FAQ’s | Sumo Cattle Co.
Market leaders in fullblood wagyu genetics


What are Wagyu?

Wagyu are the prized cattle from Japan, producing highly marbled and incredibly tender and juicy beef. Wagyu are considered to be one of the treasures of Japan.

What is marbling?

Marbling is the intramuscular fat found within the muscle. The amount of marbling is scored with 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest (12 is highest in Japan). The higher the Marble Score the more valuable the carcass.

What is Kobe beef?

Kobe is a region in Japan renowned for outstanding Wagyu carcases. As the Kobe region is so famous for producing the best Wagyu in Japan, the name is sometimes broadly used to categorize Wagyu beef in general.  A similar principle is used with the drink Champagne. The region in France famous for producing the best sparkling wine is named Champagne. Therefore this name is broadly used to categorize sparkling wine even though it may not have been produced in this exact region.

What colour are Wagyu?

Black Wagyu make up 90% of the fullblood Wagyu herd in Japan.

Red Wagyu make up 10% of the fullblood Wagyu herd in Japan.

Why breed Wagyu?

Wagyu are considered to be the carcase champions of the world. One cross over any breed of cattle (F1) will dramatically improve the quality of the F1 carcase both in meat superiority and financial return.

Wagyu also have other positive characteristics:

  • Quiet temperament.
  • Low birth weights to dramatically reduce calving problems particularly in heifers
  • Versatile adaptations to most environments.
  • Amazing ability to survive harsh environments and still reproduce.

The majority of Wagyu cattle bred in Australia are F1 (50% wagyu genetics). Many F1 cattle have Brahman genetics (North Qld and Northern Territory), however the Angus cross is preferred by feedlots and processors.

A B3 carcase is the minimum requirement (marble score 3 or 4) for profitability (F1 cattle).

However if a B4 carcase (marble score 5, 6 or 7) can be produced by using superior male genetics, the supply chain (producer, feedlotter and meat processor) will be well rewarded.

This can be achieved by using bulls with high Fullblood Terminal indices.

Similarly with fullblood wagyu, increased carcase quality will dramatically improve returns.

Should we breed Fullblood or Crossbred Wagyu?

The majority of Wagyu markets worldwide are crossbred Wagyu (particularly F1). Crossbreeding is an easier option for existing cattle owners, as they only need a Fullblood Wagyu bull to cross over their herd or Fullblood semen for insemination of their cows.

F1 (50% Wagyu) Wagyu steers are currently selling for between $6 and $7.50 per kg live weight. Other breeds sell for between $3 and $4.50 per kg live weight.

Breeding fullblood Wagyu is obviously more specialized as all offspring must be DNA and parent verified before the Australian Wagyu Association registers them. Fullblood seedstock are valued very highly according to their genetic makeup and fullblood terminal index.

Strains of Wagyu

Tajima strain

  • Highly marbled
  • Smaller carcase
  • Less milk in females

Shimane strain

  • Larger carcase
  • Excellent marbling
  • Good milking in females

Tottori strain

  • Larger carcase
  • Good marbling
  • Excellent milk production

Kummamoto Reds

  • Very similar to traditional western cattle in frame and appearance
  • Excellent milk production
  • Generally less marbling than black strains

What is the market for Wagyu?

International markets for Wagyu beef are growing dramatically with the following countries being target markets:

– Japan
– China
– Other South East Asian Countries
– Europe and Britain
– Canada
– New Zealand

The Australian market for Wagyu beef is also rapidly expanding.

What does Fullblood Terminal Index mean? (FTI)

There is currently one standard selection index calculated for Australian Wagyu animals. This is the Fullblood Terminal Index (FTI).

The Fullblood Terminal Index utilises the Carcase Weight EBV and the Marble Score EBV because these are the traits which determine the price of Wagyu carcases.

(i) Marble Score of an average fullblood carcase is 7
(ii) The average Carcase Weight of a fullblood is 415kg
(iii) The average Fullblood Terminal Index is $120.00

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