Wagyu Feeding

The aim of Wagyu feeding is to produce a good quality, high marbling carcass. The different Wagyu production systems and development stages should be managed to realize this end product.

The principles of feeding Wagyu is to firstly ensure that genetic potential of the animal is met. Creep feeding from an early age ensures optimal skeletal growth. Wagyu’s are fed for longer periods, with the feed containing higher roughage percentage and low Vitamin A than in usual beef production. The animals should be able to utilize the bypass proteins and starch included in the feed. Make sure that the feed used promotes fat cell production to ensure increased marbling. Animals are fed to a higher carcass weight and are more mature at slaughter. It is preferred that no hormones or genetically modified materials are included in the feed.

With the genetic potential being the first principle, it is important to select form genetic pools that have top index and carcass values, with high accuracy.

Feeding will also differ between your specific production system, e.g. Stud Breeding, Cross Breeding and Finishing.

In a stud breeding system, you need to feed according to the animals needs. These needs will differ depending on the stage of production, like, pre-birth, lactation, creep feeding and bull feeding.

To maintain cross bred animals, they should be provided with a proper palatable lick supplement and good pasture. Cross bred calves should receive creep feed for the first three months, while on a good quality roughage. Thereafter calves should be fed a ration with lower protein and higher energy until weaned and moved to the feedlot.

During the feedlot phase silage is often used to reduce the feed cost. When entering the feedlot animals are fed a starter ration for three weeks to adapt into the feedlot environment. This ration is higher in starch and lower in roughage. Thereafter moves to a production ration with increased starch and lowered protein and roughages. This ration is fed for 200 days. The finishing ration is fed for 100 days and is lower in crude protein and higher in energy to ensure advancement of marbling.

Wagyu cattle can only produce a high marbling carcass with good quality meat if the genetics, environment and feed is managed correctly over the prolonged production phase.