Wagyu beef in Iowa

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Nov 2, 2006
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New kind of beef for Cherokee
Thursday, May 7, 2009
Story and Photos by Sarah Gengler, Correspondent

I just saw this article yesterday. I'm about 1/2 hour from Cherokee. BTW, one of the owners is Adam Timmermann, he played (plays?) pro football. He was a lineman with the Packers and St Louis and won a couple rings. He's bought a lot of farmground around Cherokee and always intended to come back and farm. He owns part of a big JD business too. His dad was killed in a 4wheeler accident a few years ago.

Reggie, a 98 percent full bred Wagyu bull, hangs out in one of the back cow pens on the Cherokee County Beef LLC farm. Photo by Sarah Gengler
[Click to enlarge]
Beef month brings about a whole new kind of beef for the Cherokee area, with a group of six local men creating a limited liability corporation to expand the Cherokee County Beef LLC.
Terry Graybill, Ron Wetherell, Doug Stowater, Adam Timmerman, Shane Graybill and Steve Ruden have teamed up to raise American Wagyu beef cattle which is a specialty breed not often found in the United States. Wagyu meat is world known and has been raised by Japanese for as long as research can find. The men in Cherokee decided to start raising the American Wagyu after attending an Iowa 82 meeting a few years back.

"Iowa 82 represents the 82 smallest counties in Iowa," Terry said. "The guy doing the presentation told us the counties that were thriving had one of three things. They either had a lake, a four lane highway or they raised a lot of cattle."

A new born Wagyu baby heifer stares at the camera during pictures out at the Cherokee County Beef LLC farm Tuesday evening. Photo by Sarah Gengler [Click to enlarge]
After realizing that the lake and four lane highway were not options in Cherokee a few of the men started researching cattle to find what they should invest not only their time into but also their finances.

"If you're going to raise cattle, why not figure out how to get more money for those cattle," Terry Graybill said.

With that attitude, the group decided to invest in Wagyu beef cattle and hasn't looked back. In 2007, Terry hooked up the trailer and went to Burwell, Neb., where they bought a 98 percent full blood bull named Reggie, from Morgan Ranch. Shortly after breeding Reggie with some of their own livestock to get what they call half-breeds, Terry made another trip back to Morgan Ranch to purchase four half-breed Wagyu heifers.

This is a view of the grain of the meat. All the fat you see there is collagen, which, when cooked, will break down and make the meat incredibly tender and juicy.
[Click to enlarge]
"It's a 14 hour road trip. It's a long day," Terry laughed. "It's two-lane highway all the way, dragging a horse trailer. My wife went with me only once."

But the combination of half-breed heifers and a 98 percent pure Wagyu bull brought some three quarter pure breeds into their herd. For the partnership, the more Wagyu style of meat the better. Wagyu meat has world-renowned marbling characteristics that present a healthy alternative to traditional beef, along with enhanced flavor, tenderness and juiciness for which Wagyu beef is known. It is that way because the meat contains more mono saturated fats (or good fats) than saturated fats (or bad fats).

"So if there is such a thing as healthy beef, this would be it," Graybill stated."They are also raised without steroids."

The business has just continued to grow slow but sure from there. The group of men found Dr. Jerry Reeves in Washington State last year, who liked the fact that they are trying to get the Wagyu name out. He sold the men four full breed heifers and some semen straws to use in artificial insemination that is now producing the group's first round of full breed calves.

A thin slice of American Wagyu shows the fine marbled fat. This beef has a higher fat content. According to Penn State University, "Wagyu beef has significantly higher ratios of monounsaturated fats over saturated fats compared to commodity beef." [Click to enlarge]
All in all the LLC has approximately 20 Wagyu cattle of varying degrees of Wagyu in them and now they are just waiting to have a group to ship off to Premier Proteins in Kansas City where they will be butchered for sale.

"It's been a long, long process and a lot of money," he said, "but it's been worth it."

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