Fullblood Rotation Program

The Wagyu cattle breed has origins from such a small population that was originally exported from Japan that a Rotation has been advocated to ensure sustainability by segregating breeders into groups so that animals that are the most diverse are joined. Mr Shogo Takeda advocated a rotation because he was concerned that too much selection pressure for marbling in this new breed was resulting in a loss of size. Wagyu International has reviewed his objectives and implemented a more modern approach after also analysing trends in Japan.
The Founders that left Japan were related to leading sires at that time and many of those ancestors are evident in the pedigrees of the successful modern sires in Japan in present day.
53% of the genotype in the Founders' population trace back to the Hyōgo prefecture in Japan. They are recorded back to Nakadoi and subsequently through the celebrated sire Tajiri. The popular name used outside Japan for Wagyu from Hyōgo is "Tajima". Accordingly two out of the four groups in the rotation are Tajima because they made up half of the initial population. Those with the highest Tajima content, and co-incidentally, smaller size, are in Group B in the Wagyu International Fullblood Rotation (wiR). Group D has lower Tajima content and includes Kumanami Tajima. Despite variation within the Tajima lines, it is broadly considered to have higher marbling and overall carcass quality or better "carcass" traits. Wagyu with origins from the other prefectures have higher growth rate, size and some milk which are a legacy from the small window of crossbreeding more than 100 years ago. This type is considered to have "maternal" traits and they have been allocated in wiR according to a review of bovine Growth Hormone genotypes and their phenotypes in Japan.

To make it practical for breeders, the principle is to cross cows from Frame sires to Marbling sires. Cows from Marbling sires are joined to Frame sires.

Flow chart of Fullblood Rotation advocated by Wagyu International

Compliance with the rotation reduces the dangers of inbreeding. At its inception the analysis only went back a few generations so the Prefectural classification was also called the 16/16 analysis.

Sires were sometimes bought by other prefectures after the indirect (progeny) test results were published so site of registration is not always the site of genetic origin. Yasufuku J930 was sired by Yasutanidoi and was born in Hyōgo but after he was bought by Gifu prefecture he became known as Yasufuku (Gifu) 安福 (岐阜). Yasufuku (Miyazaki) 安福 (宮崎) was sired by Tayasudoi. Wherever possible, ancestors in Japan have been classified in wiR by their birth place and not by the prefecture in which they were registered.

There are a few different strains that originated from Tottori prefecture and there are several different offices in which registrations were processed. Kedaka-kei refers to the most popular line from Tottori prefecture and the sire that is named Kedaka was registered in Tottori.

Some of the original prefecture names have been replaced by others that have gained acceptance.

"Itozakura" is not a prefecture but it is a line that starts with Dai 7 Itozakura. He combines Shimane and Okayama prefectures with some Hyōgo that were combined by the birth of founder Dai 7 Itozakura.

"Fujiyoshi" is misleading because it is a line that goes to Dai 7 Itozakura so it ends there. When it is used in prefecure classification it often used for origins in Shimane prefecture.

Classification of Black Wagyu for Wagyu Rotation Program:

Group A
Large size, excellent maternal and moderate marbling sire
Itozakura, Shimane (Fujiyoshi) & Okayama lines exhibiting maternal traits

Group B
Small size, best marbling and moderate maternal sire
100% to high Tajima from Hyōgo often with highest marbling EBVs

Group C
Large size, excellent maternal including milk and moderate marbling sire
Tottori & Hiroshima prefectures which comprise Kedaka, Touhou substrains; and exhibiting maternal traits

Group D
Medium size, strong marbling and medium maternal sire
High Tajima, including Kumanami line with strong marbling EBVs

Details and more information about leading sires in each Group:

Group A

Dai 7 Itozakura Black Wagyu bull in Japan

The best example of a superior Frame sire for Group A is Dai 7 Itozakura. He was bred in Yokota in Shimane prefecture but does not descend from the Shimane line even though sired by Dai 14 Shigeru from Shimane. He descends from Dai 6 Fujiyoshi of the Fujiyoshi strain who was born in Okayama. Dai 7 Itozakura is generally considered to be the founder of the modern Itozakura line. His breeding attributes were size, temperament and social interaction.
He is sire to Itohana, Itomichi, Kitaguni 7-8 (amongst many others) in Japan and several descendants through the Foundation herd.

