Fullblood Rotation Program
This program is universally adopted by Wagyu breeders to ensure sustainability of the breed from the closed genetic base. The principle is to cross cows from Frame sires to Marbling sires. Cows from Marbling sires are joined to Frame sires.
Compliance with the rotation reduces the dangers of inbreeding within the narrow genetic base – unless linebreeding or focusing on select lines. In addition, by switching between frame and marbling in each generation, the temptation to select consistently for one trait is also avoided. The 16/16 analysis is applied to the herd and animals are sorted into one of four Groups. Final selection for joinings - either manually or by TGRM - is done by phenotype, EBVs and the presence of recessive genetic conditions.
Mr Shogo Takeda advocated the Fullblood Rotation Program as he was concerned that too much selection pressure was being applied towards one trait. The original 16/16 classification system has changed and Wagyu International has adopted the more modern approach. Refer to the various strains of Black Wagyu on the Wagyu page, click here. Academics have different interpretations of the prefectural classification but whichever one you use, you should adhere to it. Bulls were sold after the performance test was concluded and were called by the prefecture that they were sold to - such as Yasufuku Gifu. Yasufuku Miyazaki was sired by Tayasu Doi. I am guided by learnings from the Kenichi Ono books and others papers that I have translated. I have also rearranged the less common strains so classification into four groups by prefecture group aligns with bGH profiles in Japan and also confirmation from results in Germany. After several generations under the Rotation, the original prefectural classification is not so distinct so after the initial 16/16 or prefectural classification has been made, final decision is determined by predicted breeding values.
Large size, excellent maternal and good marbling sire
Itozakura, Fujiyoshi (also called Shimane) & Okayama lines exhibiting maternal traits
Small size, best marbling and poor maternal sire
100% to high Tajima with highest marbling EBVs
Large size, excellent maternal and good marbling sire
Tottori & Hiroshima prefectures which comprise Kedaka, Touhou substrains; and exhibiting maternal traits
Medium size, strong marbling and average maternal sire
High Tajima, including Kumanami line with strong marbling EBVs
Details and more information about leading sires in each Group:
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 more recently 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.
Foundation Itomichi 1/2 is the grand-son of Dai 7 Itozakura so is Group A for the rotation. Breedplan EBVs for Itomichi 1/2 have high accuracy from 50 carcase progeny and are illustrated below for a quick reference:
Estimated breeding values from Breedplan are shown in white bars. Those to the left are 'maternal' and associated with growth and milk, while those to the right are 'carcase' traits. EBVs that are above the midpoint are considered to be favourable for each animal.
The Australian Wagyu Association has recently published Indexes from ABRI Breedplan and they are the Self Replacing $Index, the Fullblood Terminal $Index and the F1 Terminal $Index which are illustrated here in red bars. The new Self Replacing Breeding $Index estimates the genetic differences between animals in net profitability per cow joined in a commercial Fullblood or Purebred self-replacing herd. Heifers are retained for breeding and steers and surplus females are sold as feeders for feedlot finishing. The Fullblood Terminal $Index estimates the genetic differences between animals in net profitability per cow joined in a commercial Fullblood or Purebred self-replacing herd in which all progeny are sold as feeders for feedlot finishing. The F1 Terminal $Index estimates the genetic differences between animals in net profitability per cow joined for an F1 production system using Wagyu bulls and non-Wagyu females where all progeny are sold as feeders for feedlot finishing.
To assist overseas readers, weightings to the characteristics that are either 'Maternal' or 'Carcase' have been applied by Wagyu International to produce two distinct indicators. The first is the Maternal indicator which is primarily driven by growth, size, milk, fertility and low birth weight. It is shown in the yellow bar to the left of centre. Next to it, also in yellow, is the Carcase indicator which is a weighted economic integer from marble score, IMF%, marble fineness, eye muscle area, backfat, etc.. These charts give a quick visual impression, but the details of each animal should be viewed on the Australian Wagyu Association website as accuracies should also be considered jointly with the EBVs.
Another foundation sire from Takeda's herd, Itohana 2 is grand-son of Dai 7 Itozakura a and Group A sire:
Both Itohana 2 and Itomichi 1/2 have particularly strong milk, fertility and early fattening attributes with average or above average growth.
Kenhanafuji is another Group A sire with 75% Itozakura with Fujiyoshi and the balance is Kedaka with 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.
100% Tajima and high Tajima content comprise the marbling sires in Group B.
Yasufuku became a celebrated Tajima sire in Japan. He is from Hyōgo prefecture but he was sold to Gifu prefecture so until recently was documented as Yasufuku Gifu.
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:
Group CThere 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 so is clasified "Touhou", and not Kedaka, but is nevertheless classified as Group C.
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 sire called Kedaka. A Hyogo sire on his progeny test produced higher results but Dai 20 Hirashige was used extensively in rotations. He died of old age at 19 years and this was a redeeming feature of this high growth sire.
Hirashigetayasu "001" is the son of Dai 20 Hirashige and his semen has been used extensively in the Fullblood rotation Group C. There are 2,963 offspring registered by the Australian Wagyu Association. Data from 1,851 have been analysed in Breedplan and they include 93 carcase records. His EBVs are charted below, together with several other Group C sires:
Shigeshigenami was born in Hyogo 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 Hyogo 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.
Foundation sire Itoshigetani TF148 was exported by Mr Shogo Takeda and he is son of Shigeshigenami. He is 75% Kumanami Tajima and 25% Fujiyoshi so is in Group D as a leading marbling sire. With 4,297 registered progeny in Australia, his EBVs are illustrated below from 1,850 analysed progeny, including 287 carcasses.
Haruki II is 50% Tajima from Monjiro as his sire and 25% Kedaka so he is often used in feedlots on the maternal side.He has 1,481 registered progeny in Australia
Selecting for F1, F2 and F3 crossbred production
Marbling sires from Group B and Group D are the most suitable candidates for terninal crossing with Wagyu. Sires in these groups are usually smaller in stature than the Frame sires so it is desirable to use medium to large base cows.
In circumstances when the base cows are medium to small is size, or light in milk production, due to selection for suitability under local environmental conditions, etc., then a Group A or C sire should be used as the first cross. A Group B or D sire would then be used for the terminal cross over the F1 dam.
Base animals with a high Bos indicus content also benefit from a Group A or C sire and then the F2 are ideal for the market from a marbling Group B or D sire.
Trent Bridge F115 is an example of a Group D terminal sire that is ideal for crossing for F1, F2 or F3. He is 75% Tajima from sire Itoshigenami and maternal grand-sire Kitateruyasu Doi so his genomic EBVs confirm his breeding merit. He is in the Top 5% for Marble score (IMF%) and Marble fineness, and in the Top 10% for Eye myscle area EBVs. For those who like ABRI/AGBU Dollar Indexes, he is in the Top 5% for the Self Replacing Index, Fullblood Terminal Index and F1 Terminal Index. Comprising 21% Fujiyoshi and 3% Kedaka, Trent Bridge does not have the very heavy antagonism for growth and milk that is common with most extremely high content Tajima/marbling sires. With very low Birth weight EBVs, heifers can be opened using Trent Bridge F115 semen. Semen is in stock in Australia, Frankfurt and Ireland and approved for export to OIE countries - USA, EU, South Africa, New Zealand and many South America countries. The balanced EBV profile is illustrated below: