After he inherited a farm from his father-in-law in Japan 40 years in the past, Hiroo Takeuchi was milking 50 cows.
At this time, the farmer runs a highly-intensive combined enterprise, referred to as ‘Rich Farm’, with 900 Wagyu cattle and 1,000 Holstein Friesian cows on two farms throughout 40ha, and he has plans to develop additional.
Positioned in Tochigi, north of Tokyo, it’s a part of a gaggle of so-called ‘mega-farms’ within the area serving the sturdy demand for liquid milk from the capital metropolis.
The dairy and beef animals on each farms are housed year-round in sheds with followers to maintain them cool in hotter months.
As a part of a latest go to to the farm with Bord Bia, Agriland additionally joined the farmer as he offered inventory in an area mart specialising within the well-known Wagyu breed.
You possibly can try the farm and mart by clicking on the video beneath:
Wagyu beef manufacturing focuses on weight, affirmation and, most significantly, the marbling within the meat.
Cattle are completed at 30 months and weigh round 850kg at slaughter. In some situations, the animals can tip the scales at 1t.
Takeuchi reported a kill fee of 68% and has set himself a goal of at the very least 550kg useless weight.
Relying on high quality, farmers will get a carcass worth of €20-30/kg.
Takeuchi famous that cull cows can obtain related costs to youthful steers.
The farmer additionally buys and sells the cattle at 20 months once they weigh round 550-600kg.
There are three employees on his Wagyu fattening farm, the place the animals are stored in pens lined with sawdust that’s combined with manure which ferments and sterilises the bedding.
The animals are intensively fed a mix of hay and focus. The farm is 25% self-sufficient for feed by means of rising maize, the remaining demand is met by importing soya bean, corn, hay and alfalfa from the US and Australia.
The typical price of Wagyu beef manufacturing is introduced every month for each prefecture or district within the nation.
If the market worth is beneath price of manufacturing, the Japanese authorities subsidises farmers to cowl as much as 80% of the distinction.
There aren’t any bulls on Takeuchi’s farms, the meat and dairy breeding is finished by means of synthetic insemination (AI).
Takeuchi was among the many first farmers in Japan to make use of embryo switch in his dairy herd as a way of boosting his Wagyu cattle numbers.
It’s a system that’s now generally seen in Wagyu manufacturing in Japan to make sure a gentle circulation of progeny for producers.
The farmer has 300 breeding Wagyu for calf and embryo manufacturing; 180 rear their very own calves, whereas 120 are used for embryos.
Each Saturday, an AI technician calls to the farm and flushes as much as 4 cows. Embryo assortment begins round two years of age and might proceed till the cow is 10 years previous, if the genetics are fascinating.
Wagyu cows rearing their very own calves could proceed breeding till 15 years of age.
Calves are weak and vulnerable to chilly climate when they’re born so require cautious administration and are stored collectively in a pen for as much as two months.
Bull calves are castrated at one-month-old, utilizing rubber rings.
Of the 80 calves born each month within the dairy herd, 30 are purebred Wagyu and there are round 25 dairy heifers for replacements.
The remaining 25 are ‘F1’ Holstein/Wagyu crossbred calves, that are offered at one month within the mart. The worth for such calves has halved to €700/hd this 12 months as a consequence of elevated feed prices.
40 employees are employed within the dairy operation the place the Holstein Friesian cows are milked 3 times a day.
Milk worth in Japan is historically set yearly following negotiations between farmer cooperatives and the dairy producer affiliation and is predicated on an average-sized farm of 50-60 cows.
Nonetheless, as a result of sharp improve in feed prices, the value is being elevated by 10 yen/L.
Takeuchi, who presently will get a web milk worth of 105 yen/L (0.73c/L), stated that the rise shouldn’t be sufficient to cowl the bounce in prices.
A visit to the mart
Agriland additionally joined the farmer as he introduced a gaggle of 10-month-old Wagyu weanlings to promote at a close-by mart.
The mart, which solely trades within the breed, hosts weanling gross sales twice monthly.
All autos coming into the mart yard had been sprayed with disinfectant as a part of a strict disease-control measures.
On the day Agriland visited, there have been tons of of animals being supplied on the market with a brisk commerce going down.
As soon as unloaded from the cattle lorries, the weanlings, weighing round 300kg, are put into pens.
A halter and particular person identification tag is then positioned on every of the animals that are lined up in keeping with their gross sales quantity.
The bullocks and heifers had been washed and groomed by the sellers earlier than being offered individually.
The weanlings entered into the gross sales ring on a pully system with a shifting chain the place their breeding is displayed on an digital board.
As soon as offered, the weanlings are taken to the loading space for transport.
Hiroo Takeuchi is presently in enlargement mode, creating a second dairy farm with a rotary parlour, together with shopping for extra land to develop his Wagyu fattening enterprise.
The Japanese authorities is presently discussing sustainability measures however no laws have but been positioned on farmers.
Slurry from Rich Farm is presently distributed to neighbouring holdings without spending a dime or at a nominal worth.