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Takeda Breeding Rotation [ Compatibility Mode ]

ONE of the most influential suppliers of Wagyu genetics to Australia, Shogo Takeda, says a preoccupation with selection for marbling at the expense of other valuable commercial traits could slow the fullblood industry’s rate of progress in this country. Eighty-year-old Mr. Takeda comes to Australia twice each year from his Takeda Farm breeding headquarters in Hokkaido to visit with clients who use Takeda genetics in their breeding programs. On his most recent visit coinciding with October’s AWA conference, he traveled as far south as Mayura Station in South Australia, to Total Livestock Genetics near Camperdown (which stocks Takeda genetics), and as far North as Queensland where he visited Maydan feedlot and the progressive Western Downs Wagyu breeders group at Chinchilla. Asked whether he had seen improvement in Wagyu cattle during the ten year period he had been visiting Australia, he said many people had researched Wagyu genetics carefully, leading to major improvement in the cattle generally. Fullblood breeders now had a much better understanding of different Wagyu genetics.  

However too many were still focusing too heavily on marbling, at the expense of other important traits. “Tajima, Tajima, Tajima,” he said, with understated effect. In some herds, framescore was getting smaller and smaller as a result. “What I have witnessed on this trip, is that those fullblood breeders who have followed the Takeda Wagyu rotational breeding plan are producing more balanced cattle, and are doing very well.” Under Mr. Takeda’s four-stage rotational breeding plan (see summary below), the emphasis is put on building framescore first, and then marbling. Mr. Takeda maintains that a breeding program based on his rotation is likely to delivery the best overall profitability in the long term. (See his rotation plan in graphic) 

Mr. Takeda’s fullblood breeding rotation plan

Mr. Takeda’s fullblood breeding rotation plan

* Within each of the four groups, some variation exists between sires.
* F1 breeders should use sires from Groups ‘B’ and ‘D’ only.

“Super size, good marbling, good milk production, and good calf raising ability are the keys to success in Wagyu breeding! For each of group, I have listed the traits in order of priority and significance.” By Mr.. Takeda 

Mr. Takeda warned that the rotation had to be performed in the appropriate direction and sequence, otherwise the results were greatly inferior. Calves produced at the end of the program carried the balanced package of bigger frame, good A5 type marbling, good milk production and good mothering ability. He also said that breeders could carry out a similar rotation using bulls from the four groups other than his own Takeda genetics animals.  

One of the current limitations of the program in Australia is access to suitable ‘C’ group sires. Breeders could use TF147 Itoshigefuji for one rotation as a group C bull, but for the second rotation, another bull was recommended. However Mr. Takeda has interesting plans to develop more bulls for Australia from the very limited supply of Kedaka line genetics. In Australia and the US, the Kadaka line is represented by only three bulls – TF151 Itozurudoi, and AA Co’s bulls Hirashigetayasu J2351 (001) and Shigefuku J1822 (005). No further genetics were likely to be made available from Japan. So far as Takeda’s own Kedaka line access is concerned, in the past three years it had become very difficult to collect semen from TF151 Itozurudoi. As a result, Mr. Takeda has started a reproduction program in the US harvesting cells from TF151 to produce cloned bull offspring carrying identical genetics, but also carrying the ability to produce good quality semen. If the program goes to plan, the first young cloned bulls will be available for use in 2008. “Without a good Kedaka bull like 151, breeders are unable to complete the Takeda breeding rotation,” he said.  

Asked whether he was concerned about higher feedgrain prices worldwide, and whether this would put more pressure generally on selecting Wagyu with better feeding performance, Mr. Takeda said to some extent this was already happening. “I was surprised to see how expensive grain prices have become in Australia –probably 20 per cent higher than they are in Japan for imported grain from the US,” he said. Prices were also rising in the US, however, due to competition from ethanol production, up about 40 per cent. Because of what is happening around the world with grain prices, Mr. Takeda has changed his fullblood feeding program using cattle bred from the Takeda rotation, placing more emphasis on growth rate to reduce the feeding period. To achieve that, cattle are grown out to 550kg liveweight at 15 months of age using mainly hay and silage, plus some grain. From 15 to 24 months of age, a higher grain ration is used to finish cattle to 800kg liveweight. Mr. Takeda said under conventional programs, four tonnes of grain was required to finish a Wagyu feeder animal over the whole feeding period. But under his program this year, he has reduced that figure by 25 percent, to three tonnes, without negatively impacting on marbling, delivering a minimum Japanese marbling score of 7+ (equivalent to Australian BMS 10+) and carcase weights above 500kg. Contingent on this performance was the need to use hay and silage of high quality – 15pc protein or higher in both. Asked whether other breeders/feeders in Japan were also putting emphasis on better average daily gain, he said at this stage, he thought he was alone, but that might change. Asked about his opinion of the value of the Japanese GH Exon and SCD marbling and fat tests as a selection tool discussed by some breeders during the AWA conference, Mr. Takeda said in Japan, many breedersdid not really rely on such tests. “But in Australia I have noticed that some people seem to be placing greater importance on them. For some selection it may be a useful tool, but perhaps there is too there is nothing wrong with selling beef as ‘Australian-produced Wagyu’. Ultimately the consumer will decide.” However Australia should work to educate the Japanese consumer how the ‘Kuroge Washu’ (Japanese black-hair) cattle could legitimately be produced in Australia, pointing to the history of export to the United States, proven through DNA testing and registration, which had later been acknowledged and accepted by the Japanese Government. A similar pedigree proving process should apply to Australia. He also urged Australia to develop a pedigree certificate guarantee on the sire side for all F1 cattle, as well as for fullbloods. Such an F1 system already existed in Japan, but not in Australia, and it could help underpin cattle prices for F1 breeders. This would provide more confidence for Japanese customers, and give the product greater integrity. Mr. Takeda said he was not surprised to learn there were now 60,000 Wagyu (F1- fullblood) on feed in Australia, saying he thought the figure might be even higher. “But it could grow ten times larger, and still Australia would not be able to meet the demand for Wagyu beef,” he said, confidently.


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