Estimated Breeding Values for Itohana 2 charted by Wagyu InternationalEstimated Breeding Values for foundation Black Wagyu sire Itomichi 1/2 charted by Wagyu InternationalEstimated Breeding Values for Black Wagyu Itomoritaka chart by Wagyu InternationalEstimated Breeding Values for Itoshigefuji charted by Wagyu InternationalEstimated Breeding Values for Itozuru Doi TF151 charted by Wagyu InternationalEstimated breeding values for Kenhanafuji the Wagyu foundation bull with high growth rate

The genomic EBVs are a powerful breeding tool for the Wagyu industry outside Japan. However, faction fighting within the Australian Wagyu Association which recently has been broadcast in the public domain, and differing views from ABRI and AGBU that control BREEDPLAN, an array of BreedObjective $Indexes have been published but none of them have fulfilled my requirements. Accordingly I use my own Wagyu International Maternal and Carcass Indicators for application in the Fullblood Rotation. For the conventional grain finishing after backgrounding on grass, a Wagyu International Grain Indicator is presented. Particular attention is made to profitability from efficient finishing. There is a large market around the world producing Wagyu off pasture and with increasing sustainability pressures this sector may increase. This segment relies more heavily on maternal traits and suitability is expressed by the Wagyu International Grass Indicator. The four Production Indicators are coloured red in the following charts.

tohana 2 is grand-son of Dai 7 Itozakura. Foundation Itomichi 1/2 is another grand-son of Dai 7 Itozakura so is also in Group A for the rotation. Breedplan EBVs for Itomichi 1/2 have high accuracy from 53 carcase progeny. He is Trait Leader for Milk and in the Top 10% for Carcass Weight but has very high backfat thickness with low retail yield and low EMA.

Kenhanafuji is another Group A sire with Itozakura with Shimane and the balance is Tottori. With excellent growth, the high subcutaneous fat thickness there is an associated high fertility expectation from strong scrotal size. Milk production and carcass traits will need attention.

Group B

100% Tajima and high Tajima content comprise the marbling sires in Group B.
Yasufuku became a celebrated Tajima sire in Japan and his name means "palace".

Yasufuku famous Black Wagyu sire in Japan posted by Wagyu International
He scored top position in his progeny test in 1984 and set a high standard of carcass quality. The detection of the recessive genetic condition CL16 prompted the integration of other lines to reduce the presence of the recessives. His prowess was proved with the endorsement of superior sons by their published predicted breeding values which exceeded those from Yasufuku.

The variability of marbling EBVs within Tajima sires is demonstrated in the following charts with published EBVs from Breedplan:

Estimated Breeding Values for Black Wagyu bull Fukutsuru 068 charted by Wagyu InternationalEstimated Breeding Values for Kikuyasu 400 charted by Wagyu InternationalEstimated Breeding Values for Kitateruyasu Doi charted by Wagyu InternationalEstimated Breeding Values for Black Wagyu Michifuku charted by Wagyu InternationalEstimated Breeding Values for Yasufuku Jr charted by Wagyu International

Fukutsuru J068 is popular in USA and Europe when he was ranked top for marbling EPDs by Washington State and subcutaneous fat thickness was amongst the highest too. 7 for tenderness and AA for SCD are also popular results. Carcass progeny and genomic EBVs are favourable for low birth weight, milk yield and fineness of marbling. Favourable flavour is expected from his sire in Japan.

Kikuyasu is popular in USA and Europe because of his high live weightbecause he was the heaviest Tajima bull. His genomic EBVs are low for growth when compared with the Wagyu breed in general but even though much lower than average for the breed, the early growth rate is only 25% below breed average, but it progressively declines. Progeny from Kikuyasudoi, his sire, also had low growth rate in Japan. Kikuyasu J400's strongest attributes from carcass progeny and genomic EBV are low birth weight, light subcutaneous fat thickness, high retail yield and good eye muscle area. Light growth rate in progeny requires an extremely long period of finishing.

Kitateruyasudoi has low growth EBVs which are typical for Tajima but the WI Maternal Indicator is only -25%. The carcass progeny and genomic EBVs confirm overall excellence in carcass traits. Fat quality should be favourable because progeny from his sire Terunagdoi have scored well in Japan. Kitateruyasudoi from the Westholme herd has always been a popular sire in the feedlot driven industry in Australia.

Progeny from Michfuku have always been popular amongst imports back to Japan because he is used over large frame cows but imparts exceptional carcas traits as illustrated by his carcass progeney and genomic EBVs in the chart above. Michifuku has the highest number of registered progeny in Australia for the highest Tajima content foundation sires.

