- The Wagyu Cattle Breed
The Wagyu Cattle Breed
Wagyu is the beef cattle breed well known for making the best beef quality of any breed in the world. Wagyu cattle are meaningfully different than other cattle breeds. They are predisposed to produce outstanding marbling, and the beef from Wagyu cattle is extremely tender.
Wagyu cattle originated in Japan. While technically a "Bos Taurus" cattle breed, they are substantially different than most other Bos Taurus battle breeds. The Wagyu breed originated approximately 35,000 years ago in Southeast Asia, and were introduced to Japan between 500BC and 300BC where they were used as work animals. During an approximate 40-year period staring in 1868 the Japanese government led a breeding selection program designed to improve the quality of beef from Wagyu cattle. There are three major sub-breeds, or "strains" of Wagyu cattle, three of which are black color and one of which is red color.
Four Wagyu bulls were exported from Japan to the United States in 1976 and these bulls formed the basis of all Wagyu cattle bred outside Japan until the early 1990s, when more Wagyu were exported from Japan to the United States. After only 221 Wagyu animals were exported from Japan the Japanese government declared their Wagyu cattle a "National Treasure" and banned all further exports of live animals and genetics. Therefore, to this day, all registered fullblood Wagyu cattle outside Japan are descended from those 221 animals that were exported.