Friday, December 18, 2009



What are they? Where did they come from?

The word Wagyu refers to all Japanese beef cattle ('Wa' means Japanese or japanese-style and 'gyu' means cattle).

Most of the cattle were influenced by British and Continental breeds for a few generations nearly 100 years ago. Brown Swiss, Shorthorn, Devon, Simmental, Ayrshire, Korean, Holstein and Angus had been imported by 1887 and impacted today's Wagyu.

Crossbreeding was prominent for several years, but when the price of crossbreds collapsed in 1910 no further crossbreeding was conducted. The result was selection for specific traits determined by region and extensive linebreeding was used to achieve those traits.

The dominant black Wagyu strains are Tottori, Tajima, Shimane, and Okayama. Tajima cattle, bred in the Tajima region, were originally chosen and bred for their heavy forequarters because their primary use was to pull carts. They tend to be smaller and less heavily muscled than the Tottori breed. Tottori cattle, because they were used as pack animals for the grain industry of the Tottori region, were selected for their size and strength of topline.

The other main "breed" of Wagyu, was developed on the island of Kyushu and are red in color. As with the blacks, there are two distinct strains-Kochi and Kumamoto. Kochi cattle were strongly influenced by Korean breeding while Kumamoto are believed to have considerable Simmental influence.

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.

The History of Kobe Beef in Japan

By John W. Longworth

Eating meat from four legged animals was prohibited in Japan for more than a thousand years prior to 1868. This ban was especially strict during the Edo Period (1603-1867). Buddhist influences were primarily responsible for this dietary restriction, but other cultural factors and the need to protect draught animals in times of famine may have reinforced the taboo. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the new leaders of Japan wanted, among other things, to reduce traditional social barriers and to encourage the adoption of beneficial Western habits. There may also have been a desire to weaken the power of the Buddhists. Lifting the ban on the eating of meat was a small step towards these objectives. Nevertheless, it must have astounded the nobility of the day to see the young Emperor Meiji eating beef.
Meiji (1852-1912), emperor of Japan (1867-1912), born Prince Mutsuhito and the 122nd emperor in the traditional count, whose accession to the throne marked the beginning of a national revolution known as the Meiji Restoration.

Despite the formal rescinding of the prohibition against the eating of meat in the late 1860’s, the consumption of meat remained extremely low for another century. Until very recent times meat (niku in Japanese) usually meant pork in eastern Japan (roughly from Tokyo to Hokkaido) and beef in western Japan (from Nagoya/Osaka to Kyushu). Historically, and even today, the people of the Kinki Region (Kyoto, Kobe, and Osaka) have been the heaviest beef eaters.

For millennia the people of Japan lived on a diet of rice, vegetables, and seafood eaten with hashi (chopsticks). Although the meat taboo was removed over a hundred years earlier, by 1980 the average Japanese ate only 5.1 kg of beef (carcass weight basis). In some Western countries, where income levels are comparable with those in Japan, the average person commonly devours ten times this quantity each year. Although the younger generation has grown up with Western cuisine, knife and fork, most Japanese still enjoy beef best when it is prepared as very thin slices, cooked in the traditional manner and eaten with hashi.

From about 1955 onwards, the mechanization of rice cultivation led to an increase in the availability of beef, as large numbers of draught cattle were fattened and slaughtered. At the same time the rapid economic growth, which started with the Korean War boom, was gaining momentum. People could afford the luxury of meat more often.

Wagyu in Cows in Matsusaka are bought in Tajima (Hyogo), Shimane and Shikoku. There is no breeding in Matsusaka.

The Origins of Kobe Beef

The creation of genuine Kobe (or Matsuzaka or Omi) beef is a mystical folk art which may have been practiced as an underground cult before 1868. Some sources claim that certain daimyo and even some shoguns enjoyed especially fattened beef from Hihone hab (now Shiga Prefecture, the home of Omi beef). Most Japanese believe, however, that the art of producing Omi, Matusaka, or Kobe beef cannot be traced back to feudal times.

