We conduct several genetic tests on our breeders, among others – meat marker tests. These are supposed to enable us to pass a high meat quality to the offspring owing to specific mating.
These tests are conducted for us by the company Agrobiogen.
Exon 5 (bGH)
This test differentiates between multiple variants of the growth hormone’s gene of cattle (also known as somatotropin). The growth hormone has an impact on the growth of cattle and the deposition of fat (marbling) of the skeleton muscle. In this growth hormone’s gene, two mutated points were found, the structure (polymorphism) of which influences the rates of these processes. Six gene variants result: AA, AB, AC, BB, BC, and CC. The doubling occurs due to the mother’s and father’s genetic copy. Although Wagyu being a Japanese breed, there has been various hybridization with breeds outside of Japan during its formation. The gene variant A has been introduced into Wagyu recently by crossbreeding with cattle from Western countries. Variant B is of unknown origin but has been part of the genetic information of Wagyu for a long time already. Variant C is considered the original Wagyu. Therefore, the preferred gene variant in breeding is CC, followed by BC and BB.
Stearoyl CoA Desaturase (SCD)
The fat of cattle is largely composed of six main fatty acids. Within these fatty acids, one of the saturated fatty acids is stearic acid. A high amount of it increases the fat’s melting point, thus making it harder. The enzyme Stearoyl CoA Desaturase (SCD) changes stearic acid into oleic acid. Olive oil in an example of a product that has abundant unsaturated oleic acid. Both the textural experience and its wholesomeness make a higher rate of oleic acid in meat desirable for the consumer. The rate to which stearic acid is transformed by SCD is influenced by variations within the enzyme’s gene. The resulting SCD variants are termed AA and VV, AA is preferred, though. The mixed type AV occurs when only one parent transmitted the A variant to the animal concerned (which corresponds to a carrier in case of a genetic disorder). A represents the desirable type (low melting point). AA animals are therefore the best ones.
Tenderness is an essential criterion for a customer’s satisfaction. It has been scientifically proven that incorporating certain variants of these genetic features into the breeding of cattle contributes to increasing meat quality. The most common texture analysis method for meat tenderness is the Warner-Bratzler-Shearforce-Measurement test, which is applied to a cooked piece of meat of larger groups of animals. Although the Wagyu breed has not been specifically tested for the development of the markers, it can be assumed that they may be of interest to Wagyu breeding, too, since positive effects have been measured in various cattle breeds. However, we would like to point out that meat tenderness is affected by multiple biological factors (complex succession), which cannot entirely be detected by these tests. It is moreover advisable to consider as many features in the herd as possible, as well as their living conditions, in order to breed successfully overall. With this test, meat tenderness is scored on a 1-10 scale, with 10 corresponding to the most tender meat.