What is Wagyu ?

Wagyu beef and its exceptional marbling is finding its way into gourmet cooking and fine restaurant menus across Australia and around the world.

The unique marbling in Wagyu beef creates an exceptional eating experience, that exemplifies the meaning of the world’s luxury beef. Wagyu beef has a rich, juicy, buttery, caramel taste sensation and a beefy flavour and aroma. The unique levels of oleic monosaturated fats – the healthy fats – are characteristic of Wagyu means that it dissolves at lower melting temperatures – it literally melts in your mouth and can be good for you. 

A Short Wagyu History

Wagyu is luxury beef at it’s finest. 

Wagyu originated in Japan as a draught animal, selected for their physical endurance, which in turn led to the development of fat deposition within the muscle (intramuscular fat), known as the marbling. With it’s abundant fine marbling, the fat of Wagyu is distributed evenly throughout the muscle and is comprised mostly of monounsaturated fats. Wagyu beef has a low melting point when cooked and creates a unique sweet and extra juicy flavor. 

The word Wagyu, when literally translated is ‘Wa’ for Japanese-like, ‘guy’ meaning cattle. The very first Wagyu to be exported to the US occurred in 1976, establishing the American Wagyu herd. The first purebred to arrive on Australian shores was in 1990. By 1993, the first full blood Wagyu cattle had arrived in the US – Michifuku, Haruki 2, Suzutani, Rikitani, and Okutani, giving the Australian and US Herds greater genetic diversity. 

A total of 221 full blood Wagyu cattle were exported from Japan between 1990-1997. 

What is the AWA Breedplan?

BREEDPLAN is a proven genetic evaluation system that uses pedigree, performance data and genomic information to determine a range of valuable Wagyu genetic breeding and production traits. and fully supported by the Australian Wagyu Association Board for the largest genetic evaluation of Japanese Black and Red Wagyu cattle that is publicly available worldwide.

Typically, the data collected includes:

  • Maternal traits such as milking, calving ease, birth weights
  • Growth weights at 200, 400 and 600 days
  • Carcase traits such as marble score, marble fineness, ribeye area, yield

To simplify reporting, BREEDPLAN produces Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) that indicate the strength of the animal’s genetics to gain insight into the potential of animals for different production purposes which is updated each month.

The accuracy of the EBVs is dependent on the volume of the data entered and the genomic relationship with other animals.  In essence, the more data in BREEDPLAN for an animal the better its genomic relationships can be determined, the better the EBV accuracy. In addition, BreedObject $Indexes indicate the relative profitability of a sire or dam in different production systems using input from multiple EBVs.

The AWA Board has a duty to review and continuously improve Wagyu BREEDPLAN for ongoing breed development. The EBVs and Profitability Indexes are supported by AWA as representing the best scientific knowledge available at the time of publication. This is the principle method of determining the genetic merit of Wagyu animals for a range of production and profitability traits based on pedigree, recorded data on Fullblood Wagyu and genomic information.

What is Wagyu beef marbling?

The secret to why Wagyu is the ‘world’s luxury beef’ lies in the unique Wagyu marbling.

Marbling refers to finely dispersed, visible fat found between muscle fibre bundles within the meat, that gives it extra juiciness and flavour.

Achieving marbling in Wagyu beef is determined by the genetics of the animal and the nutrition in the feeding program. For breeding, producers use the genetic evaluation tools provided by the Australian Wagyu Association to determine the animals that have a high potential for marbling.

Australian Aus-Meat grading to define marbling, range from 0 to 9+, with 0 being the lowest and 9+ being the highest and most valuable.  Australian Fullblood Wagyu typically average Aus-Meat marble score of 8, more than three-fold the average of any other breed.  Wagyu can achieve marbling well beyond 9+.