Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between Kobe and Wagyu?
Are “Purebreds” and “Full Bloods” the same thing?
Can I buy 100% Full Blood Wagyu genetics in the US?
Are Black Wagyu and Red Wagyu the same breed?
Do the Japanese cross breed the Black Wagyu and Red Wagyu?
What does F1 mean?
What does F2 mean?
What does F3 mean?
Are all Wagyu horned?
Do polled Wagyu exist?
What kind of climate can I raise Wagyu in?
What are average birth weights of Wagyu calves?
What are the growth rates of Wagyu like?
When can I breed a Wagyu heifer?
If I buy an embryo and have a bull calf should I keep it a bull?
How long does it take to finish a steer?
What are average daily gains of Wagyu steers on feed?
What are average finish weights?
How much do full blood steers on feed consume per day on average?
Are Wagyu steers easy to feed out?
What do you feed your steers?
How do I market full blood steers?
How do I market F1 steers?
What genetic testing is available for Wagyu cattle? (and why you should save your money)
GH Exon 5 Test
This test represents a method for evaluating Wagyu cattle for the characteristics of growth rate and marbling using genetic polymorphism of the growth hormone Exon 5. Wagyu variants of this gene are A, B & C, therefore there are six genotypes: AA, AB, AC, BB, BC & CC. Prescribe Genomics suggests the preferred genotypes for producing bulls for F1 production are BB, BC and CC.
This test is designed to assist in the selection of cattle that show a genotype that produces a superior fat composition. Stearic acid, which corresponds to the amino acid Valine (V), makes deposited fat harder. Oleic acid, which corresponds to the amino acid Alanine (A), makes deposited fat softer, which Prescribed Genomics states is more palatable to the Japanese market. There are three possible genotypes for SCD, these are AA, VA and VV. AA is the preferred type.
Igenity profile Tenderness is a DNA genetic marker panel test comprised of three markers (UoGCAST1, Calpain 4751 and Calpain 316). An increase in “tenderness” is associated with substituting a “C” allele at calpastatin (UoGCAST1) and a “C” allele at both μ-calpain loci (Calpain 4751 and Calpain 316). The following table shows the decrease in “toughness” (Warner-Bratzler Shear Force, lb) for each of the possible genotypes contrasted to the least tender genotype (i.e. UoG-Cast1 “GG”, Capn4751 “TT”, Capn316 “GG”) calculated from a combined analysis of 1209 cattle from four sample populations (Brangus, Charolais x Angus cross, Red Angus and Brahman) used in the validation study.
Why you should save your money and not waste it on the genetic testing listed above.
If you are researching Wagyu I’m sure you’ve come across advertising for the tests listed above in either private treaty marketing or breed sales. We too invested in these tests when we first got in the breed. What we noticed is some of the top carcass bulls test poorly according to the tests. Take Itoshigenami for example, he is the all time top carcass bull in Australia where Wagyu is a very serious business . His carcasses are amazing yet he scored a VV on the SCD Test and a Tenderness Test of 3. Those results do not correlate to real world carcass data. Shigeshigetani is another excellent carcass bull that has proven himself , he is a VA with a Tenderness score of 3 but he is one of the most sought after bulls in the breed because he performs every time.
We were fortunate enough to attend the Miyagi-Zenkyo (Wagyu Olympics) in Japan fall of 2017. It is the National Wagyu Show for all of Japan held every 5 years with several hundred Japanese Black Wagyu being shown with over 200 carcasses. We spent several days there looking at cattle, sitting in on seminars and walking the booths with hundreds of vendors and not one of those vendors had any literature or marketing materials for Exon 5, SCD and Tenderness testing. We also toured a Japanese feed lot where we asked them directly if they were familiar with any of those tests and the answer was no.
If you look at those tests you will see the Tenderness Test was developed using Brangus, Charolais x Angus cross, Red Angus and Brahman. None of those breeds are even close to Wagyu. Those tests also do not account for the extreme marbling to muscle fiber ratio in Wagyu and if that isn’t enough the Japanese do not use it. As for the SCD Test and Exon 5 those tests were developed by researchers in Japan but we could find no presence of them at the Wagyu Olympics or speaking to the Japanese breeders. We were contacted by researchers in Japan a couple years ago with a new test they developed. We’ve come to find out researchers will keep developing tests as long as someone will buy them, it doesn’t mean they are worth it. In fact when this breed started out in the US the test that was promoted was Genestar, it included the Tenderness Test and the entire test was dropped not long after its implementation. Also note a recent study done by a Japanese scientist on the difference between AA and VV was about 1%.
To put it bluntly you will see these tests in marketing materials from breeders that do not harvest steers, they are "seed stock" producers relying heavily on genetic testing not carcass evaluations, testing that can’t replicate its results in the real world. The most accurate test we have is taking steers to finish and evaluating the carcasses. If we continue to use tests with no merit then we will be actively devaluing genetics out of our own pastures, it will also guide our breeding decisions with no basis. We must harvest steers to determine how we want to breed. Wagyu is a performance breed and that performance is judged by carcass quality and extreme marbling, if we are not careful we can breed the marbling right out of them.
What are the recessive disorders in Wagyu? (And why none of that should concern you whatsoever.)
Erythrocyte Membrane Protein Band III Deficiency (Spherocytosis) (Band 3)
Affected cattle (cattle with two copies of the causative mutation) are morbidly anemic. The mutations affect a protein necessary for proper shape and function of red blood cells. Calves are typically born weak and small (40-55 lbs birth weight) with severe anemia, labored breathing, palpitations, and not able to stand or suckle at birth. This disorder is often lethal, but some affected cattle survive to adulthood, although with severely retarded growth.
