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Earl Stonham Farms

the premier producer of beef that is maize-fed for unparalleled quality

The name Wagyu translate from the ancient Japanese as ‘Wa’ Japanese and ‘gyu’ cattle. The ancestors of the modern day Wagyu cattle can be traced back as far as the 2nd Century in Japan.

The cattle were imported from the Korean Peninsula as a beast of burden to cultivate the paddy fields. However, the religious beliefs of the Buddhists at the time prohibited the natives from consuming the meat.

It was a General in the Japanese Army in the 19th century that first exposed the population to the Wagyu realising that the inclusion of the beef in the diet made his soldiers stronger and it was these victorious men that returned to their native villages bringing back with them their taste for the Wagyu.

It was not until 1868 when the influences of the western world spread to Japan and the Emperor ‘Meij the Great’ removed the ban on eating all hoofed animals. It was then that the natural beauty of the meat could be freely enjoyed. ‘Meij the Great’ later opened up the country to breeding stock from around the world to improve the strength, stamina and meat quality of the Wagyu.

In 1919 the Japanese closed the import of foreign breeds such as the Brown Swiss, Shorthorn, Devon, Simmental, Aryshire, Korean, Holstein and Angus; which helped form the foundation of the modern day Wagyu. In 1948 the Wagyu Association was established and the following four strains of Wagyu were later recognised and closed to cross breeding from other non indigenous breeds:

  • Black Wagyu (Kuroge Wagyu)
  • Red Wagyu (Akage Wagyu)
  • Short Horn Wagyu (Tankaku Wagyu)
  • Polled Wagyu (Mukaku Wagyu)

The Black Wagyu is the most prevalent due to its high level of marbling in the meat. The Black Tajima-Ushi is the only breed used as the source of Kobe Beef.