Wagyu cattle originated in Japan. The name means ‘Wa’ for Japanese and ‘gyu’ cow. The breed has gained international popularity due to their ability to produce high quality marbled beef. Two main types may be distinguished. The Japanese Black Wagyu is a smaller type, has a black coat and larger forequarters compared to traditional beef cattle. It is popular for its intermuscular marbling. The Akaushi on the other hand has a larger frame than the Japanese Black and has a brown coat.
The marbling content of beef provides the excellent features of juiciness, tenderness and taste for which Wagyu has become famous. Grading of the beef is presented as Marble Score (MS) and is objectively measured by a specially designed carcass camera. The MS considers the quantity, distribution and texture of the intramuscular fat and is measured on the ribeye. A higher MS is associated with premium prices.
Wagyu beef averages between MS 4 to 6 which is very rare in other cattle breeds. Depending on genetics, nutrition and age at time of slaughter, scores up to MS 11-12 can be achieved. Above MS 9, the beef will be rare and extremely expensive.