This is a question I’m asked almost daily by producers and consumers who are interested in this breed of cattle and beef but are not sure how to get started. Maybe Akaushi is something that aligns very well with what they currently do or maybe it’s a change of pace. As you know, every producer’s goals and production scheme are different.
Seedstock Production- Raising fullblood cattle is a whole new ball of wax if you are a commercial producer. Tagging and weighing calves at birth, DNA collection and marketing of replacement stock are the main differences between seedstock and commercial production. But if you are in the Akaushi seedstock business you’ve probably seen these added inputs to be beneficial over the past year. We’ve seen strong fullblood bull, female and frozen genetic sales recently and enthusiasm for the breed is continuing. The number of fullblood breeders continue to grow and the demand for the cattle worldwide is as high as many can recall. If you want to start or expand your seedstock operation do yourself a favor: Buy the breeder’s cattle breeding philosophy and long term goals BEFORE you buy their genetics.
There are three types of seedstock herds, in my opinion, no matter what breed of cattle you’re talking about: (1) nucleus genetic herds, (2) multiplier herds and (3) a combination of the two. Nucleus herds are very small in actual number of producers that fall into this category. They possess elite, rare or foundation genetics and selection strategies to supply other fullblood breeders with genetics. Typically nucleus herds have a closed or mostly closed herd where very little outside genetics are used...in most cases they are used as an outcross option. These herds are consider to be at the very top of the seedstock/genetic supply and price point. Multiplier herds are far more common in our cattle industry. They supply other seedstock and commercial producers with fullblood and percentage blood genetics. They frequently sample other seedstock breeder’s genetics and commercial bull sales are of upmost importance to their business success. Both types are diligent with data collection, cow and family history, and moderate to intense selection pressure to achieve goals.
Commercial Production- Cow-calf producers have seen tremendous business opportunity in using Akaushi bulls in their operations. Most view Akaushi and Wagyu buyback programs/alliances as risk management tools. The premiums for half blood (or higher) Akaushi backgrounded or fed cattle generally range twenty cents or higher over market depending on the buyer and status of the cattle. Over the past two years the number of buyers for half blood Akaushi and Wagyu have grown giving producers more marketing options. Akaushi bulls typically range from $5000-8000.
Most will attest Akaushi sires get more cows bred in the first two estrous cycles while improving calving ease. As you can imagine average daily gain can be reduced versus Charolais or Angus-sired calves. However, it is often offset by a front-loaded calving season, reduced dystocia and premiums garnered. Producers that sell cattle as backgrounded five weights, yearlings off grass as eight weights, natural grain fed fats or grass feds are all benefiting from the Akaushi advantages. I often tell commercial clients often how easy it is to take part in these marketing alliances….just change your breed of bull, continue raising cattle as you have, and I’ll help you get them marketed.
I visit with a number of fullblood Akaushi breeders daily. Most are good people who stand behind their products and have the common goal of expanding the breed. They are very inviting and willing to help new breeders get started even if they have different breeding principles.
Consumers- Last but not least we have the consumers of our beef. People always ask if it really is that much different than commodity product. Trust me, it is. One of my favorite things to do is watch a consumer’s eyes fill with satisfaction when they take their first bite of Akaushi product, no matter if it is fullblood or F1. At this point we have them hooked. Akaushi beef is in its highest demand and most are sold out of product weekly. Consumer demand is the biggest driver of the Akaushi influence in America and across the world.