Scots to produce Kobe beef

Scottish farmers have started to cross Aberdeen Angus cattle with Japanese Wagyu cattle in the hope of creating some of the world’s most expensive beef.

Up to 700 Scots-Japanese calves are due next spring on dozens of farms in Caithness, north-east Highlands, in one of the biggest cattle breeding initiatives in the UK.

The Wagyu beef, prized for its deeply marbled appearance, will be exported to Japan where imports are cheaper than home-reared Wagyu. Japanese cattle are pampered with massages to help create the marbling, and beer or sake is added to their feeding regime.

John Sutherland, MD of Caithness Beef and Lamb, spotted the potential for breeding Scottish Wagyu after visiting a stud farm for the ancient Japanese breed in Australia, and recently started a breeding programme in this country. He plans to open a new meat works later this month, where the animals will be slaughtered and finished in the traditional Wagyu style when they are just over two years old. Sutherland also plans to produce Wagyu steaks, burgers and sausages for the UK market.

Said Sutherland: “We hope to build up a big herd and are eventually aiming to process 10 cattle a week, with most of it destined for the UK market. We also think we will get the price of the processed meat down a bit compared to the Wagyu served in Japan and are confident that the quality will be comparable.”

The finished price in Japan for a 500kg Wagyu heifer is about £3,000, while a 7oz steak in a Tokyo restaurant costs about £90.

Farmer Danny Coghill, of Stemster Mains farm in Caithness, said: “Some people are laughing about this, but it’s something totally different and I’ve got nothing to lose by trying something new.”