TOKYO, June 16 — Following the sudden death of legend breeding bull Fukunohime that led Japan’s wagyu production, all eyes are on which bull will succeed him for beef cattle producing regions to entrust their future to.
At the center of attention is Fukunohime-sired bull Fukunotsuru, while some producing regions pin hopes on locally-born bulls.
Fukunohime, which enjoyed overwhelming popularity nationwide for its ability to produce calves with high growth performance and carcass yield, died of acute heart failure on June 2 at the age of 10 years and 10 months.
Many beef producing regions have high expectations for Fukunotsuru, with a Hokkaido breeder saying, “I hope he will produce cattle that marble well like his father did.” A market dealer of Tochigi Prefecture said, “I’m sure he will thrive as a son (of Fukunohime).”
Fukunotsuru was selected by the Livestock Improvement Association of Japan in 2022. There is high demand for his frozen semen nationwide and supply cannot keep up with the demand, according to the association.
Fukunotsuru’s progeny are expected to be born in different producing regions starting this month.
In performance tests to select elite breeding bulls, Fukunotsuru marked an average of 9.8 in the Beef Marbling Standard (BMS) used to grade the amount and distribution of intramuscular fat, a record high score for cattle held by the association.
Fukunotsuru’s assessment score for fat quality, which is measured based on genetic information and determines the tenderness and flavor of wagyu beef, was higher than that of Fukunohime.
Many people in the industry believe Fukunohime’s progeny other than Fukunotsuru will also be selected as elite breeding bulls in the future.
In Hokkaido, where the number of cattle breeding farms which use Fukunohime’s semen is particularly high, there are strong expectations for Kitamitsuhisa, selected by Genetics Hokkaido Association in 2022.
Kitamitsuhisa’s BMS score in performance tests was 10.6 in average, record high among the cattle held by the Hokkaido association. His progeny, both males and females, are showing high growth performance.
Carcasses of his progeny are known for fine marbling and large loin core.
Hidekazu Takekuma, deputy chairman of the Hokkaido Wagyu Promotion Council, said, “Many breeders want to (use Kitamitsuhisa’s semen to) inseminate Fukunohime-sired cows.”
The semen of Wakayuri and Yasukametada, held by Kamibeppu Bulls in Kagoshima Prefecture, are also popularly used both in and outside the prefecture and are traded stably.
An official of the Miyagi livestock market in Miyagi Prefecture said, “Wakayuri’s semen is one of the most used except for those of breeding bulls held by the prefecture. Many orders are coming from cattle fattening farms.”