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History of Takeda Farm

Takeda Farm was established in 1954 as a Black Wagyu cattle farm. It now has about 400 cattle at any time. Takeda Farm has won the Grand Championship 12 times at the Hokkaido Wagyu Championship Competition, and has participated three times between 1972 and 1985 in the National Wagyu Championship Competition, held every 5 years by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery.  

Takeda Farm’s interest in exporting Wagyu genetics developed during the 1990s. Mr. Takeda participated in an international beef study tour to the US and Canada in 1992, which provided him an opportunity to rethink the past, present and future of Wagyu beef.

Mr. Takeda’s thinking was influenced by his understanding of how livestock farming had developed in Japan in its history since it reopened to trading with the world (about 150 years ago the Japanese Government abolished its centuries old closed-door policy, enabling international trade with other countries to develop –
Refer below to the comparison between the native breeds and imported breeds at that time).

During the study tour, Mr. Takeda observed the North American breeding, calf raising and fattening practices, and the resulting carcasses in the US and Canada. He was told that they fatten their feeder cattle of 12 months of age (280 kg weight) for 8 months (240 days) to 600 kg (±20 kg). The carcass weight was 300 kg(±15 kg)with 1~2 cm subcutaneous fat. The North Americans said this was the best example of fattening their cattle.

While the cattle appeared quite fine, Mr. Takeda thought the meat was watery, lacked a rich flavor and would have a short shelf life. Mr. Takeda believed that if these cows were replaced by Wagyu F1 cattle, it would be possible to extend fattening for an extra 60 days at the same cost, as Wagyu cattle’s feed efficiency is higher. The carcass weight would increase by 40 kg, and the flavor would improve dramatically. This would bring a win-win situation to both the growers and consumers.

“I will export Wagyu to the US.”

The study tour inspired Mr. Takeda to contemplate exporting Wagyu cattle to the US, thinking “If I do this, the breeders in the US, Australia and other countries will spread Wagyu genetics to the rest of the world. Then, people all over the world can enjoy eating Wagyu beef”.  By doing this, he thought he could return the favor Japan had been extended by the rest of the world in the past.

Mr. Takeda was 65 years old when he decided it would be his mission to export his Wagyu cattle to the US (which would eventually spread worldwide).

He started his preparation to commence exporting in 1993.  However, there was strong opposition led by the Japanese Wagyu Association which quickly spread all over Japan.

But in 1994 permission to export Wagyu genetics was granted by the Minster for Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery. In May 1995, Mr. Takeda exported 35 heifers and 6 bulls to the US, followed by a further 45 heifers and another 6 bulls in May 1997. Then, in 1998, he sent his part of US herd, 20 bulls and 100 heifers to Australia. This was the first livestock export of Wagyu cattle from the US to Australia. Now, Wagyu cattle with great genetics continue to be bred around the world.

Depending on the country, consumer tastes for beef vary. And the different breeds have their own characteristics, including the faults that can develop. However, compared to other breeds, the Wagyu breed has a tremendous advantage in feed efficiency, meat quality and yield rate under grain fattening. Therefore, it is certain that Wagyu cattle will be increasingly produced by the breeders of the world. 

And improvement of the Wagyu breed is still possible by breeding those genetics with great results with right combination. It is our mission to continue to provide those great genetics to other breeders around the world.

Comparison of the native breeds and imported breeds

A brief summary and comparison of the native breeds and imported breeds influencing Japanese livestock farming follows:

  • Native: only Wagyu cattle, mostly Black Wagyu, but also Red, Black & White.
  • Imported: Ayrshire, Holstein.  As a result, dairy foods such as milk, butter and cheese came to be consumed in Japan.
  • Native: height 120 cm, weight 300 ~ 400 kg
  • Imported: height 150 cm or more, being able to carry loads twice as heavy as the native breed and run three times faster.

There were only wild boars in Japan. Piggeries started following the importation of pigs, resulting in the Japanese diet becoming more nutritious.

  • Native: 10 to 20 eggs at one nesting with average 80 eggs a year.
  • Imported: imported chickens laid more than 200 eggs a year. 

As a result of the importation of livestock animals, a livestock industry was established in Japan. This contributed to an improved diet and health of the Japanese people.

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The Future

by Yusuke Takeda, a grandson of Mr. Takeda

Mr.Takeda and his grandson

It has been many years since, in 1995, my grandfather exported his Wagyu genetics overseas for the first time, hoping people around the world would enjoy eating Wagyu beef.  At Takeda Farm we are always working to keep his hope in our minds. Using our genetics, many beef growers are now producing Wagyu beef overseas to suit their peoples’ tastes.

Nowadays the word “Wagyu” is certainly heard and seen in many places you go around the world. However, I feel we are still only halfway along our journey, with many places where Wagyu beef has not reached yet. So it still remains some distance from my grandfather’s vision that “people all over the world enjoy Wagyu beef”. We cannot say yet that Wagyu beef has ‘taken root in the soil’ of all people’s food cultures, to really appreciate it, in a true sense. 

My grandfather taught me about “Hare no hi” in Japanese culture, which means a special day to celebrate something. On “hare no hi”, families get together to share meals. For a long time, beef dishes have been in the center of the table on special occasions in Japan. Regardless of their financial situation, everyone from rich to poor has enjoyed beef dishes. Beef has been rooted deeply in Japanese food culture. 

Our mission for the future is that Wagyu beef will take root in each country and become part of their food culture too. 

Thanks to all the interest and support from around the world, my grandfather’s seedlings have germinated and have been gradually growing spreading an interest in Wagyu beef. We would like to continue to work hand in hand with those people who share our vison and create a new food culture. Takeda Farm has been and will always be working with beef growers. I am committed to carrying the baton handed to me by my grandfather for many years to come to fulfil his vision.

Yusuke Takeda