The History of Wagyu Genetics and the Value of Our Modern Wagyu Beef
Modern chefs and culinary connoisseurs alike are on the lookout for ultra-rich beef to satiate the finer palates. If you’re looking for the best beef across the globe, you’ve likely heard of Wagyu beef. Originating from Japan, Wagyu beef has become a top delicacy for diners of all preferences, relying on ethical ranching practices to ensure a healthy, delicious result for your taste buds.
If you’re ready to taste the exceptional marbling and unbelievable flavor of Wagyu, Colorado Reserve Wagyu in Elizabeth is here to serve! Our ranch offers quality Wagyu beef products along the Denver Metro area in quarter-, half-, or whole-cow packages. We also offer our seedstock program to help ranchers grow their own American Wagyu with the help of our Tajima-influenced herd.
Before you can truly appreciate the effort and years of experience that goes into crafting such an exquisite meal, it can help to understand where Wagyu cows came from. Keep reading for a brief history lesson in Wagyu genetics, and be sure to contact us if you have any questions about our quality Wagyu beef selection!
Humble Beginnings in Japan
Japan and its islands were introduced to livestock between 500 B.C.E. and 300 C.E., as domestic animals made their way to the country from mainland Asia. Initially, cattle were relied on for agriculture and farming, carrying the load when farming rice. Tajima, one of the prime black Wagyu strains, were heavily relied on for their strength and ability to pull carts. Buddhist leaders eventually prohibited the eating of flesh (especially for animals with four legs), halting many plans to use cattle for meat consumption.
The Meiji Restoration began in 1867, allowing cattle to be crossbred for consumption by 1868. At this stage, the focus on Wagyu cattle shifted from strength and performance to meat production and milk. The Japanese government opened imports to allow the introduction of Western culture, which included a range of European cattle breeds.
The influx of new ranching and farming techniques in Japan led to a closure of trade in 1910, as the cattle quality was on the decline. During this isolation, the perfection of Wagyu beef began, focusing on responsible practices and high-quality techniques to raise better cattle. By 1919, the government had begun the process of selecting and registering improved cattle breeds.
Today, these four breeds are known collectively as Wagyu (Wagyu translating to Japanese Cow), with each originating from a different prefecture. Kobe beef, for example, comes from Kobe, a city in the Hyogo prefecture. Japanese Wagyu must undergo extensive testing to ensure only the highest-quality genes are passed on. It’s important to note that the isolation of each region resulted in different breeding and feeding techniques, creating unique flavors and compositions for each variety of beef.
Wagyu Cattle Comes to the USA
Wagyu cattle were introduced to the U.S. in 1975. 14 years later, Japan reduced the tariffs on exported beef, encouraging US ranchers to import more high-quality Wagyu. The 1990s consisted of a considerable influx of Black and Red Wagyu, with black cattle making up a majority of the genetic pool.
In 1993, three female and two male Tajima cattle were brought into the US for genetic improvement. By 1997, the Japanese government had classified their Wagyu cattle as a national treasure, preventing further exportation to other countries.
Wagyu Beef Today
Today’s Wagyu population comes from less than 200 purebred cattle that arrived in the United States in the mid-1990s. While you can find Wagyu cattle in more than 30 countries worldwide, their genetic makeup can vary widely based on the species used in crossbreeding. The American Wagyu Association uses the term “fullblood” to include any cattle descended from the original Wagyu that was imported from Japan. Chefs, geneticists, and meat lovers all over the world rely on the genetics and stringent raising practices that create a beef dish that cannot be matched in quality.
Wagyu cattle are renowned for their unparalleled health and ability to adapt to a range of climate conditions. Many connoisseurs seek out a cross of Wagyu cattle with other genetic lines to improve the meat grade and marbling qualities of their current cattle.
Try the Quality of Our Wagyu
Colorado Reserve Wagyu is proud to be among the few trusted professionals to raise the less than 6,000 fullblood Wagyu in the United States today. Our team takes a holistic approach to raising Wagyu cattle, and the difference shows in the flavor of our beef. If you’d like to learn more about our cattle’s genetics and DNA testing, seedstock program, or how to buy our Wagyu beef raised here in the Denver Metro area, feel free to contact us today!