Looking for a new type of beef to raise? Consider Wagyu

Alice Mannette
The Hutchinson News

Ranchers nationwide are looking into raising Wagyu. Membership in the American Wagyu Association has increased by 33% over the same time last year, with more than 900 members nationwide.

"We've experienced record growth this year," said Robert Williams, Ph.D., the executive director of AWA. "It's really exciting for the growth of the beef. The demand for Wagyu beef is really good - perhaps at an all-time high."

As Wagyu beef becomes more of a household name and increases in popularity, the association wants to teach people how to raise the cattle as well as how to maintain the pedigree. 

This year, the Midwest Wagyu Association is hosting a meeting and sale on June 4 and 5 in Salina. On Friday, four speakers will speak about animal health, feeding, genetics, imaging and nutrition. Kansas' own Blue Stem Embryo will be one of the presenters. 

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Wagyu cattle graze at Wiens Wagyu in Meade.

Dinner, which costs $20, will feature Wagyu brisket. There is also a silent auction, where all the proceeds go to the Tunnels to Towers Foundation

"We will help our fallen first responders and military," said Mike Kerby, the events coordinator. 

Friday's event takes place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Salina. On Saturday, more than 90 animals will be for sale at Passion For Prime from 1 to 5 p.m. at Farmers & Ranchers Livestock

Events like this one bring in new producers each year, increasing the number of ranchers who raise this animal. Currently, less than a dozen producers in Kansas raise Wagyu. But Kerby said interest is growing. 

"This event brings in new producers each year," Kerby, who runs Buck Mountain Ranch in Warsaw, Mo., said. "It's a chance for small producers to have a hand in."

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Producers from several states, including Iowa, New Mexico and Washington, will be at the sale. There are registered Wagyu ranchers in all 50 states. 

On Aug. 21, there will be a Wagyu sale in Texas and one in Indiana on Oct. 2 and Vermont on Oct. 23. 

"They are educational," Williams said. "They are an opportunity for breeders to network and learn how to manage cattle and learn more about the breed."

Many ranchers are breeding Wagyu cattle with Angus or other breeds. This too is a growing industry. 

Wagyu are originally from Japan. Their meat is more marbled and produces a higher level of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids than most beef. 

"There are certain specifications they have to meet to claim Wagyu influence," Williams said. "It’s the highest quality product of beef in the world."