Wagyu and the American beef industry

Benefits; health benefits are seen in these two EFAs, which are divided into two types – linoleic acid (omega 6) and linolenic acid (omega 3). These are needed to assist in immune resistance, vision, building cell membranes, blood clotting and blood pressure. Areas of benefit include protection against heart disease, arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s, high-blood pressure, and anti carcinogenic properties.

Wagyu breed is the undisputed breed leader for beef tenderness, and carcass quality with high premiums paid for the highest grades of marbling. The breed also has unique lipid characteristics that are sought after by beef connoisseurs worldwide.

Exquisite marbling – fine ribbons of monounsaturated fat (the good ones) intertwine the muscles (the higher the amount of marbling, the higher the grade of meat). Wagyu females are lighter muscled and their marbling is much finer and more evenly dispersed throughout the muscle

Wagyu cattle offer:

  • Calving ease
  • Generous ribeye size
  • Finer meat texture
  • No excessive back fat
  • Wagyu are very fertile: bulls have a high servicing capacity at a young age, and heifers reach sexual maturity at a young age
  • Wagyu cattle have docile temperaments and are easy to handle and move
  • The breed is hardy and adaptive to different environments.

Beef Grading Scales
The beef grading scale used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture refers to the amount of fat in the beef, though the USDA describes it as “tenderness, juiciness, and flavor.” Marbling refers to the level of fat distributed throughout the “lean,” or edible meat portion of the beef.

Wagyu beef’s quality is so high that it does not fit on the U.S. chart. The Japanese beef grading scale has a range of 1-12, with twelve being the best meat possible. A score of 12 is extremely rare; a good cut of Wagyu beef usually ranks around 10. The chart below compares the USDA scale to the

USDA Grade Description Japanese Score
Prime Top quality beef, with a high degree of marbling (almost 25% fat); usually sold to restaurants and commercial kitchens rather than consumers. 5 – 6
Choice High quality, with a good degree of marbling (about 20% fat); usually the top grade sold in supermarkets. 2 – 4
Select Leaner meat because of less marbling(about 17% fat). Sold in supermarkets. 1 – 2

Grading Results
According to anecdotal evidence, approximately 90 percent of F1 production will grade 5, 6 or 7. In other words, 90 percent of the F1’s – if fed for 400-450 days – will grade Prime or High Prime. Of course, the final results are highly dependent on variables such as feeding and breeding and no published numbers are available to prove these beliefs. It is possible for 95 percent of Fullblood Wagyu – if fed for 400-450 days – to grade 7, 8, 9, or 10 on the Japanese grading chart. On occasion, Fullblood carcasses will grade 11 or 12. These numbers are off the American grading chart!