Sandy Acres Farm has brought in a new herd of beef cattle to the Thunder Bay area, it is the first small herd of wagyu beef cattle in northwestern Ontario. If you don’t know what wagyu is, well, it is the type of cow that Kobe beef comes from!
It all started when we bought 8 full-blood Tajima wagyu embryos from a breeder in Michigan in 2008, full-blood means that their ancestors can be traced back to a herd in Japan. This is significant because wagyu cattle could only be exported from Japan for a short time during the Meiji Restoration in the late 1800's, with the exception of that period, Japan’s national herd has remained closed to all exports, making them very rare outside Japan.
Embryo transfer from frozen embryos is incredibly tricky and very risky. Our veterinarian had to scan the cow using ultrasound to ensure she was ready to accept the embryo because the window in which each embryo could be implanted is only a few hours, and the viability of the embryos, and whether the cow would accept them, is completely unknown. Luckily, one of those embryos resulted in the successful birth of a full-blood Tajima bull calf. We have since added two wagyu heifers, one of which is calved this spring (heifer 2015), and the other, due to be bred this summer.
This project has been evolving over the last 8 years. It has cost a lot in research and development but our goal is to continue to provide the highest quality beef in Thunder Bay. Results of this project has also lead to significant improvements in the quality of our limousin beef. Limousin beef traits include leaner cuts, and double muscling, translating into less waste while cutting and wrapping. We have also improved the quality of our meet through better marbling and more tender cuts. We have found that it is not only the breed of beef that increases quality but also how they are raised and what they are fed.