Texas home to rare Japanese cattle

Akaushi cattle survived quarantine, slaughter attempts

By Charles Gonzalez - Anchor/Reporter

HEARTBRAND RANCH, Texas - A 90-minute drive East of San Antonio, through winding back roads eventually gets you to the Heartbrand Ranch, which is home to Akaushi cattle from Japan.

"What they're known is for their really high marbling, really good quality and flavor of beef," said Jordan Beeman, president of Heartbrand Beef. "Also their unique health aspects."

Twenty years ago, a trade loophole was found that helped bring the cattle to America.

"They were able to get the cattle applied for quarantine and get a bill of sale all within 24 hours," Beeman said.

The original eight cows and three bulls survived two years in quarantine and even survived slaughter attempts.

WATCH: Part 2: Texas home to rare Japanese cattle

"We have the only herd of Akaushi cattle that have ever left Japan so there were a lot of attempts to try to kill the cattle somehow or maybe poison them to keep them from reproducing," said Beeman.

Security has only taken a back seat to breeding. Every calf born has its DNA recorded, creating an online family tree.

"If someone ever was to pop up and say they have Akaushi cattle, we have the DNA of all of our cattle so we're able to track it back to one of our herd," Beeman said.

"There's lots of science that goes into what you're trying to accomplish," said JoJo Carrales, head of live cattle operations for Heartbrand.

It took about fourteen years to raise enough cattle to go to market. Now, thanks in large part to science, each cow can have up to twelve calves a year.

"We really didn't start selling a whole lot of meat until about 2008. That's when the meat started really getting pushed," said Beeman.

The purebred cattle now number about 6,000 but their numbers are now growing through cross breeding programs.

"I really believe the Akaushi is the 'X' factor not only in a consistent quality cut of meat but also the health benefits," said Bubba Bain, president of the American Akaushi Association which helps oversee breeding.

For a list of recent stories Charles Gonzalez has done, click here.

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