Kobe beef traditionally comes from Wagyu cattle. “Wa” is a very old Japanese language term for Japan, or things Japanese, and one of the meanings of “gyu” is beef, with an “on the hoof” connotation. There are four commercial breeds of Wagyu:

Name of modern breed

Region and prefecture in which the breed developed

European breeds crossed with native cattle

% of national beef breed herd (1981)

Japanese Black

Kinki – Kyoto

Brown Swiss


Kinki – Hyogo

Shorthorn, Devon, Brown Swiss

Chugoku – Okayama

Shorthorn, Devon

Chugoku -Hiroshima

Simmental, Brown Swiss, Shorthorn, Ayrshire

Chugoku – Tottori

Brown Swiss, Shorthorn

Chugoku – Shimene

Devon, Brown Swiss, Simmental, Ayrshire

Chugoku - Yamaguchi

Devon, Ayrshire, Brown Swiss

Shikoku – Ehime


Kyushu – Oita

Brown Swiss, Simmental

Kyushu -Kagoshima

Brown Swiss, Devon, Holstein

Japanese Brown

Shikoku – Kochi

Simmental, Korean Cattle


Kyushu - Kumamoto

Simmental, Korean Cattle, Devon

Japanese Poll

Chugoku – Yamaguchi

Aberdeen Angus


Japanese Shorthorn

Tohoku – Aomori

Shorthorn, Dairy Shorthorn

Tohoku – Iwate

Shorthorn, Dairy Shorthorn

Tohoku – Akita

Shorthorn, Devon, Ayrshire

Source: Derived from Kiyoshi Namikawa, “Animal Genetic Resources in Japan,” in S. Barker (ed.). Proceedings of the SABRAO Workshop on Animal Genetic Resources in Asia and Oceania. NEKKEN SHIRYO No. 47, Tropical Agricultural Research Centre, MAFF, Japan.

These four breeds are now considered indigenous to Japan, but are not genuinely native cattle. There are two isolated populations of native cattle in existence. The Mishima wild cattle on Mishima Island (located in the Sea of Japan off Yamaguchi Prefecture) have never been crossed with modern European breeds. While they represent a genuine genetic curiosity, as of 1983 there were fewer than 40 head. The second, and more numerous, are a group of wild cattle on Kuchinoshima Island south-west of Kagoshima Prefecture. The progenitors of both the Mishima and Kuchinoshima cattle were probably brought to Japan by the ancestors of the modern Japanese people more than 2,000 years ago. Biochemical and genetic tests indicate that the native cattle are more closely related to the cattle of Northern Europe and Scandanavia than they are to the cattle indigenous to Taiwan, the Philippines, and other South East Asian Countries.

The four modern Japanese breeds are the result of a substantial infusion of European blood during the Meiji Era, together with a government-sponsored selection programme initiated in 1919. For several decades prior to 1910, there was a great interest in importing European breeds to cross with native cattle. The basic aim was to improve the native strains for draught purposes, but better meat production was also a consideration. Exotic breeds were extremely popular and the price of pure-bred and cross-bred exotic animals often reached unreasonable levels, until the bubble burst in 1910. After this date, the importation of European breeds went out of fashion.

After World War I, the Japanese Government decided to encourage the selection and registration of cattle exhibiting superior traits of both native and foreign types. There was a considerable gene pool to draw upon, as a wide range of European blood had been introduced to Japan. This variation, together with the original differences among the native cattle, permitted selection according to different criteria in various parts of the country. After World War II, the National Government moved to rationalize the registration process and formally recognized three major Wagyu types or breeds: Japanese Black, Japanese Brown, and Japanese Poll. The National Wagyu Cattle Registration Association was established in 1948.

The Japanese Black breed included several fairly distinct types, and this is still the case today (e.g. Tottori, Tajima, and Hiroshima strains). The Japanese Shorthorn was not formally established until 1957.

