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Heart Healthy Japanese Breed Catching On Fast
Akaushi beef bulls are being used to quickly upgrade beef herds to produce a higher percentage of prime carcasses. Purebred Akaushi cattle bring premium prices thanks to its heart healthy, high quality beef that appeals to consumers, says Bubba Bain, executive director, American Akaushi Association.
  “Most cattlemen first buy the bulls to use as a terminal cross and sell back to the branded program or as a premium product,” explains Bain.
  Producing premium carcasses is reason enough for the popularity among commercial cattlemen. While the national average for carcasses grading prime is less than 3 percent, Akaushi overwhelmingly produce prime grade carcasses. First generation crosses average 36 percent prime, and select crosses, such as with Angus, average 50 to 55 percent prime.
  “A lot of the first commercial breeders are retaining females for upgrading their herd to purebred Akaushi,” says Bain. “If they can DNA verify the sires and dams up to the 15/16 cross, they’re considered purebred Akaushi.”
  The breed was developed in Japan as the only free-range breed. Males reach 1,700 to 1,800 lbs., and full blood females reach 1,000 to 1,100 lbs. Male birthweights average 72 lbs., and female birthweights average 68 lbs. For 150 years, the Akaushi were carefully bred to produce consistently tender, highly marbled, high quality (prime or better) meat.
  A select group of bulls and cows, each from different breeding lines, was exported from Japan in 1994. No other Akaushi have been allowed out of Japan. With the aide of embryo transplant and artificial insemination there are now 10,000 fullblood animals in the U.S. About 8,000 of them are females. Another 3,000 females are in the process of being upgraded to 15/16 status.
  We have 6 fullblood breeders and another 306 breeders in the upgrade/terminal program,” says Bain.
  The breeding program has been carefully supervised and controlled, first by HeartBrand Beef and since 2010 by the association. HeartBrand is now the exclusive “certified” market/marketer of Akaushi meat products.
  Ronald Beeman, HeartBrand, explains what makes Akaushi beef different. “The muscle fibers are longer and thinner, which helps make the meat more tender,” he says. “The fatty acid composition is also different. When you cook this beef, you can pour the fat off into a cup, and at room temperature, it stays liquid. Regular pork or beef fat will solidify to a hard, white fat.”
  The liquidity is an indicator of healthy qualities. “The Akaushi produces meat with a high ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats,” says Bain. There’s also a high amount of oleic acid (the healthy ingredient in olive oil) in Akaushi meat. It is extremely heart healthy.
  Bill Fielding, CEO, HeartBrand Beef, suggests that high quality married to heart healthy is what attracts consumers to his premium priced products. The company sells an 8-oz. tenderloin filet for $80 and a 14 oz. ribeye for $50. Ground beef sells for $7.50 per pound.
  As a result of the demand and limited supply of breeding stock, bulls sell at a premium as well, ranging from $7,000 to $8,000. No fullblood females are available, as that supply has been limited building the herds for the association’s fullblood breeders. Bain expects that females may be available to outside breeders by the end of the year. Meanwhile any breeder, commercial or otherwise, can begin an upgrading program.
  “One thing that hasn’t changed is our culling program,” says Bain. “We are adamant about maintaining quality and integrity. We recommend breeders retain their top 40 percent of males and 60 percent of females and cull the rest.
  “There will be 500 to 600 bulls for sale this year,” says Bain. “Crossing with Akaushi is a great way to double your grade and improve yield as well.”
  He suggests that interested buyers contact the association for the names of breeders with bulls to sell.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, American Akaushi Association, 732 Jeff Davis Rd., Harwood, Texas 78632 (ph 830 540-3912; www.akaushi.com); or HeartBrand Beef, 101 W. South Main St., Flatonia, Texas 78941 (ph 877 252-8744; info@heartbrandbeef.com; www.heartbrandbeef.com).

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2015 - Volume #39, Issue #4