Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wagyu Woes

The other day I assigned some research for my class after reading some disturbing news reports about Wagyu beef in Japan. The assignment was basic, write about the situation in Japan and also find out about Wagyu production in Australia. Being a casual sidebar assignment I allowed a simple web source to be the citation. This is what Maxim Pettersen handed in....

What happened to Wagyu in Japan?:

Japan's prized Miyazaki beef is under threat from the country's first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease since 2000, which has spread to more than 100 frams. Foot- and- mouth disease is a highly contagious and sometimes fatal viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, water buffalo, sheep, goats, and pigs, as well as antelope, bison and other wild bovids, and deer. The disease is highly transmissible and the icubation period has a range between 2- 12 days. It is characterized by high fever, blisters inside the mouth, drooling, blisters on the feet that cause lameness. The outbreak in Japan has forced the slaughtering of 49 seed bulls, leaving only six prized seed bulls that breed the tender beef from Miyazaki. Prime Minister Yukio Hatayama has pledged 100 billion yen ( $1.08 billion dollars) to assist farmers who are expected to lose 16 billion yen from slaughtering their livestock. The foot and mouth otbreak, also known as FMVD, was detected on April 20th, and has spread to 111 farms in Miyazaki, Japan's south, involving more than 85,000 cattle, and pigs. Fears are growing that it may spread beyond Miazaki.

Wagyu Production in Australia:

Australia received its first Wagyu genetics from a Wagyu female in 1990. Frozen semen and embryos have been available since 1991 and there have been numerous imports of live purebreds into Australia, and specifically in 1997, the first fullbloods came to Australia. The Australian Wagyu Association is the largest breed association outside of Japan. Both Fullblod and Wagyu Croos bred cattle are farmed in Australia for domestic and overseas markets. The Wagyu cattle represent only 100,000 of the 28.8 million cattle in Australia, however takes up 40% of the Australian feedlot space in a 12 month period. The FMVD outbreak that has banned the export of Wagyu cattle in Japan, has increased the demand for Australian Wagyu producers, and some producers hope to double their exports to overseas markets such as the U.S.