After careful selection and breeding over the last five decades, there are slight differences in the concept of the “true type” for each breed, but many similarities. All four breeds have been selected for beef production alone for more than forty years. In all four breeds the aim is to produce a medium-sized, beef-type animal. All of the breeds are humpless but the bulls tend to develop a marked crest. While the ideal mature body weight and height at the withers differ marginally between the four breeds, the targets for the Japanese Black are typical:



Body weight (kg)



Wither height (cm)



While it is hard to generalize, two traits of the Japanese Black often cited as disadvantageous are their narrow pin bones and their relatively poor milking capacity. The narrow pin bones create calving difficulties if the cows are crossed with bulls of the large-framed European breeds (such as Holstein or Charolais). The poor milking ability increases the costs of raising feeder calves since the calves often need artificial supplements.

On the other hand, the Japanese Blacks (in particular the Tajima strain) are noted for their capacity to produce beef with a high degree of fat marbling (or sashi). It is this characteristic more than any other which accounts for the steady increase in the popularity of the Japanese Black breed.

According to the website of the California BBQ Association, "In order to protect its domestic beef industry, the Japanese government imposed strict laws that prohibited the export of any living Japanese Wagyu cattle. However, in 1976, four Wagyu animals were imported into the U.S.: two Tottori Black Wagyu and two Kumamoto Red Wagyu bulls. Then in 1993, two male and three female Tajima cattle were imported, and 35 male and female cattle (consisting of both red and black Wagyu) were imported in 1994.

"Most Kobe Beef today is bred and raised in California and Australia. For example, Harris Ranch in California is contracted with beef producers in Kobe to breed and raise their cattle in California, where land and grain is relatively inexpensive. The cattle is raised and fed under the exacting specifications for Kobe Beef. When the cattle is almost ready for slaughter, it is shipped to Kobe, Japan, where its feeding is completed, and the cattle is slaughtered."

From Beef in Japan by Prof. John W. Longworth, University of Queensland Press, 1983. This book is currently out-of-print, and this information is used here with the kind permission of Prof. Longworth.

If any of this information has changed in the past 21 or so years, we would greatly appreciate it if you would please e-mail us. We will gladly update this information.

Daging Kobe gred dunia keluaran Malaysia
Utusan Malaysia, 11 Sept 2006

BEIJING 10 Sept. – Malaysia akan melancarkan projek pengeluaran daging gaya Kobe, satu daripada gred daging paling eksklusif di dunia daripada daging lembu Jepun bersumber dari Australia.

Pemangku Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Perkhidmatan Veterinar, Datuk Dr. Mustapa Abd Jalil berkata, sejumlah100 ekor lembu jantan ternakan Wagyu dan lembu-lembu betina kacukan akan diimport sebelum akhir tahun ini.

“Daging lembu Kobe adalah satu pasaran sampingan istimewa tetapi permintaan untuk daging seumpamanya sedang berkembang. Kami mengkaji mengeluarkan daging Kobe halal,” beliau memberitahu Bernama hari ini sebelum pulang ke Kuala Lumpur selepas menyertai satu delegasi ke China yang diketuai oleh Menteri Pertanian dan Indsutri Asas Tani Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Daging lembu Kobe adalah berbeza kerana tekstur dagingnya yang halus dan amat lembut. Ia dikeluarkan daripada lembu daging Jepun digelar Wagyu (‘Wa’ bermakna Jepun dan ‘Gyu’ bermakna lembu) yang diternak di bawah keadaan dimanjakan dengan bahan makanan gred terbaik yang dikawal, urutan khas dan musik.

Sebagai ganti bir atau ’sake’, haiwan yang diternak di Malaysia akan diberi makan bran gandum, kata Mustapa yang telah melawat sebuah ladang Wagyu milik Dalian

Xuelong Group di bandaraya pelaburan timur laut China di mana makanan lembu termasuk bir dan lembu itu mempunyai masa santai 10 jam dengan musik dimainkan untuk mereka sehari.

Secara teknikal, daging lembu Kobe merujuk kepada daging daripada lembu Wagyu yang dibesarkan dan disembelih di daerah Kobe, Jepun di mana ia boleh memperolehi AS$500 (RM1,800) sekilogram.

Kini, lembu jantan Wagyu dipelihara di Amerika Syarikat dan Australia dan daging gaya Kobe mungkin berharga AS$200 (RM720) sekilogram.

