Wagyu (pronounced ‘wag-you’) is a breed of cattle native and unique in their genetics to Japan. The Japanese word Wagyu can be translated to mean Japanese beef – as ‘wa’ means Japanese and ‘gyu’ means beef. These cattle are vigilantly guarded by Japanese farmers who have inherited the genetics from their ancestors and see it as their duty to protect this gift for future generations.
The world famous “Kobe” beef brand is Wagyu beef that comes from the Hyogo Prefecture in Japan. Kobe is beef produced from male cattle, while the Matsuzaka beef brand (even more exclusive) is produced from female cattle. The bloodlines used to produce this beef are called Tajima.
The three most famous breeding strains – Tajima from Hyogo Prefecture, Itozakura from Shimane Prefecture, and Kedaka from Tottori Prefecture – in Japan.
Over the years many people outside of Japan have attempted to track down the history of Wagyu cattle and document it. This has led to a Western perspective of the history of Wagyu cattle. When it has been reported in Japan that performance was being sought through genetics gain, it has been widely interpreted as being beef production, when in actual fact it was performance as a draft or pack animal.
In the mid 1980′s, Japanese Professor Kiyoshi Namikawa, a leading Wagyu expert, embarked on an ambitious plan to document the history of the Japanese Black cattle breed (Wagyu) in Japan.
Wagyu in Australia
In 1988, David Blackmore discovered two purebred Wagyu females at a research facility (Granada) affiliated with Texas A & M University in the United States. The sire lines had been exported to the USA for research into meat quality in 1976.
In 1992, during trade discussions between the Japanese government and the US government it was decided to allow the first ever, live full-blood Japanese Wagyu females to be exported out of Japan. Through his strong relationship with Japanese Wagyu breeders, David Blackmore secured the exclusivity of these genetics and imported a large number of embryos and semen into Australia for Australian clients. The largest group of cattle belonged to one of Japan’s premier breeders Mr. Shogo Takeda.
The cattle are known as Japanese Fullblood and are recognized around the world as the only cattle containing no contamination of inferior genes.
Since this time, David Blackmore has imported more than 80% of the Japanese Fullblood Wagyu genetics into Australia and has produced his own 100% Japanese Fullblood Wagyu cattle (as opposed to cattle cross bred with other Australian breeds).