Japanese Black

These entirely black cattle are the most popular breed of Wagyu. They are raised throughout Japan, accounting for over 90% of the country’s cattle. Japanese Black have the strongest genetic predisposition to the quality Wagyu is renowned for – intense marbling. Within the Japanese Black Strain, there are different bloodlines, each with their own specific traits. The three primary bloodlines include:

Tajima – also referred to as Tajiri

Tajima are the marbling Wagyu. Even within the Japanese Black breed, this specific bloodline is the one known best to produce the highest percentage and best quality marbling. They are generally smaller framed, have slower growth rates, and expected to yield superior meat.

Shimane – also referred to as Fujiyoshi

Originating from the Shimane Prefecture of Japan, these cattle are known for large frames, medium growth, very strong maternal capabilities, and average meat quality. Their offspring tend to exhibit a large body size, however their marbling is generally less refined than Tajima.

Kedaka – also referred to as Tottori

The Kedaka line originates from the Tottori Prefecture of Japan and, similar to Shimane, are known for their larger frames but with a higher meat quality. They also tend to have a good growth rate and high levels of fertility.

 


 

These Japanese Black bloodlines can be crossbred to impart diversity into herds. For example, breeding Tajima (or high Tajima bulls) with Kedaka or Shimane cows, has the potential to produce offspring that have the dense, delicate marbling of a Tajima with the larger size, faster growth rates, and stronger maternal instincts of a Kedaka or Shimane. In fact, Kedaka are often considered to play a critical role in Japanese Fullblood Wagyu production.

Crossbreeding Tajima from the Hyogo Prefecture with other Japanese Black bloodlines is still avoided by some, however, if efforts to maintain the purity of bloodlines. An example of this is with Kobe beef, which must be pure Tajima.

Japanese Brown

Japanese Brown are the other main breed of Wagyu, and the only other besides Japanese Black that is found outside of Japan. The Japanese word, Akaushi, translated as Red Cow or Cattle. In the United States this breed is more commonly referred to as Japanese Red. Japanese Brown are primarily raised in the Kumamoto and Kochi Prefectures of Japan. While not as famed for their marbling genes as Japanese Blacks, this breed of Wagyu still produces a significantly higher marbling content than most conventional American cattle. Japanese Brown are raised here in the United States.

Japanese Shorthorn

This rare breed of Wagyu makes up less than 1% of all cattle in Japan and found only in Japan. They have a reddish brown coat and, per their name, small horns. Unlike Japanese Black, who are known for their rich marbling, Japanese Shorthorns have a high lean meat content with a savory flavor.

Japanese Polled

Similar to Japanese Shorthorn, Japanese Polled are found only in Japan and in small populations. There are estimated to be under 1,000 of this breed of Wagyu today. Like Shorthorns, they are characterized by a lean meat content that is quite flavorful.