Claudin 16 Deficiency (CL16)
This mutation causes a buildup of fibrous tissue in the kidneys as well as other tissues. Affected cattle suffer from a severe risk of kidney failure throughout their lives. Other symptoms include growth retardation, increased blood urea nitrogen and creatinine values, diarrhea and overgrowth of hooves. It may or may not be lethal, but affected cattle tend to have atypically short lives.
Chediak-Higashi Syndrome (CHS)
Affected cattle have a deficiency in cells that make up a functional immune system. As a result, these calves are often more susceptible to disease and infection. These cattle may also have a light coat color, and slight coagulation problems (hemorrhaging). This disorder is usually not lethal.
Bovine Blood Coagulation Factor XIII Deficiency (F13)
This disorder is where one of the proteins needed to form blood clots is missing or reduced. Symptoms include severely prolonged bleeding time, bruising from castration/branding, and severe anemia. Death occurs in most cases.
Factor XI Deficiency (F11)
This mutation affects the efficiency of the clotting factor F11. Affected cattle suffer from mild hemophilia-like bleeding tendencies, either spontaneously or following trauma and surgical procedures. It is also possible that Carrier x Carrier mating have increased difficulty producing viable fertilized embryos and full-term pregnancies and are often Repeat Breeders1. Normal repeat breeding may be considered 40% with 60% conception being an industry average. It has been reported that factor 11 increased rebreeding by 50% in the Canadian Holstein breed, so now instead of 60% conception we will get 40% conception with 60% of the animals open to be rebred.
One word why you should NOT be concerned about the genetic recessive disorders, MANAGEMENT.
When we first encountered this breed the first thing we heard about was the genetic recessive disorders. We made sure we were going to stay clear of any carrier animal, when we started to plan our matings we noticed that we would not be able to use the absolute best sires in all of the breed if we went with that way of thinking. If you are going to breed Wagyu you will be using carrier animals often. There is no way around it, in fact you would be ill advised not to use some of the carrier animals.
It’s easy to avoid making affected animals since you control the matings. We choose every mating for each cow and take into account their status as a carrier or free animal. When we choose the sires we just choose one that’s not a carrier if we are breeding a carrier cow. Our clean up bulls are free of any recessives to make it easier on us. All our animals have either been tested so we know the status or they are free by parentage. As long as the breeder knows the status of each animal (and you will) then you can breed around the genetic recessive disorders. I would also note that Japan and Australia no longer tests for F11.
What happens when carriers are mated to other animals?
A carrier will, on average, pass the undesirable gene form to a random half (50 %) of their progeny.
When a carrier bull and carrier cow are mated:
- There is a 25% chance that the progeny produced will have two normal genes and will never pass on the undesirable gene.
- There is a 50% chance that the mating will produce a carrier.
- There is a 25% chance that the progeny will inherit two copies of the undesirable gene and hence be affected by the genetic condition which is why we do not breed carrier to carrier.
When a carrier animal is mated to an animal tested free of the genetic condition:
- All progeny will appear normal and will be unaffected by the condition.
- There is a 50% chance that the mating will produce a carrier.
- There is a 50% chance that the progeny produced will have two normal genes and will never pass on the undesirable gene.
What are benefits of implanting embryos?
How does the embryo process work?
What is a recipient cow?
How critical is recipient cow selection?
Can I just buy the open cows at my local sale barn to save money?
Can I use dairy cows as recipients?
What makes a good recipient cow?
What other factors should I consider when selecting a recipient?
Here are a few examples below, if you research this more you can find extensive papers written on recipient cow selection.
- Stress levels.
- Body condition.
- Temperament of the recipient.
- Breed type.
- Using Heifers at least 65% of their mature weight or cows up to 6 years old.
- Mineral program months prior to implant.
- Upward Nutrition months prior to implant.
What is the success rate of embryo transfer?
What other variables should one consider when implanting embryos?
When purchasing embryos from us you will get an embryo that’s been made and graded by a certified embryologist. That is one of many variables you need to consider, who made the embryo? Below are many examples of the other variables you will have to control from the recipient side.
- Weather Stress, How hot is too hot and how cold is too cold? I would say weather ranks up there as one of the most important factors. The more stress the less likely the cow will take the embryo. Summer in Missouri we will generally implant until mid June. As long as the nights cool down and we don’t see high 90 degree days with no relief we will implant. After Mid June you are risking it I think. We don’t recommend starting back up until late October, even though September is a great month in Missouri the August heat stress carries through September and will give very poor results. As for how Cold is too cold, I would say getting into the single digits for too many consecutive days will create a problem. We’ve not seen the cold stress as much as the summer heat stress but stress is stress so be aware.
- Nutrition is another factor, we like to see our cows on an upward diet months before implant but we don’t want them to fat either.
- Mineral intake is also very important. We do not want any deficiencies in our recipient herd. We give free choice mineral to all of our recipients along with a MultiMin shot at least 30 days before implant.
- Working facilities if you can not work your cattle quiet and efficient then you are adding unneeded levels of stress that can impact conception.
- Farm hands are our savior and sometimes biggest mess makers, when setting recipients up for implant it a several day process. As long as they follow the instructions given by the embryologist then you won’t have any problems but if they miss a step or give the wrong medication then all the work is for nothing.
How long is an embryo good after freezing?
Can hauling recipients hurt conception rate?
Can embryologists come to my farm for implants?
Can you ship embryos to my embryologist?
How are they shipped?
How much is shipping?
Do I need a liquid nitrogen tank?
Can my local vet do the implants?
Can embryos be shipped overseas?
How do I set up my recipient cows for implant?
Do you sell sexed semen?
Do you sell sexed embryos?
What is the difference between IVF and conventionally flushed embryos?
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