About Saga beef

An introduction to the Saga beef brand

What is Saga beef?

A picture of Saga beef

With approximately 150 different beef brands in Japan, Japan Agriculture (JA) Saga is a reliable production region known for its ability to consistently supply buyers with high-quality beef.
Meat branded as Saga beef refers to meat from Japanese black cattle farmed and fattened under the supervision of the Saga branch of the JA Group that has a Beef Marbling Standard (BMS) of 7 or above and ranked at grades 4 or 5, corresponding with premium quality, on the meat quality scale used by the Japan Meat Grading Association. Meat from cattle farmed in the same way but which has a BMS rating of less than 7 is differentiated from Saga beef and branded as Saga-Wagyu beef.

Meat Quality Chart
*BMS (Beef Marbling Standard)

Delicious marbled beef with delicate strands of fat woven through soft and juicy red meat. Great for steaks and use in shabu-shabu hot pots. This delicious beef with a sweet, rich flavor is a product of the mild climate, clean water, and clear air that are unique to Saga prefecture. Furthermore, cattle farmed and fattened under the supervision of the Saga branch of the JA are raised and cared for with great affection and expert rearing technique. Special attention is paid to make sure the cattle do not experience stress from a young age, including taking great care in how and what they are fed.

About Saga crossbreed beef

Crossbreed refers to meat from beef cattle crossbred using quick rearing Holstein cattle (dairy breed), which produce a high percentage of red meat, as the cow and Japanese black cattle, which produce high-quality meat with a fine texture, as the bull.
Crossbreed beef produced from cattle farmed and fattened under the Saga branch of the JA Group is referred to as Saga crossbreed beef.
Crossbreed beef brings together the best of both Holstein cattle and Japanese cattle, resulting in a delicious meat with a soft texture.

