wagyu beef origins
The Wagyu beef breed has its origins in Japan from where it has spread throughout Australasia, America and Europe. The story of Wagyu is a fascinating one as it was confined to Japan until the 1970s since it was regarded as a ‘national treasure’ and vehemently protected against export by the Japanese Government. The first bloodlines came out of Japan to America in the 1970s with Australia following in the 1990s, both quickly expanding and becoming influential in their respective beef industries.
Originally used as draft animals, Wagyu cattle were selected for their physical endurance which favoured animals with more intra-muscular fat cells, or ‘marbling’, which provided a readily available source of energy. Wagyu is a naturally horned breed with either a red or black coat colour. The name ‘Wagyu’ refers to all Japanese beef cattle, where ‘Wa’ means Japanese and ‘gyu’ means cow.
According to figures released by the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS), which records the numbers of animal ‘passport’ applications, 2691 Wagyu-sired calves were born in the UK 2013.