What is Wagyu?
Wagyu is a term that literally means "Japanese Cow" and is the name given to cattle breeds developed over centuries in Japan. There are four breeds of Japanese cattle that can be called Wagyu, but the Kuroge Washu breed (or Japanese Black) stands apart for its genetic predisposition to finely grained, evenly-distributed intramuscular marbling, giving it its extreme tenderness and umami succulence.
Pure Wagyu vs. Wagyu Cross
Pure Wagyu is comprised of Fullblood Wagyu and Purebred Wagyu.
- Fullblood Wagyu is 100% genetically pure, with lineage traceable to Japanese herds and no evidence of crossbreeding. These cattle are the offspring of a bull and cow whose forebears originated in Japan.
- Purebred Wagyu contains more than 93.75% pure Japanese Wagyu genetics. These cattle are the offspring of a Fullblood bull and a Crossbred cow.
Wagyu Cross contains 50% or less Kuroge Washu genetics, and is typically crossed with Angus cattle.
Bringing Kuroge Washu to America
Beginning in the Meiji era, Japan recognized the value and quality of Wagyu and sought to develop this meat into the finest quality beef in the world. In 1975, they began selling Kuroge Washu cattle to buyers in America and beyond, introducing the breed’s supreme marbling, tenderness and flavor to the world. However, just two decades later in 1997, the Japanese government banned all export of Wagyu genetics, seeking to preserve the purity of the bloodline.
Today, all domestic pasture-raised Wagyu comes from those fullblood genetics that made their way into the US during that 22-year window. Learn More
Keeping Track of Lineages
Today, domestic breeding programs are carefully tracked and cattle are registered to confirm their authenticity as American Wagyu. Crowd Cow verifies each cattle's lineage to guarantee customers are getting genuine Pure Wagyu and Wagyu cross meat. Pure Wagyu — close to or 100% Kuroge Washu — has more of the sweet umami flavors associated with the breed, while a Wagyu-Angus cross carries more beefy, robust flavors.
What Makes Wagyu Different?
Genetics are only one factor behind great-tasting beef. Different climates, feeds and ranching practices also create variation in the meat. In all environments, provided that the animal is raised stress-free with good nutrition, Wagyu’s signature marbling and intense flavor will shine through. It’s why Crowd Cow visits, vets, and partners with ranches that provide the best conditions to their animals — to ensure the best practices for the highest-quality cuts.