Yasuku Jr has always been favoured by USA breeders so carcass data from USA has been submitted to Australian BreedPlan and his carcass quality is endorsed amongst the best for EMA, marble score and marble fineness. The number of registered progeny is comparatvely light in Australia, even though there are double the number there than in the USA.

Group C

There are four major substrains from Tottori Prefecture. They are Kedaka, Eikou, Touhou and Hana. One of the first four exports from Japan, Mazda, is from Tottori prefecture but has Touhou three times in his pedigree.
Dai 20 Hirashige is from Tottori prefecture from Kedaka blood so he is core to Group C because he has been used so extensively in Fullblood breeding. Both his sire and his mother's sire was the Kedaka bull called Kedaka. Kedaka has a maternal descendant from Hyōgo so he has some Tajima influence so that flows through his line but this is overlooked in some modern classifications. Dai 20 Hirashige was used extensively in Japan and even in pedigrees in modern sires, he has a strong presence.

Dai 20 Hirashige Kedaka Black wagyu sire in Japan posted by Wagyu International

Hirashigetayasu "001" is the son of Dai 20 Hirashige and his semen has been used extensively in the Fullblood rotation Group C.

Estimated Breeding Values for Hirashigetayasu chart prepared by Wagyu International

Group D

Shigeshigenami was born in Hyōgo prefecture. His father was Shigekananami and Shigeshigenami’s mother was also sired by Shigekananami.
Initially he had a low profile because his progeny were not the typical Hyōgo type offspring. However in 1985 he had sired the Grand and Reserve Grand Champion carcasses at the prestigious All Japan Carcass Competition so demand swung over to him. 30% of all offspring were from him in that year. 73% of all of his carcasses were in the highest grade. More than 100,000 carcases from Shigeshigenami had positioned the Kumanami bloodline as another bloodline within the Tajima strain. He died of old age.

Shigeshigenami Balck Wagyu bull posted by Wagyu International

Foundation sire Itoshigenami TF148 was exported by Mr Shogo Takeda and he is son of Shigeshigenami. He is strongly Kumanami Tajima and also Shimane so is in Group D as a leading marbling sire.

Estimated Breeding Values for Itoshigenami charted by Wagyu International

Haruki II is Tajima from Monjirō as his sire and also has Shimane so he is often used in feedlots on the maternal side.He has 1,481 registered progeny in Australia

Estimated Breeding Values for Black Wagyu bull Haruki II chart prepared by Wagyu International


There are many other bulls with high Tajima content and super sires are outperforming the Founders and subsequent generations.


Distribution of Wagyu lines

The most successful Foundation sires can be judged by the relative number of registrations in Australia and USA:

Registration numbers of progeny from Founder animals in Australia and USA as a percentage in each association as at August 2020 width=

With 5.5 times as many registrations in Australia as in USA, the numbers are expressed as percentages within each country so that the details within the USA herdbook can be viewed.

The following illustration gives a quick comparison of economic production traitts for the leading Founders of the Black Wagyu population:

Table with colour coding for quick refernce of triats for leading Balck Wagyu sires that were exported from Japan

The Trait Leaders are shaded in green and the gEBVs that are within the Top 25% of the Australian BREEDPLAN run of August 2020 are in yellow. Traits that are in the Lowest 15% of the population are shown in red.

The objective in animal breeding is to improve the breeding merit in every generation through the identification of superior young sires/dams. Mayura Itoshigenami Jnr had the highest marbling (IMF%) ebvs when the first Wagyu carcass ebvs were published in 2014:

Genomic estimated breeding values in a chart for superior Wagyu sire Mayura Itoshigenami Jnr

Subsequently EMA and marble fineness have proven exceptional from hundreds of carcass progeny but, apart from milk, the maternal traits have not been much below average so he has offered excellent carcass qualities without taking away too much growth. Only recently the next generation has outperformed his breeding merit.

Simon Coates of Sumo Cattle Company combined carcass with growth traits with Michifuku over Terutani 40/1 breeding and the powerful genomic EBVs and impressive Sumo Michifuku F154 have made his progeny highly sought after.

Wagyu International analysis of genomic EBVs for Sumo Michifuku F154 in a chart


The following year Simon produced another exceptional sire with Itoshigenami TF148 over Terutani 40/1 breeding with this superior balance in a Black Wagyu sire.

Coates Itoshigenami G113 an excellent Wagyu sire's genomic EBVs in a chart