The Wonderful World of Wagyu
Published on Tue, 02/16/2016 - 12:59pm
Tucked in the beautiful fertile land of Gypsum Valley, outside of Salina, Kansas, the Gypsum Valley Wagyu farm is a family-run entity that is making an impact on the Wagyu cattle-breeding arena throughout the nation. What started as a family farm by Dr. Jerry Cossette in 1985, has grown into a leading edge, Wagyu cattle breeding entity.
It was in 2008, six years after Jack Cossette joined his brother Jerry’s efforts in running a high-quality farm and cattle operation, that the two brothers attended the Lone Mountain Sale in New Mexico. At this sale, Jack and Jerry purchased a large selection of Wagyu genetics. Since that time, the brothers have worked diligently to incorporate different Wagyu bloodlines into their bull operations, while also utilizing full blood Wagyu embryos. Their goal? To create the industry’s next Wagyu super bull or cow.
Today, Gypsum Valley Wagyu offers full blood Wagyu bulls, semen, embryos, and has confirmed 60 pregnancies using F1 Wagyu heifers as receipts. Their farm team consists of Dr. Casey Barten, DVM, Tod Eland, marketing director, and Thomas Anderes, herdsman.
“Our herds consist of commercial Angus herd, full blood Wagyu and pure blood Wagyu cattle,” says Jack Cossette. According to the American Wagyu Association, “Wagyu a number of economically important traits in addition to finely marbled beef. Wagyu beef has a tendency to be tenderer than most breeds of beef and has better flavor because of its fatty acid composition. Wagyu and crossbred Wagyu animals have higher monounsaturated fatty acids and high percentage Wagyu have about 2:1 ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids are healthier than saturated fats. Wagyu fat has a better flavor and a lower melting point than fat in common breeds of beef cattle. Wagyu bulls have excellent libido and are superior to other breeds for calving ease. Breeding Wagyu bulls to first calf heifers saves money and veterinary bills and results in heifers breeding back earlier. Half Wagyu progeny can bring a premium price at weaning.”
“All of our Wagyu bulls have been bred to produce fine marbling and excellent beef quality,” Cossette says. “Our bulls’ greatest gift is improving meat quality across all grades and that means premium return. Quite simply, Wagyu bulls have structure and longevity.”
As Gypsum Valley Wagyu has grown over the years, so too has the farm’s need for extra space to meet the farm’s increasing efforts in the embryo and AI areas for the Wagyu herd. That led the Cossettes to build a new facility directly on the farm, allowing their veterinarian to handle the AI or embryo work onsite.
The Cossette’s are very involved in all aspects of Wagyu breeding, including working closely with their customers who purchase their bulls, embryos, and semen products.
“This allows us to be more personally involved with our customers,” Cossette says. “Before we sell our product, I like to determine what their plans are and how I can help down the line. I want repeat customers. I want them to be successful, and I will help in way to make that happen as long as they are being realistic.”
To provide exceptional dietary options for their Wagyu cattle, Gypsum Valley Wagyu raises all of their own corn, sorghum, alfalfa, prairie hay and brome grass. In addition, none of their cattle are fed using growth hormones or antibiotics.
“There are new challenges every day in this business,” Cossette says. “Where we live the weather plays a big part in raising cattle. We have gone through a three-year drought to then experience abundant rainfall. Our weather can go from 70 degrees to 20 below wind chill in one day—but that's Kansas.”
Weather aside, one of the biggest challenges the Cossette’s face in the Wagyu business is planning.
Cossette sees nothing but a positive future for the Wagyu cattle industry. “We will continue to produce full-blood Wagyu bulls for the commercial cattle industry. I think the cattle industry in our region will continue to grow. I believe whoever adapts to the trends of the market will continue be successful. Customers want to know the origin of the beef they purchase, especially when the trend is to eat higher quality beef,” Cossette says. “What we do now is what we are going to have available to sell four years down the road. Take countries like China and India that now are looking for high quality beef for the upper middle class population. Calculate those numbers—there is no way we can produce that amount of beef, so the demand will always be there.”