Wagyu translates to "Japanese Cow" and refers to several different breeds of cattle. There are four breeds of Wagyu in Japan:
- Japanese Black (Kuroge)
- Japanese Shorthorn
- Japanese Polled
- Japanese Brown
Of the 4 unique breeds in Japan, the Japanese Black—also known as "Kuroge"—is by far the most popular. This breed is raised by many of the top Wagyu farms in the world.
Wagyu is a luxury item, and the cattle are treated as such. From the time of birth, records of the mother, father, grandparents, and so forth, are recorded. This allows tracking of the long lineage and ensures absolute transparency. A nose print is then taken of the cattle which acts like a finger print. DNA samples can also be tested to determine a cattle's lineage.
All Wagyu is graded and provided with a unique Cattle ID number. This 10-digit ID number is unique to the cattle so that anyone can trace its history. Anyone may research details about its date of birth, gender, lineage, breed, farm, etc. As with any luxury item, this attention to detail is key to ensuring authenticity. Cattle ID numbers apply to all Japanese Beef, and can be verified on the National Livestock Breeding Center website.
Wagyu cattle are raised with special care and husbandry for more than 30 months. From the time they are born, they are cared for by ranchers who have dedicated their lives to raising the extraordinary cattle. They take great pride in raising them—another reason why Wagyu is so prized for its quality. Wagyu cattle are fed for over 600 days on a special diet including wheat, rice, corn, barley and other wholesome foods. Their diet promotes "shimofuri," which is the high quality fat content we refer to as marbling.
Miyazaki vs. Kobe
Wagyu (often referred to as Kobe beef) is an umbrella term that technically encompasses many different brands from Miyazaki, Hyogo, and other Japanese prefectures. All Miyazakigyu is Wagyu but not all Wagyu is Miyazakigyu. Miyazakigyu is one step above Miyazaki Wagyu and is the cream of the crop of all Wagyu from Miyazaki. It is quite literally the best beef in the world.
Kobe beef is branded Wagyu which must be raised and processed in Hyogo Prefecture. It must also be clearly marked with a Japanese Chrysanthemum on the meat as part of their security system, and must meet a variety of other criteria before it can be sold under the brand name.
On the other-hand, Miyazakigyu is Wagyu which must be raised and processed in Miyazaki prefecture. It must also be graded A4 BMS 7 and above to meet the Miyazakigyu qualifications—otherwise, it is sold as Miyazaki Kensan Gyu or Miyazaki Wagyu.
Miyazakigyu has won successive 1st Place awards in the 9th and 10th Japanese National Competitive Exhibition of Wagyu. This is why when you buy Miyazakigyu, you know you are getting the best Wagyu from Japan.