulls. In 1997, Japan declared the Wagyu cattle breed a living national treasure and placed a ban on the exportation of live cattle. Within this short period of years, less than 200 Wagyu cattle were imported into the United States.
We are pretty lucky to have what we have for Wagyu cattle in the States today. Known for the extreme amount of marbling, Wagyu beef is described to be rich, buttery, tender and juicy. Known to have a higher mono-saturated to saturated fat ratio, it's known to have a lower melting point as well. Wagyu beef is described to have a healthier kind of fat, as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 qualities.
Now let's get into the differences in marketing context when dealing with Wagyu Beef:
Kobe Beef: Beef from Fullblood Wagyu cattle that originate from Japan's Hyogo Perfecture region, which the capital city is Kobe. Strict guidelines ensure these cattle are born, raised and harvested in this region. Authentic Kobe Beef is the most rich beef and most sought after, though in United States restaurants it can cost upwards of $30-60 an ounce.
Fullblood Wagyu: Beef that comes from 100% Wagyu genetics. These cattle can come from any part of the world though they must be able to prove genetic linkage through DNA testing. These genetic tests, done through hair and blood tests, are commonly regulated through the American Wagyu Association and the Australian Wagyu Association. The pedigrees on theses animals trace genetic linkage all the way back to cattle born and raised in Japan.
Purebred Wagyu: Beef that comes from atleast 93.75% Wagyu genetics. These cattle can be registered as Purebred Wagyu through verified DNA testing. Registrations through Wagyu Associations will prove pedigrees of such animals. Purebred Wagyu have genes that trace all the way back from animals born and raised in Japan, while also having a very small percentage of other blood in it's genes, most commonly Angus.
American Wagyu (or American Kobe): Originating from F1 Wagyu cross beef animals, American Wagyu beef is the most popular Wagyu beef seen across America. Most common cattle crosses include a Purebred or Fullblood Wagyu bull crossed with an Angus cow. This animal will have around a 50% Wagyu gene pool. This is a beneficial cross, as the bulls are efficient to pass on genetics while taking advantage of the motherly ability of the Angus cow. The resulting cross is more feed efficient, have a larger carcass, more economical to produce, and can still grade 70-90% Prime+. This cross is a more economical offering for the American market, and is more consistently readily available.
Our Purebred Wagyu Cow herd is the foundation to our program. Raising our own Purebred Wagyu bulls from this herd, we are able to improve our genetics faster through artificial insemination (A.I.). Our cows graze cornstalks in the fall and winter until there gets to be too much snow. The cows are then brought home to be fed hay daily in preparation for Spring calving.
North 40 Premium Beef started as offering American Wagyu direct from our farm to your table! We have used Purebred Wagyu bulls to breed our Angus cows, producing a high quality F1 cross. We have enjoyed the high libido and low birth weights offered by the Purebred Wagyu Bulls. The Wagyu breed is known for the calving ease and hardiness of animals in the harsh Nebraska weather. Our Angus cows will produce a superior milk product for their calves, while having a high fertility rate and sought-after docility. We have our own herd of Purebred Wagyu breeding cows used to produce our next generation of breeding bulls. In 2017 we introduced Artificial Insemination (A.I.) into our breeding program. This allows us to use the top of the breed bulls from around the World to breed with our cows. We are selecting our next genetics by proven marbling characteristics in the sires. Our Purebred Wagyu Bulls are registered with the American Wagyu Association. We DNA test all of our Purebred animals to ensure genetic linkage tracing back to Japanese genetics. This is done by collecting a hair and tissue sample from each individual calf. However, not every Purebred Wagyu animal makes breeding quality. Those that don't are finished out to offer a Purebred Wagyu beef product that is of even a higher degree of marbling.
Contact us today to learn more about how to acquire some Purebred Wagyu beef that was born and raised on our farm! Whole, Halves, and Quarters of finished Purebred Wagyu beef will be offered on a limited time basis only!
As always, Bon Appetit!