Twenty years ago, Japan exported a small group of prized cattle. Tracing its progeny has since become the preoccupation of breeders, chefs and beef fans. Here’s how one Ontario farmer became a globally sought-after source for the stuff Wagyu cows are made of…
Kurosawatsu owns Wagyu Sekai, a 200-acre farm in Puslinch, Ont., outside of Guelph. About 70 per cent of his revenue is from the sale of wagyu genetics (an industry umbrella term that includes semen, eggs, embryos and live animals sold for breeding). The collection is done off-site at inspected facilities, and he ships all over the world – Brazil, Argentina, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Ireland – to buyers using it to propagate their herds.
True Wagyu cows are rare outside of Japan. Nearly everything on the international market are hybrid descendants of a carefully traced group of cattle released from Japan during a window of export in the 1990s. Within this already niche corner of the beef market, Wagyu Sekai is its own niche, exclusively raising 100-per-cent full-blood Wagyu and focusing on genetics sales, rather than meat.
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