BREEDER’S GUIDE

 

Answer Key

  • Bar N Ranch/Celina Cattle Company

  • Myer-Cooper Cattle and 33 Ventures LLC.

  • Buck Mountain Ranch

  • Yamamoto Genetics

  • Imperial Wagyu Beef, LLC.

  • Lucky 7 Ranch

 

1.  What is the name of your Ranch?

 

  • A Bar N Ranch/Celina Cattle Company

  • Myer-Cooper Cattle and 33 Ventures, LLC.

  • Buck Mountain Ranch

  • Yamamoto Genetics

  • Imperial Wagyu Beef, LLC.

  • Lucky 7 Ranch

2.  What is your name?

  • Cade D. Nichols

  • Aaron Cooper, Ph.D.

  • Mike Kerby

  • Tim Conrad

  • Jeremy Tibben, VP of Cattle Production

  • Ralph Lee

3.  Tell us the number of years you have been in the Wagyu Business.

  • We have been in the Wagyu Business for about 10 years

  • 2 years at Heartland Beef, 2 years as breeder/consultant/researcher

  • 8 years

  • 24 years

  • Myself 1 ½ years, IWB 13 years

  • Ten years

 

4.  Do you primarily raise Full Bloods, Percentage cattle, Reds, Blacks?

 

  • Full Bloods, Percentage Cattle, Blacks

  • Full Bloods, Reds FB Akaushi seed stock and exporting genetics

  • Full Bloods, Reds and Black

  • Full Blood

  • We buy Full Bloods, Percentage cattle, and blacks

  • I raise full bloods both red and black with black being the most.

 

5.  What is your main business, seed stock or meat?

 

  • A Bar N’s main business is F1 beef production

  • Seed stock

  • Seedstock Genetics

  • Seed Stock

  • Meat

  • My main business is selling cattle which are market read (fats) with seed stock being second.

 

6.  Who is your favorite sire for producing bulls and why?

 

  • My favorite sires for F1 production has been Michifuku or Yasufuku Jr. because they seem to produce the most marbling and limit back fat while keeping a consistent rib eye area.

  • Ashwood FX0014 is the highest marbling Akaushi sire that I am aware of. Our goal as Akaushi producers is to produce bulls that maintain calving ease and sufficient growth while injecting high levels of marbling at less than 2 years of age. FX0014 is the most consistent in terms of exceptional marbling and more than likely this is due to the influence of his granddam, Namiko. FX0014 semen is scarcely rare but he would be my go-to sire for producing FB or percentage Akaushi bulls otherwise.

  • 01 Hifashigetayasu – I have used his sons over most of my best cows. He brings size and still through marbling in his calves. His sons have above average size rib eyes and IMF scores at 400 day ultra sound scans.

  • Itomich ½ TF36 – He has best conformation in my opinion of the Wagyu. Milking and Marbling Kikuhana TF37 – Good conformation and bigger birth weights.

  • FB2422 World K’s Kitaguni Jr.He has produced some extremely good carcass bulls. LMF Koichi 1409Y, LMR Kitaguni 1441Y, LMR Misurur 2450z, LMR Daisuke 2470Z to name a few. The Kitaguni Jr. sons are consistently high in IMF%, marble fineness, and USDA grading. They are bulls Imperial Wagyu Beef has used to produce high quality F1's. You can see the performance is backed up by Lone Mountain Cattle Company’s 2017 Sire study.

  • My favorite sire is Shigeshigetani because I believe he is the best bull for attaining the grades which we are all looking for when we kill fat cattle. There are also many which I believe come in a close second.

 

7.  Who is your favorite sire for producing heifers and why?

 

  • My favorite sire for producing full blood heifers is definitely Hirashigetayasu. Phenotypically he is outstanding and adds a lot of frame, good leg confirmation and milk while not taking away from the animal’s ability to produce marbling and pass it on.

  • Close race here. 1) Most sons or grandsons of Kaedemaru or Kaedemaru 2) These two females’ sons consistently raise good producing, adaptable, long lasting, high marbling offspring. The proof is in the pudding. 3) HeartBrand Shigemaru (JPN IMP) raises moderate framed, easy keeping cows that reliable perform with maternal power. The fact the Shigemaru is an F11 carrier has hurt his usage and influence over the past couple of years. It’s time as an Akaushi industry to move past the F11 nonsense.

  • Itomichi 4632 makes very consistent heifers. 400 day weights are above average and rib eyes are 10 inch with 7.0 or higher IMF scans at 400 days. His heifers weigh in at around 700 pounds at this age. He’s hard to beat.

