American Wagyu Beef, LLC
The now aristocratic Wagyu breed came from humble origins. Cattle were fist brought to Japan in the second century from Asian mainland via the Korean peninsula to provide power for the cultivation of rice. For over two hundred years (1635-1834) no new genetics were introduced into Japan. Buddhism and Shintoism shaped the collective thoughts and attitudes of Japan. Even though the Meiji Restoration in 1868 replaced some dietary restrictions and prohibitions against eating beef , people were slow to adapt.
Japanese soldiers were viewed as a special class of people who were not subjected to the same restrictions as civilians. So, Japanese military leaders fed their troops beef to strengthen them for battle. When the soldiers returned from duty they took with them an appetite for beef. On their farms the older generation still thought cooking meat in the home was sacrilege and a desecration of the house. So these young men would cook meat on a heated plowshares over hot coals outside, and "sukiyaki' was born. Sukiyaki literally means "plow cooking".
These animals served to pull plows and provide transportation and manure. The Wagyu’s unique marbling capability is the result of this hard work. These practices persisted until the 1950’s when the advent of trucks, tractors, and power cultivators eliminated cattle’s role as draft animals and chemical fertilizers began to substitute for barnyard manure. The Japanese breeds developed distinct characteristics in isolated pockets of “closed” populations. Four superior strains were identified and a systematic breeding program crossing these four began in 1959.
Beef consumption began to increase, and cattle came to be bred for meat use alone around 1960. The result was a clearly superior breed.
In 1976, two Black Wagyu and two Red Wagyu bulls were imported form Japan to the U.S.. At that time, nobody anticipated market liberalization and permission was granted by the Japanese government for the first Wagyu cattle were exported to the United States. There was a mix-up with the pedigrees provided for the bulls and it is uncertain which pedigree is correct for the bull. Nevertheless, one of the bulls exhibited distinct characteristics for the Tottori line while the other was probably of the Tajima line.