Australian Wagyu Forum

Japanese Feedlots

Most Japanese Fullblood feeders are finished by individual farmers rather than commercial feedlots. Farmers frequently combine rice cultivation, vegetable growing and beef cattle production. A typical large commercial Japanese feedlot contains about 500 cattle. A very large establishment might run to 15,000 head. Feeders are typically housed in close-sided barns with firm, sawdust-covered floors. Many smaller feeder barns are the size of an ordinary Japanese house.

Pen groups of 1-10 head are smaller than on most Australian feedlots to help regulate individual feed intake and reduce stress. Fullblood groups tender to be smaller than F1 groups. The number of square metres allocated per animal varies in Japan, compared with an Australian standard of about 12 m2. Feed consumption is highly controlled through out feeding period but water is available ad libitum. Fullblood feeder calves enter Japanese feedlots at about nine months of age and spend up to 600 days on feed.

Rations evolve through Starter, Grower and Finisher mixes. Weight gain commences at about 0.6 ADG to 12 ~15 months of age, then increases to 1.0 ADG to 18~20 months of age then reduces to 0.8 ADG at finishing. At about 28-31 months of age for fullbloods and about 27 months for crossbreds, feeders are slaughtered at facilities maintained by Japanese public authorities. Each carcass is assessed by JMGA inspectors and auctioned on an individual basis.

Buyers are able to inspect each carcass in chiller facilities prior to the auction and are provided with full details including Feedlot name, Carcass pedigree, Age, Sex, Weight and Grade.  Carcass auctions are most frequently managed within the public abattoir system. Only registered brokers (buyers) can attend this carcass auction, acting as intermediaries to the retail, food service and trade channels.