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Kobe Beef

Kobe Beef...Where Does it come from?

The word Wagyu refers to all Japanese cattle ("Wa" means Japanese "gyu" means cattle). This breed that produces Kobe Beef, which was named for the city where the Wagyu cattle were first bred 172 years ago. The original import of these cattle to the U.S. in 1976 consisted of two Tottori Black Wagyu and two Kumamoto Red Wagyu bulls. That was the only importation of Wagyu into the U.S. until 1993 when two male and three female Tajima cattle were imported and 1994 when 35 male and female cattle consisting of both red and black genetics reached the U.S. Wagyu were derived from native Asian cattle which were crossed with British and European breeds in the late 1800s. Although the breed was closed to outside bloodlines in 1910, regional isolation has produced a number of different lines with varying conformations:


Tajima - These were used to pull carts and ploughs so they developed larger forequarters and lighter hindquarters. They are generally smaller-framed with slower growth rates but produce excellent meat quality.

Tottori - These were pack animals in the grain industry so they are larger animals with straight, strong backlines and generally good growth rates but variable meat quality.

Shimane - These are large-framed cattle with average growth rates and meat quality.

Kochi - These red lines were strongly influenced by Korean lines.

Kumamoto - These red lines have a Simmental influence and were mostly bred in a region where there was an abundance of grassland. 

Wagyu is a horned breed and can be either black or red.  Black animals are perceived to have the best quality meat.  Calves are vigorous and average 70 pounds when born.  Wagyu are renowned for their marbling, calving ease, early puberty and good fertility, docile temperament, and are hardy and adaptive to different environments.

It takes three years for the cattle to become ready to go to market. They start out in the pastures for twelve months then are put on high energy grain diets for another 500 days. Some methods also include massage techniques and the implementation of Sake, Beer, and even classical music into the daily feeding program. This process gives the Waygu Kobe Beef a high quality meat with a great marbling effect and the meat has a creamy type flavor which is influenced by the taste of the fat as it dissolves' when the meat is cooked. The Waygu Kobe Beef is graded depending on the amount of marbled fat within the meat, the higher the fat content, the higher the grade, and the more delicious the meat.

*Consumer Health Facts*

Biochemistry tests conducted by Washington State University on Wagyu fatty tissue indicate that the fat from this breed has a healthier fatty acid profile and an unsaturated-to-saturate fat ratio of 2- to-1 instead of the 1-to-1 ratio of regular beef. Because of the Wagyu cattle's genetic predisposition and special diet including beer and sake , wagyu yields a beef that contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than typical beef. The increased marbling also improves the ratio of monounsaturated fats to saturated fats .


*Washington State University "Wagyu" Study*



**Kobe Beef Marbling Sample**

Extensive fat marbling in slices of high-grade Wagyu beef ***Extensive fat marbling in slices of high-grade Wagyu beef ***

Wagyu ( 和牛 wagyū ? ) refers to several breeds of cattle genetically predisposed to intense marbling and to producing a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat . Also known as, the meat from Wagyu cattle is known worldwide for its marbling characteristics, increased eating quality through a naturally enhanced flavor, tenderness and juiciness, and thus a high market value. Grocery stores in the United States will sell cuts of American Wagyu for $40/lb to $150/lb (€64/kg to €240/kg).


Echoing France's desire to limit the use of the name " champagne " to sparkling wine produced in the Champagne region of France, in November 2006 Japan's Ministry of Agriculture decided to reject any beef labeled as "Wagyu" from cattle bred outside of Japan. The international Wagyu industry continues to refer to beef with Wagyu genetics as "Wagyu" regardless of its country of origin.


In 1976 the first Wagyu bulls, two Tottori Black and two Kumamoto Red, entered the United States. In 1993 two male and three Tajima cattle were imported and then in 1994 a mix of 36 Wagyu cattle were imported from Japan. With more than 10 Wagyu breeders and ranchers currently operating in the United States, Wagyu's domestic numbers have increased steadily ever since. The largest purebred group of the Wagyu breed of Akaushi cattle outside Japan is located in Texas. It was raised from a Japanese imported herd of 11 which was guarded by off-duty Texas Rangers to protect from interbreeding for over 12 years until the herd grew to over 5,000 cattle.

In Japan, Japanese full-blood Wagyu are typically raised confined in indoor barns to prevent movement and increase marbling while Wagyu cattle in the US are raised in pastures and finished in a feedyard. This breed has been named American Style Wagyu Kobe Beef and was originally produced for export to Japan but is now available world-wide.

Designed to mimic the diet that Japanese cattle were receiving, Wagyu cattle in the United States are fed a mixture of corn , alfalfa , barley and wheat straw .

Currently, the US does not ship Wagyu Beef to Japan due to trade restrictions, namely Japan's requirement that U.S. beef be from cattle 20 months or younger (Wagyu cattle are usually slaughtered at 30 - 35 months.)

American / Japanese Kobe Beef Marbling Standards

"The Wagyu Beef" - also known as " Kobe Beef" is the ultimate Japanese originated Beef. Wagyu Cattle are raised with pride and care, and they provide world class quality beef. Wagyu is strictly graded and sorted info five classes by professionals from the Japan Meat Grading Association from A 1 to A 5. A5 is the highest grade of Wagyu Beef. America uses the BMS, (Base Marbling Standard), that grades the marbling factors from 1 to 12. Grade 12 is the highest grade offered in the US.

One of the most important factors for grading beef quality is "marbling", which refers to the fine white layers of fat that run through lean beef and intensify flavor and tenderness. The" Wagyu Beef" has superior marbling that makes it " the most flavorful and tender beef in the world!" Furthermore, the fat in "The KOBE BEEF " melts at just 77F (25C), a lower temperature than any other beef. This explains why "The WAGYU BEEF " melts in your mouth for the ultimate burst of flavor from every mouth watering bite.

US and Japanese Grading Systems

BMS # 1 US/ Japanese Grade 1

BMS # 2 US/ Japanese Grade 2

BMS # 3 US/ Japanese Grade 3

BMS # 4 US/ Japanese Grade 3

BMS # 5 US/ Japanese Grade 4

BMS # 6 US/ Japanese Grade 4

BMS # 7 US/ Japanese Grade 4

BMS #8 US/ Japanese Grade 5

BMS # 9 US/ Japanese Grade 5

BMS # 10 US/ Japanese Grade 5

BMS # 11 US/ Japanese Grade 5

BMS # 12 US/ Japanese Grade 5


  1. wikapedia.com,"Wagyu", 2007.
  2. Condon, John. " Good Fats Boost Wagyu Opportunities ", Australian Wagyu Update, 2005-03. Retrieved on 2006 - 12-07 .  
  3. Houghton, Des. " Japanese claim Wagyu Name ", The Courier Mail , 2006-11-10. Retrieved on 2006 - 12-07 .  
  4. Roberts, Michelle. " Japanese cow herd protected, coddled for 12 years to make Kobe beef ", Deseret News (Salt Lake City), July 17, 2007. Retrieved on 2007 - 09-15 .  
  5. http://www.wagyu.org/JapanLabeling01.doc

Japanese Grading System

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American Grading System

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