Mustapha berkata, Malaysia telah mencuba tetapi tidak berjaya memperoleh sumber lembu terus dari Jepun. Sehingga beberapa tahun kebelakangan, lembu Wagyu diternak keseluruhannya di Jepun.

Jabatan Perkhidmatan Veterinar akan memutuskan ladang yang akan digunakan untuk menempatkan lembu-lembu yang berharga RM12,000 bagi seekor lembu jantan ternakan tulen dan RM5,000 untuk lembu betina kacukan.

Institut Penyelidikan dan Pembangunan Pertanian akan diperuntukkan 40 ekor bagi penyelidikan manakala selebihnya akan diletakkan ke dalam program ternakan pertama selama kira-kira 18 bulan, tambahnya.– Bernama

january 31, 2008 15:50 PM

Pusat Embrio Haiwan Tingkat Kualiti Dan Bilangan Ternakan

KLUANG, 31 Jan (Bernama) -- Kualiti dan bilangan ternakan kambing dan lembu serta pengeluaran daging dalam negara akan dipertingkatkan melalui Pusat Embrio Haiwan Negara (NAEC) dan program Advanced Reproductive Biotechnology (ARB) yang dilancarkan hari ini, kata Menteri Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

"Kadar mampu diri bekalan daging dalam negara hanyalah kira-kira 20 peratus bagi lembu dan sembilan peratus bagi kambing, manakala selebihnya kita mengimport dari luar negara dan ini melibatkan pengaliran keluar wang negara yang banyak," katanya kepada pemberita di sini selepas merasmikan Showcase BioBisnes Mardi 2008 dan melancarkan NEAC serta ARB di Stesen Mardi Kluang.

Menerusi NAEC dan ARB, katanya, kementerian mensasarkan Malaysia akan mempunyai 1.5 juta ekor lembu, kambing dan biri-biri pada 2010.

NAEC yang akan beroperasi seiring dengan ARB, mempunyai pelbagai fungsi di antaranya, menjadi pusat pembangunan teknologi pembiakan ternakan terkini, penghasilan embrio daripada kambing dan lembu berkualiti, perkhidmatan teknikal dalam pembiakan ternakan terkini dan pusat simpanan gen, ova, sperma dan embrio ternakan untuk dimajukan.

Program ARB pula melibatkan pembelian baka lembu dan kambing dari dalam dan luar negara untuk mewujudkan kumpulan nukleus ternakan yang merupakan kumpulan elit.

Muhyiddin berkata ternakan elit itu akan disebarkan ke ladang-ladang ternakan satelit dan ladang pengganda di seluruh negara untuk meningkatkan bilangan ternakan.

NAEC dan ARB akan menumpukan kepada usaha membiak baka kambing Boer dari Afrika Selatan, yang dianggap sebagai di antara baka kambing yang terbaik di dunia dengan kombinasi daging dengan lemak yang bersesuaian.

Katanya kedua-dua pusat itu telah pun diperakui oleh Persatuan Penternak-Penternak Kambing Boer Afrika Selatan sebagai pusat pembiakan kambing Boer yang berupaya menghasilkan baka yang berkualiti tinggi.

Dua orang wakil persatuan itu hadir pada majlis berkenaan untuk menyampaikan sijil pengktirafan mereka.

Muhyiddin berkata dalam usaha kerajaan untuk merancakkan lagi pertumbuhan populasi kambing dan lembu dalam negara, ia mengambil beberapa langkah positif termasuk menubuhkan Ladang Kambing Boer Nasional di Pondok Tanjung, Perak dan Pusat Fidlot Negara di Negeri Sembilan.

Beliau juga berkata Jabatan Perkhidmatan Haiwan dan Mardi, kini menjalankan kajian yang dijangka akan mengambil masa setahun, untuk menternak lembu jenis "Wagyu" dari Australia di dalam negara.

Lembu "Wagyu" dikatakan setaraf dengan lembu Kobe Jepun yang harga sekilogram dagingnya di pasaran boleh mencecah sehingga RM500.

"Penternak-penternak lembu Wagyu akan dipilih berikutan kos penternakan yang tinggi," katanya.


