The best Tsubetsu Wagyu in Japan-The Sakota brothers victorious
Sakota Takashi (44) and Sakota Satoru (36) are brothers and producers of “Tsubetsu Wagyu” in Okhotsk region’s Tsubetsu Town. They won the top prize at a national competition over black hair wagyu meat quality: the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award. Smiling at their second victory following their FY 2017 win, they said, “We’re so happy to be the best in Japan. And we hope this can shine a spotlight on Tsubetsu Town as well.”
This year’s national competition was held in November at the Tokyo Central Meat Wholesale Market by the Federation of National Livestock Agriculture Cooperative Associations. In the black hair wagyu steer category that the Sakota brothers entered, the competition consisted of 65 steers entered from 13 prefectures including Hokkaido, Miyagi, and Okinawa. Entries were judged on meat quality and marbling.
The Tsubetsu beef cow that the Sakota brothers raised was 29.9 months old and 895 kilograms in body weight. The meat quality grade was certified as A5, the highest grade. According to the Federation of Associations, the entry garnered high praise because the meat color and fat quality were excellent, and the beef had a luxuriously plentiful spread of intricately thin marbling lines.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, wagyu producers are generally categorized as either “breeding farmers” who raise newborn calves until they are 8-10 months old and send them to livestock markets or “beef cattle farmers” who purchase calves at markets, raise them until around 20 months of age, and send them to meat markets.
However, the Sakota brothers take a different route. They kept a mother cow for breeding, and then raised the offspring for meat in a “total farming” format. Takashi explained, “There is meaning in having the calves think of us as their parents. We shower love on them all through their childhood, up until they become adults, and raise them in a relaxed way in the same Tsubetsu environment their entire lives.”
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