Economic Traits - Why Breed Wagyu
The important economic traits of the Wagyu breed are the
direct results of selection pressure brought on by the Japanese grading system and the
high premiums paid for the highest quality meat. The quality factors selected for under
their system include:
- Meat Yield: North American animals are averaged so the yield of an
individual is not considered. With Video Image Analysis a reality, it is possible to
reward individuals who produce high yielding animals. Wagyu cattle produce high yielding
- Beef Marbling: The Canadian grading system was
changed in 1992 to identify higher marbling carcasses. Ultrasound will identify the high
marbling strains of all breeds for reproduction of them. In the meantime, Wagyu has a big
- Meat Color and Brightness: Bright red meat will
attract the attention of consumers. Wagyu cattle have been selected for this trait for
- Meat Firmness and Texture: This is one of the most
important economic traits for which Wagyu beef has been selected.
- Fat Color, Luster and Quality: Appearance of meat in
the display counter can affect the decision to buy. Texas A&M Research indicated that
Wagyu beef produces more of the good fatty acids than other breeds.
If the Wagyu breed is to succeed in North America, the cattle
must thrive under North American production systems and climate. North American production
systems do not allow for pampering of beef cattle as in Japan.
- Bulls: The bulls
are generally gentle and easily handled. However, in breeding pastures they have been
found to be aggressive and to be effective in covering a large number of cows.
- Cows: The North American cow herd has steadily
increased in average weight in the past 20 years. Many production systems do not permit
the extra feeding and management needed by these large cows to produce a calf, cycle
promptly and settle quickly. Smaller cows have an advantage over big cows.
- Calves: The calves average 70 pounds when born. They
are vigorous and have an intense desire to live. There is documented proof available that
these calves can adapt to North American weather and production systems.
- Market Animals: Most animals fed to slaughter in
North America have been halfbloods. They yield and grade well. Wagyu crossbreds have good
daily gain and conversion rates.
A breed must thrive on North American ranches and farms if it
to be a success. Wagyu breeders can attest to the vigor and survivability of the Wagyu
breed in Western Canadian production systems.