History and Benefits of Akaushi
Several attempts to write the history of Akaushi have been made throughout the last 15+ years. Many inaccuracies have been disseminated and hopefully this article will provide guidance. Between Bill Fisher (Legendary Akaushi Genetics, www.akaushigenetics.com) and myself, we have studied original USDA import documents and communicated directly with individuals involved in the actual shipments. Mr. Fisher has done extensive lineage investigation on ancestors to the Akaushi imports that came from Japan.
There are four primary beef breeds of cattle in Japan (Japan Black, Japansese Brown, Japanese Poll and Japanese Shorthorn). Many strains can be found within each breed depending on the prefecture (Island) and region. Within the Japanese Brown breed there are two main strains, the Kochi and Kumamoto Reds. In the late 1800’s to early 1900’s the Japanese imported live cattle of British, European and Korean breeds. The Kumamoto strain of Japanese Browns were crossed with Korean Hanwoo, South Devon and Simmental (Namikawa, 1992).
In 1976, four bulls were imported from Japan by Morris Whitney. Two of the bulls (Rueshaw and Judo) were Japanese Brown bulls from the Kumamoto prefecture that we refer to now as Akaushi or Red Wagyu. Colorado State and Washington State University did research with graded-up progeny since no fullblood females were available at that time. In 1994, Englewood (Dr. Al and Marie Wood, Texas) purchased Akaushi cattle in the Kumamoto prefecture of Japan with help from Mr. Yukio Kurosawatsu (Wagyu Sekai, Japan/Canada), Dr. Takuma Fuji (Kumamoto), Mr. Ken Kurosawatsu (Master Breeder Wagyu Sekai, Japan/Canada) and others. The fullblood cattle were subsequently imported by Mannet who were on their second Japanese Black importation. Seven Akaushi females (Namiko, Akiko, Haruko, Fuyuko, Ume, Dai 8 Marunami, Ringo 117) and three Akaushi bulls (Shigemaru, Tamamaru and Hikari) constituted the eventual HeartBrand Cattle Company original purchase. After their arrival to the U.S., female Dai 9 Koubai 73 was purchased from Yukio Kurosawatsu and females Himawari 245 and Hitomi 244 were purchased from Takeda (Japan, verified by USDA documentation). Akiko gave birth to Big Al 502 (originally named Mitsuaki) in quarantine after arriving in the U.S. Wagyu Sekai (Yukio and Ken Kurosawatsu, Canada) took the imported females Naomi and Dai 3 Namiaki Ni and their calves (Momigimaru and Kaedemaru, respectively) that were born in U.S. quarantine to Canada. They were in the second Mannet importation as well. As well in 1994, Japanese Venture Partners (JVP) imported two red heifers (124 Kunisakae and 27 Homare).
Reproduction traits (both in males and females) have been one of the most beneficial aspects of the Akaushi breed. The HeartBrand herd of 3,000 head of Akaushi females in Texas has experienced conception rates of over 90% for many years. Male fertility is exceptional and has been reliable during breeding seasons in hot climates. In fact, Akaushi bulls will continue to produce semen at collections centers throughout the hottest months when Brahman and other Bos indicus breeds fail to do so.
The American Akaushi Association reports an unadjusted breed average for birth weight of 68 pounds (30.8 kgs) across thousands of fullblood records. Calf presentation in the birthing canal is typically proper. We deem the Akaushi breed as calving ease, however, not all Akaushi (and Black Wagyu) bulls are suitable for first calf heifers as there can be variation in calf size at birth.
95% or higher of F1 Akaushi terminal crosses will finish BMS 3+ at 18-20 months of age on short fed grain rations even when crossed with Bos indicus influenced females. As the grain finishing period lengthens they have the propensity to achieve higher BMS levels in a linear manner (Sasaki et al., 2006). Fullblood Akaushi steers that are 28 months of age at harvest will weigh ~1,450 pounds (660 kgs) and 75%+ will be BMS 7+ when grain fed for longer periods.
Grass finishing utilization
A growing number of farmers are using Akaushi genetics to increase the value of their grass finished cattle. The early results indicate an increase in marbling and desirable flavor versus their non-Wagyu cattle. Therefore, the farmers are able to increase the value of the product in the marketplace.
Akaushi breeders can expect a well balanced high quality udder on the females. Akaushi can correct poorer quality udders in breeds where problems exist with bottle teats, low slung and pendulous udders.
Additional marbling contributes to more health benefits of the beef. Akaushi specific research data done by Dr. Stephen Smith, TAMU reported per 100 grams of raw meat a MUFA:SFA ratio of 1.26, oleic aid content of 9.56 grams and CLA content of 89 mg. These values were well above the non-Wagyu commodity beef tested.
Currently, Akaushi do not have any genetic disorders that hinder production. There has been no speculation F11 affects Akaushi cattle in any manner. As with any breed some level of attention should be place on breeding strategies to avoid unfavorable genetic combinations (e.g., incest matings). As well, low performing and less thrifty animals should be culled to avoid propagating inferior genetics into cattle herds.
Namikawa, K. 1992. Breeding history of Japanese Beef cattle and preservation of genetic resources as economic farm animals. Wagyu. 2nd ed. Wagyu Registry Assoc., Kyoto, Japan.
Sasaki, Y., T. Miyake, C. Gaillard, T. Oguni, M. Matsumoto, M. Ito, T. Kurahara,
Y. Sasae, K. Fujinaka, S. Ohtagaki, and T. Dougo. 2006. Comparison of genetic gains per year for carcass traits among breeding programs in the Japanese Brown and the Japanese Black cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 84:317–323