  • Michifuku – The conformation in the Michifuku heifers are good size and milking. Great mothers.

  • Word K’s Michifuku, he produces sold female offspring with a verifiable solid carcass data history.

  • My favorite bull for making the best females would have to go to Kikuyasu-400. This is because of the milking advantage that this adds.

 

8.  At what age do you wean your calves?

 

  • We let the look of our pasture and cows tell us when to wean. Typically, we will wean between 5 and 8 months of age depending on the factors stated above.

  • 6 to 8 months of age depending on forage availability.

  • 6-7 months – We free choice creep feed our calves and do fine at this age with little stress or slowdown of growth.

  • 6 months

  • 8 to 10 months

  • I wean my calves at 10 months of age.

 

9.  At what age do you start feeding your calves?

 

  • Our F1 calves start getting creep feed about a month before we wean. The full blood calves get started on creep at about 2 months of age.

  • Currently, breeders and feeders will begin development on full feed at ~1 years of age. This is subject to change as we grow.

  • Our calves have access to free choice creep from birth. It is expensive but with the creep they don’t seem to pull their mothers down as they get bigger and I believe it allows the calves to fully express their genetics.

  • Creep feed most of their life or until 2 years.

  • Creep feeding a TMR is recommended in the pasture, and then introduce them to bunks at weaning.

  • My calves are pasture raised and they learn to eat fee when their mothers are fed and when we wean they are put on a limited feed program.

 

10.  How long do you feed calves and what age do you process?

 

  • For our F1 calves we shoot to feed them until they are about 24 months of age. We have seen a point of diminishing returns after that age. We are constantly collecting data trying to reduce feed time. As for the full bloods, we typically feed them from 28-32 months of age.

  • FB Akaushi are harvested at 22-24 months of age. F1 Akaushi are harvested at either 18-20 or 24 months of age depending on marketing program and marbling goals.

  • We are mainly a full blood producer and we feed to about 32 months. I have tried longer without much better results.

  • 14 to 30 months- kill at 30 months.

  • A minimum of 400 days with a projected harvest age of 26 months.

  • I take my calves on to the feedlot and sale at 28 months of age ideally.

 

11.  Any tips for marketing Wagyu?

 

  • This breed is very unique and at the time very small. I believe educating people in your area and building relationships is the best way to start. This is not a get rich quick scheme. It takes a lot of work and hustle. You can’t just carry these cattle down to the local sale barn at weaning and/or yearling. Do your research, make a plan and work hard to achieve that plan all while not being afraid to make adjustments.

  • Don’t rely on others to come to you. Have a written, directional plan and many checkpoints to assess your program. Present your vision to a few top industry professionals and consider their thoughts. More than likely, they’ve crossed those same bridges and/or currently observing others that are. Also, most pictures of Wagyu cattle in breeders’ marketing material are poor.

  • Data, data, data – With the new car program we can start collecting more data. We test for all important weights. Exon Gene, Fat tenderness, IMF and rib eye scores. I think a lot of cattle can still be sold from pedigree and little data. The more data I can show a buyer, the easier it is to keep repeat clients. This breed is changing fast. I believe if you don’t have good records, you will be left behind. Also, stand behind your product.  If something goes wrong make it right. You will keep a good name and happy buyers.

  • A good reputation.

  • Main advice for F1 calves, know your market and raise your animals according to what the customer is requesting.

  • Have a business plan before you start. What is your intent and how do you plan to market. Keep an open mind and be willing to change.

 

12.  Any tips for raising Wagyu?

 

  • Wagyu are unlike any other breed of cattle I have ever personally worked with, but do not forget they are a cow. There are two types of cows in the world; the type that make money and the type that lose money. Don’t be afraid to let these cows go out and make a living, you do not have to babysit them.

  • Proper management (e.g., dehorning, nutritional considerations, etc.) goes a long way in total production and subsequent marketing. Phenotypic selection should be used in some regard as a herd improvement tool rather than totally ignoring it. There are many that can help in this area…every breeder needs some level of culling.

  • We let our heifers reach 2 years old before breeding. I believe they milk better and have very little issues with our calves. We use high quality free choice mineral and feed. We use long range for fly control. This is a big help in fly season.  It keeps the cows up and feeding.

  • Good Animal Husbandry.

  • Humane handling and low-stress methods are essential. Also, speak with a veterinarian and a nutritionist to ensure the animals remain healthy and sustain an acceptable body condition score.

  • One of the best Wagyu advantage of the breed is that they are sexually mature at an early age. Also, one of the worst things about Wagyu is that they are sexually mature early. Be prepared to handle this.

