Texas, home of Akaushi breed continues expansion to meet consumer demands
Although the Longhorn may be an iconic Texas breed, a foreigner may be horning in on the action, since Akaushi, or Japanese red cattle, have been introduced in the Lone Star State.
In 1994, eight females and three males were brought to the HeartBrand Beef Ranch in South Texas, in an effort to produce highly marbled quality beef for the health-conscious consumer. Dr. Antonio Calles, who has a doctorate in genetics, has worked with the breed for many years and has developed 27 bloodlines from the original 11 unrelated lines.
The Akaushi breed is extremely uniform and consistent throughout its genetic lines for all maternal, performance, structural, fertility, carcass, and palatability traits. No single trait has been sacrificed to develop this breed.
Over the last 17 years, there have been approximately 7,000 head produced. Half of those have been utilized for meat production and research. The full-blooded herd in Texas consists of 3,000 females and 500 males.
HeartBrand and the American Akaushi Association’s focus is on utilizing the full-blooded bulls and semen to produce more halfblood carcasses. With today’s market -- based on yield and grade -- producers utilizing Akaushi in their herd can improve carcass merit, according to Bubba Bain, executive director of the American Akaushi Association.
If producers have “select” carcasses, the carcasses will increase to “prime” -- the highest quality grade -- using Akaushi cattle.
Bain said by using Akaushi, producers can double the grade and improve the yield on cattle they are bred to. HeartBrand has gathered carcass data on Akaushi crossed with Red Angus, Brangus, Beefmaster, Santa Cruz, Charolais, Hereford, and Black Baldies, all with extremely positive results.
Akaushi produces an exceptional product, Bain said, whether through a grass-fed or a conventional grain-fed program. Bill Fielding, CEO of HeartBrand Beef, is also promoting America’s newest breed. The 100 percent all-natural, hormone-free beef is a natural source of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). According to HeartBrand Beef’s website, “Studies in experimental models have shown CLA to slow the growth of a wide variety of tumors, including cancers of the skin, breast, and prostate.” Other research has shown CLA can assist with diabetes and help increase weight loss.
It has been observed that the Japanese culture does not have the health problems the United States has. The healthy source of protein provided by the Japanese cattle may play a role in this. Health benefits are also realized in beef from percentage blood cattle from the Akaushi breed.
As consumers demand a healthier, consistent, quality product, the Akaushi breed has found its niche with the health-conscious consumer. To this market, “We offer an alternative,” Bain said.
“Japanese Red” breed characteristics include:
•The dam’s moderate-size frame weighs 1,000 pounds. They have favorable milking ability with a small udder, leading to no teat issues, and no mastitis problems.
•The average bull weighs 1,700 to 1,800 pounds. Prices for full-blooded bulls range from $5,000 to $10,000 each.
•The calf’s birth weight of 65 to 75 pounds is below the industry’s acceptable standards. The breed’s trait of smaller calves leads to less stress at birth, due to the animal’s head/shoulder area.
•Weaning weights achieved at approximately 205 days: 500 to 600 pounds for full-blooded animals, with crosses weighing in at 600 to 700 pounds.