Import baka lembu Jepun

Utusan Malaysia, 30 Julai 2006

MUAR 29 Julai –Malaysia akan membawa masuk baka-baka lembu berkualiti jenis ‘Miyazagi’ dari Jepun yang terbukti mampu menghasilkan kualiti daging yang baik dan mendapat pasaran yang tinggi kepada penternak di negara ini, tidak lama lagi. Menteri Pertanian dan Industri Asas Tani, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin berkata, pihaknya tertarik dengan kualiti daging yang dihasilkan daripada baka lembu jenis itu semasa lawatan kerja beliau ke Kobe, Jepun baru-baru ini. Menurut beliau, ternakan lembu Miyazagi yang menghasilkan daging yang berkualiti tinggi di Jepun turut diguna pakai oleh penternak Australia yang mengimport baka tersebut dan menghasilkan daging ‘Wagyu’. ‘‘Kerajaan akan membentuk satu projek perintis bagi membawa masuk baka lembu dari Jepun ini ke Malaysia dan kaedah ini telah dipelopori di Australia dan didapati telah berjaya. ‘‘Buat masa ini, Jepun dilihat seperti tidak berminat untuk mengeksport keluar baka lembu itu bagi memulihara baka itu, dan jika tidak berjaya mendapatkannya dar iJepun, kita mungkin akan berunding degan Australia,” katanya. Beliau ditemui selepas merasmikan Program Veteran Merdeka Parlimen Pagoh anjuran Jabatan Hal Ehwal Khas (Jasa) negeri Johor dan Pergerakan UMNO Bahagian Pagohdi Dewan Seri Pekembar Pagoh, dekat sini semalam. Muhyiddin yang juga Ahli Parlimen Pagoh ditanya mengenai hasil lawatan kerja beliau dan kakitangan kementeriannya ke Jepun dan Korea Selatan mulai 12 hingga 22 Julai lalu. Menurutnya, usaha membawa masuk baka lembu itu dilihat selari dengan matlamat kerajaan untuk meningkatkan hasil daging negara kepada 40 peratus dalam tempoh lima tahun akan datang. Selain itu, katanya, kerajaan juga akan membangunkan sebuah tapak di Negeri Sembilan yang diisytiharkan sebagai Lembah Daging untuk ternakan lembu feedlot dan mewujudkan sejumlah 300 usahawan penternak baru diseluruh negara dengan bantuan modal sebanyak RM80 juta. Katanya, peruntukan itu akan digunakan bagi membiayai proses pembesaran ladang-ladang ternakan yang sedia ada di negara ini termasuk tabung makanan berjumlah RM300 juta dari Bank Pertanian Malaysia. ‘‘Separuh daripada teknologi penternakan yang terdapat di Jepun boleh dilaksanakan di Malaysia namun ia memerlukan sedikit pengubah suaian termasuk kajian dan penyelidikan berkaitan iklim, cuaca dan jenis makanan untuk meningkatkan sektor ternakan negara. ‘‘Dalam bidang pertanian lain, Jepun dilihat lebih maju kerana mereka menyediakan fokus yang terperinci untuk setiap sektor pertanian. Untuk itu, kita akan mengadakan lebih banyak hubungan kerja dengan negara tersebut bagi bertukar-tukar pengalaman dan kepakaran,” jelas beliau. Sementara itu, Muhyiddin memberitahu, pihaknya tertarik dengan konsep penjualan produk-produk pertanian secara koperasi yang dilaksanakan di Korea Selatan. Kata beliau, konsep pasar tani secara koperasi atau ‘Hanaro’ itu membolehkan pengguna yang menjadi ahli kelab tersebut mendapatkan segala produk tani dengan harga yang lebih murah dan terus daripada petani. Katanya lagi, melalui konsep jualan itu, petani boleh terus memasarkan produk pertanian sama ada di pasar raya utama dan pengguna yang menjadi ahli boleh membeli segala produk itu dengan harga berpatutan. ‘‘Ia hampir menyamai konsep pasar tani yang terdapat di negara kita tetapi lebih berkesan termasuk mementingkan aspek pemasaran dan teknik pembungkusan setiap produk,” katanya.

1 comment:

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