13.  What data do you use on your farm and how does this data help?

 

  • We collect as much data as possible. Anything from birth weights, weaning weights, yearling weights which help us evaluate our bulls and how our females perform. We also collect hot weights, fat thickness, rib eye size and marbling score from around 35-70 head a month. We use this data to track our herd bulls and make any breeding adjustments needed.

  • Actual growth data at various ages and Akaushi line tendencies in regards to carcass merit. As well, a long list of other indicator traits that impact total productivity, stay ability and maternal performance.

  • We test our cattle for fat tenderness. Exon birth weights. 200-400 mature weights. Also, IMF and rib eyes at 400 days. We also test all animals for Johnes-BVD-Neospora.

  • We use Action Sheet and Cattle Max to be able to go back and see matings that work.

  • We record as much data as possible. It provides us with the knowledge to adjust our program for future planning and success.

  • We have a lot of data since we feed cattle. It directs our whole program. We are still making a lot of test on our own. Most things work, but we are looking for the one or two things which will work the best and put the most money back to us. We have tried some unusual things and will continue to do this. Some of these are just to find out if what we heard is true.

 

14.  Do you have a web page?  What is your web page address?

 

 

15.  Tell us one piece of advice you have for anyone in this business?

 

  • My advice would be to talk to as many people in this business as possible to determine the best course of action for you in this business.

  • I see too many breeders invest time and resources into their programs and then retrospectively regret certain decisions (to the tune of $50k+). The consensus feedback is they should have visited with a consultant to avoid the costly errors/genetics. Additionally, improvement in other areas with the professional assistance could have realized at an overall lower cost. I work with a couple of breeders that view consulting as an insurance policy in a way.

  • Stand behind your business. Bad news travels fast. It’s harder to get a new buyer then it is to keep an existing one. Study your data. Make smart breeding decision the day of selling from pedigree. It’s coming to an end, data will be your best marketing.

  • You cannot just breed for marbling. You have to breed for conformation also. If we want the commercial cow breeders to join in we have to have animals that look good and marble good.

  • Go out and talk to producers, seed stock companies, and beef companies to familiarize yourself with all aspects prior to purchasing Wagyu cattle. Make a good plan and establish relationships in the segment you plan to get into.

  • Have a business plan.

 

16.  Please tell us what you feel is the future of the Wagyu breed?

 

  • We are in the cattle business! Albeit a very small piece of the pie, the Wagyu market share is growing. We do not need to create a new mouse trap; the plan has already been laid out for us. 97% of the cattle business is made up of commercial cattlemen, we need to educate these people on what our bulls can do for them and aggressively market to them. “Cab” is already inching into the prime market and they are using our bulls to do it. If we as breeders can collect data and work together to prove that our bulls will produce prime beef within a reasonable time frame of 18-20 months then the possibilities are endless. The full blood beef business has its place, but in my opinion, we currently do not have enough full blood animals to “feed the masses” and by masses I mean a couple of restaurants in every major city in America. Did you know it takes about 200 head of cattle per restaurant to keep up with the demand? We can distribute around our local communities and find our own niche, but until we prove the bulls to the commercial breeders, we will never have enough market shares. Once the bulls are proved and selling, that will bring in more registered breeders, thus more full blood Wagyu and more full blood beef to distribute to the masses.

  • Currently in the U.S., I see programs either without direction or on a very good path. Those with a plan and direction firmly in place will grow and outlast those that do not. The demand for our product is very high globally and most just need a proper production plan. I feel the elite breeders will increase efforts in progeny testing for carcass results and improve marketing on all levels.

  • We are still in the beginning with data. I think we will open up our bull market to commercial breeders and as far as the meat side of our breed, the best steak in the world will always have a good market.

  • The future of the Wagyu has the ability to go far, and be one of the best cow breeds going. We as Wagyu producers have to be honest with people and represent the breed with all we got. If we can’t do that, then people are not going to deal with the breed.

  • Go out and talk to producers, seed stock companies, and beef companies to familiarize yourself with all aspects prior to purchasing Wagyu cattle. Make a good plan and establish relationships in the segment you plan to get into.

  • I feel that we will see Wagyu continue to grow as we as producers improve the image and make them more acceptable to the American cattle producer. While we are doing this we do not need to forget what the advantages we have at this time. I believe that in 20 years, 40% of the cattle in the U.S. will have some Wagyu influence. This is good for the meat we eat and raise the image of a good steak but will not necessarily be good for Wagyu producers because we will see lower prices for our product.