Breed information & history



Wagyu simply translates to “Wa” = “Japanese” and, “Gyu” = “Cow”

There are four(4) breeds or strains of Wagyu. Only the Japanese Black and Japanese Brown (Kumamoto line) are available outside of Japan (see below). Japanese Brown Wagyu are also referred to as Red Wagyu or Akaushi.

In the United States, they are bred for their superior beef quality traits and calving ease. Wagyu are also used in terminal meat programs with breeds like Angus and Holstein to increase the meat quality grade of the first-cross progeny. 




The first importation of Japanese Wagyu bulls occurred in 1976. These bulls came from the Hyogo, Tottori, and Okayama prefectures in Japan. Meat quality research at Texas A&M University in 1976 led to the exportation of these sire lines to the United States. Trade discussions in 1992 between the United States and Japanese led to an agreement, allowing the exportation of Japanese Wagyu females to the United States. Additional bulls and females were exported to the U.S. in 1993, ‘94, and ‘98. After 1998, exportation of Japanese Wagyu has not occurred. Japanese Wagyu are knows as “Full-Blood Wagyu” or “100% Wagyu”, in the United States. In order to maintain a Full-Blood Wagyu certification, a three-way DNA verification procedure is required to ensure the integrity of each ruminants lineage, which must be traceable to Japanese origins.

Carpenter Cattle Company is proud to have one of the most genetically-sound Wagyu herds, founded on genes from imported Japanese Wagyu Bulls and Cows.


Forty to fifty thousand years ago, black cattle found their way to Asia from Europe. They took thirty to forty thousand years to breed in China before entering the Korean Peninsula. They eventually made their way to Japan where they were mostly used for carrying wood out of the mountains or working in the rice fields and plowing. This is the main reason why Wagyu are strong in the front and narrow in the back. About 200 years ago, the Japanese civilization was opened to the world. This created an adaptation the Western civilization, introducing the idea of eating beef to the Japanese.

Wagyu is known for its abundance of marbeling, more than any other type of beef. Marbeling is a trait people associate with quality. The gene, Delta 9 Desaturate, is “super turned on” in Wagyu cattle. Delta 9 Desaturate produces an enzyme that takes steric acid, which is saturated, and converts it into oleic acid, which is unsaturated. This is a huge deal from a nutritional point of view.

Wagyu is the most delicious meat in the world. It exceeds all standards set by the USDA for Prime Beef. At Carpenter Cattle Company, we are proud to provide Wagyu beef.


Japanese Black* (黒毛和種 Kuroge Washu)

The Japanese Black was primarily used as the “workhorse” prior to the turn of the 20th Century. This breed was improved during the Meiji Era through crossbreeding and obtained certification as indigenous Japanese beef cattle in 1944. It is raised in most Prefectures of Japan, and holds 90% of the Japanese Wagyu market. Fine strips of fat are found in its lean meat (known as marbling). The flavor of this beef is exquisite, with a buttery, tender texture that dissolves in your mouth.

Japanese Brown* (赤毛和種 Akage Washu)

Also known as “Akaushi (“Aka” = Red “Ushi” = Cattle),” the Japanese Brown is raised primarily in Kumamoto and Kochi Prefectures. The Kumamoto line is the most common with several hundred thousand in existence. The Kochi line has less than two thousand in existence and is only found in Japan. They can be distinguished by the dark points on its nose and feet. The more dominant Kumamoto line was improved by crossbreeding Simmental with Hanwoo (Korean Red), which was formerly used as a “work horse” during the Meiji Era. It was certified as indigenous Japanese beef cattle in 1944. Among its characteristics is its low fat content, about 12% or less. Because it contains more lean meat, its tastiness and pleasantly firm texture is highly enjoyable. Akaushi fats are light with a fine texture, attracting a great deal of attention for its healthiness and taste. 


Japanese Shorthorn (日本短角和種 Nihon Tankaku Washu) - ONLY IN JAPAN

The Japanese Shorthorn is raised mainly in the Tohoku Region. This breed was improved by crossbreeding the Shorthorn with the indigenous Nanbu Cattle. It has been continuously improved thereafter, until its certification as indigenous Japanese beef cattle in 1957. Its lean meat and low fat content produces a mild and savory flavor. It also contains inosinic acid (a compound important in metabolism) and glutamic acid, substances that enhance flavor. The Japanese grade is BMS 3 or below but it is favored by many for its unique taste.

Japanese Polled (無角和種 Mukaku Washu) - ONLY IN JAPAN

The Japanese Polled was produced through crossbreeding of Aberdeen Angus, imported from Scotland, with the indigenous Japanese Black in 1920. Further improvement led to certification as indigenous Japanese beef cattle in 1944. Its characteristics include a high lean meat content and distinctive Wagyu taste. It contains a high percentage of amino acid and has a rich, meaty flavor. The current population of Japanese Polled is the smallest of all four(4) breeds with only several hundred in existence today.