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There are quite a few myths out there, as well as mislabeling, when it comes to Wagyu beef. With that said, Double 8 Cattle is here to set the record straight!
What does Wagyu actually mean?
Wa (Japanese) + Gyu (Cattle) = Wagyu.
Wagyu were originally draft animals used in Japanese agriculture. Their physical attributes, such as their intramuscular fat (which provides an ideal energy source), made them optimal work animals. Today, these physical qualities, such as fat distribution, have translated to premium beef known for superior quality and melt-in-your-mouth flavor.
What's the difference between Fullblood, Purebred, and American Wagyu?
Only 0.029% of the total U.S. cattle count of 89.9 million qualifies as Fullblood or Purebred Wagyu.
Fullblood Wagyu: The cattle are 100% Japanese Wagyu. It means that the Wagyu have unmixed ancestry – their sire (father) is Fullblood Wagyu and their dam (mother) is Fullblood Wagyu.
Purebred Wagyu: If a cow is a Purebred Wagyu, it is 93.75% (or higher) Wagyu and the remaining percentage is another breed. For example, a Purebred Wagyu may be 94% Wagyu and 6% Angus.
"American Wagyu": This is essentially a marketing term. "American Wagyu" are cattle that are related to the Fullblood Wagyu imported from Japan in the late 20th century, but they have been mixed with other breeds, such as Angus.
Often, they are crossbred cattle, for example, 50% Wagyu and 50% Angus. Some are considered Purebred Wagyu, (as mentioned above) which means they are 15/16 Wagyu and 1/16 Angus (or another similar breed).
At Double 8 Cattle Company, we only raise Fullblood (100%) Japanese Black Wagyu. Our cattle are direct descendants of Japanese Wagyu with unmixed ancestry. They have never been crossbred with other cattle breeds, such as Angus.
Is Wagyu beef healthier than other beef?
A healthy, well-balanced diet consists of some fat, and it’s important to differentiate between “good” and “bad” fats. Beef from Wagyu cattle naturally contains more Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids than other beef. These are known to protect against heart disease, arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, and more.
Wagyu beef also contains more monounsaturated fatty acids ("good" fat) than any other beef. Monounsaturated fats are a healthy alternative to the trans fats and refined polyunsaturated fats you find in most processed foods. Studies have shown that higher monounsaturated fatty acid in the diet is associated with a lower risk of developing cardio vascular disease.
In addition, Wagyu beef has more protein than most fish. The protein in Wagyu beef helps to maintain muscle while burning fat as it increases oxygen intake, energy production, and metabolic rate. When it comes to premium beef, Fullblood Wagyu beef is a healthy choice!
Are there different breeds/types of Wagyu?
There are four breeds of Wagyu: Japanese Black (Kuroge Washu), Japanese Brown (Akage Washu), Japanese Polled (Mukaku Washu), and Japanese Shorthorn (Nihon Tankaku Washu).
Japanese Black and Japanese Brown are the only two available outside of Japan.
There are three strains of Japanese Black: Tajiri or Tajima, Fujiyoshi (Shimane), and Kedaka (Tottori). At Double 8 Cattle Company, our entire herd is Japanese Black Wagyu. The strain we raise is primarily Tajima.
Is all Wagyu beef also Kobe beef?
All Kobe Beef Is Wagyu, But Not All Wagyu Beef Is Kobe.
Wagyu is a breed of cattle. Kobe is Fullblood Wagyu (pure Tajima-gyu lineage) that is raised and harvested in Kobe, the capital of Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture.
While our Wagyu are not Kobe, because they are raised in the U.S. and not Japan, they are 100% Fullblood Japanese Black Wagyu. They have never been crossbred and maintain pure Fullblood Wagyu genetics.
Often, restaurants will have a “Kobe” burger or an “American Kobe” steak on the menu. Most of the time, unless the beef was imported from Japan, these are cases of intentional or unintentional mislabeling.
The “Kobe” beef is not authentic Kobe beef for the following reasons: 1) The Wagyu was raised in America and not in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, and 2) The beef is from a crossbreed, for example Wagyu mixed with Angus.
According to recent data, less than 10 restaurants in the U.S. serve authentic Kobe beef, which is directly imported from Kobe, Japan.
What is marbling?
Marbling is the visible form of intramuscular fat which appears as striking white/cream flecks within the red muscle. Extensive marbling gives Wagyu beef a spectacular tenderness, juiciness, and flavor.
Some say, there is too much fat and not enough beef. But, the naysayers are underestimating the fat/marbling in Wagyu and, in our educated opinion, dismissing one of the “superhero” attributes of Wagyu beef. The fat/marbling in Wagyu is what translates into the amazing, next-level flavor and melt-in-your-mouth quality Wagyu consumers boast about.
In addition, the fat in Wagyu is unique. It’s a soft fat with a low melting point, which is partly due to its high proportion of monounsaturated fats. The low melting point allows the fat to break down at a lower temperature than other beef. This means that the Wagyu beef at the end of your fork is extremely tender, juicy, and pleasing to the most discerning palate.
Do you massage your Wagyu or give them beer?
We do not massage our cattle or give them beer/sake.
Our Fullblood Wagyu are on a diet which is based on the research and recommendations of experts in Wagyu nutrition. In addition, our Wagyu are pasture-raised with plenty of land to roam freely on.
Occasionally, farmers in Japan will give their Wagyu beer when it’s hot and humid outside. They do so in an attempt to stimulate their appetite and get cattle back on feed. In Japan, some farmers also massage their Wagyu, because farmland is in short supply (in certain regions), and cattle are confined to small areas. Some also massage their Wagyu to help with cramping and improve the distribution and softness of the subcutaneous fat. Again, Double 8 Cattle Company does not massage our cattle or give them beer.
Your cattle are Japanese? Did you ship your cattle to the United States from Japan?
Our cattle are direct descendants of Japanese cattle with unmixed ancestry. They have never been crossbred with other cattle breeds, such as Angus.
With that said, we did not ship our cattle from Japan to our farm in Central Ohio. Between 1976 and the late 1990s, Wagyu bulls and heifers were imported from Japan. The first Wagyu exported from Japan to the U.S. were two Fullblood Japanese Black bulls and two Fullblood Japanese Red bulls. The majority of Wagyu imported were Japanese Black, which is the breed of Wagyu we raise.
In the late 1990s, after less than 200 Fullblood Wagyu were imported from Japan, the export ban was put back in place. To this day, no more Fullblood Wagyu genetics have left Japan.
However, our Wagyu are the direct descendants of the Wagyu that were imported in the late 20th century. The imported Wagyu are the Sires, Grandsires, Dams, Granddams, etc., of our herd.