An overview of the history of Saga beef

Year Main events Details
1983 The beginning of Saga beef Through much research, a group of young livestock farmers in the prefecture were able to produce beef with demonstrating a notable increase in meat quality and this became the standard for what we now call Saga beef.
1984 The name "Saga beef" is decided upon and sales begin Stickers with the name Saga beef were attached to beef carcasses sold at the Osaka-City General Meat Market, Inc. by JA groups in the prefecture.
1985-1987 The Saga beef brand penetrates the meat market It becomes evident that the quality of meat being produced in Saga prefecture is increasing and an increased amount of beef is put on the market as a result.
1988 Development of a policy for designated Saga beef retailers It is decided that the qualification required for certification as a designated retailer would be that the retailer consistently sold meat that was grade 5, the highest grade on the Japan Meat Grading Association meat quality scale, which was the standard for buying and selling of beef carcasses.
TV commercials advertising Saga beef begin to air With a focus on the Kansai region, television commercials begin to be used in an effort to break into the consumer market.
Sales copy:
"They already know about us in Kobe, but it's about time we let you know too: 'Saga beef.'"
Promotion of Saga beef through magazine and newspaper advertisements begins Advertisements in monthly publications, newspapers, and at train stations were used to target consumers.
Sales copy:
"Taste like no other: Saga beef."
"Saga beef - the taste we've all been looking for."
Year Main Events Details
1991 Formation of an association to promote the retail of Saga beef Progress continues towards the goal of increasing the number of designated Saga beef retailers in the prefecture. Saga Prefectural Office and the Saga Prefecture Association for the Fair Trade of Meat became members of the association.
1992 The Saga beef logo is submitted for trademarking  
1993 A new TV commercial begins targeting the Kansai and Kitakyushu regions A new commercial was created using Teruyoshi Uchimura from Utchan Nanchan, a comedy group that was incredibly popular with young people, as the commercial director.
Kira Saga Beef Restaurant opens Kira Restaurant, owned and operated by JA Saga, opens in Saga city.
1995 A new TV commercial begins targeting the Kansai and Kitakyushu regions The commercial featured Hiroyuki Sakai, the famous French Iron Chef.
1996 Progress is made in the designated Saga beef retailer policy It is decided that the qualification required for certification as a designated retailer would be that the retailer consistently sold meat that was grades 3 or 4 on the Japan Meat Grading Association meat quality scale, which was the standard for buying and selling of beef carcasses.
Year Main Events Details
1999 A new TV commercial begins targeting the Kansai and Kitakyushu regions The commercial featured vocalist Yoshinobu Kuribayashi.
2000 The Saga beef logo becomes a registered trademark  
Saga beef is chosen to be served at the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit. Saga beef is chosen as the meat to be served for dinner at a finance ministers' meeting during the Kyushu-Okinawa Summit which was held at Hotel Nikko Fukuoka on June 8, giving participants from each country a chance to enjoy its flavor.
2001 A new TV commercial begins targeting the Kansai and Kitakyushu regions The commercial featured CG recreations of cows and livestock farmers.
Saga beef is featured as a premium product on the highly popular Dotch Cooking Show.  
Mad Cow Disease outbreak Promotional materials were developed emphasizing that Saga beef was a safe product. Posters, pamphlets, informative displays, etc.
2002 Certificates are published for recognized JA Group Saga Beef Farms A clear traceability system that displays the production history of Saga beef was developed in order to increase trust and awareness of the safety of Saga beef amongst consumers. A "JA Group Saga Recognized Beef Producer" certificate containing beef production records and a photograph of the farmer began to be included with all beef shipments to retailers in an effort to increase differentiation in sales.
2003 Launch of the "News from Saga beef farms" website The website was created as part of the Saga branch of the JA Group meat safety system.
The aim of the website was to increase consumer awareness of the safety of Saga beef by introducing designated retailers and sharing information about the history of Saga beef.
Year Main Events Details
2004 Changes in the standards for Saga beef and Saga-Wagyu beef The Saga branch of the JA Group made changes to the standards for Saga and Saga-Wagyu beef carcasses as of the 1st of January 2004 in order to stabilize supply.
The standard for Saga beef is changed from beef with a meat quality of 5 and a Beef Marbling Standard (BMS) of 8 or more to beef with a meat quality of 4 and a BMS rating of 7, the highest grades on the scale.
2005 Launch of the mobile version of the "News from Saga beef farms" website This website was designed so that consumers could access it from their cellphones using a QR code and view details such as the production records for any beef purchased.
Opening of "Kira Ginza" Saga beef restaurant Kira Ginza Saga Beef Restaurant opens in Ginza, Tokyo.
2006 Saga beef is featured on The Heisei Education Committee and Dotch Cooking Show, both popular television shows.  
2007 Saga-Wagyu is trademarked as a local organization  
Overseas export of Saga beef begins Saga beef exports to Hong Kong begin.
Opening of "Kira Hakata" Saga beef restaurant Kira Hakata Saga Beef Restaurant opens in Hakata, Fukuoka.
2008 Saga beef exports to America begin Following on from Hong Kong, Saga beef begins to export to America.
Year Main Events Details
2009 Billboards advertising Saga beef are placed in seven locations around Japan The Saga beef consumer advertising committee organized billboards to be displayed in Hamamatsucho (Monorail), JR Shin-Osaka and JR Hakata stations as well as in Fukuoka Airport and Tosu Stadium, amongst other locations. The billboard read "Luxurious, premium: Saga beef."
Kira Tosu Yakiniku Restaurant opens on October 10  
2010 Saga beef exports to Macao begin
2011 Saga beef exports to Singapore begin Certification of the first designated Saga beef retailer in Singapore
2012 Saga beef exports to the United States recommence Exports of Saga beef to the United States started again in September after having been stopped due to an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Japan in 2010.

Information about how the highest grade beef cattle are fed

About compound cattle feed

Premium Saga beef compound feed
Premium Saga beef compound feed

Compound feeds contain a combination of various different ingredients designed to meet the nutrition needs of cattle and poultry that will be used for animal products.

About fodder other than compound cattle feed

Corn
Corn as a single ingredient feed

Here, we share some information about single ingredient, mixed, and fermented cattle feeds.

  1. Single ingredient cattle feed is fodder which is either given to livestock as is, or is used as an ingredient in compound or mixed feeds.
  2. Mixed cattle feed is feed that contains a mixture of two or three types of fodder.
  3. Fermented cattle feed refers to fodder made through the fermenting process.

What is coarse feed?

Saga rice straw
Saga rice straw

Coarse feed refers to fodder that is classified as highly nutritious and concentrated. It is high volume and high in crude fiber which gives the livestock a sense of fullness and contributes to bowel health.
Cattle feed can be categorized as falling under one of the following two types of feed depending on the nature of its ingredients.

  1. Those that have low water content and are high in crude fiber. Straw, grains, dried grasses, etc. This type of cattle feed is called coarse feed in some countries if it is comprised of 18% or more crude fiber.
  2. Those that have high water content. Fresh grasses, early-harvested crops, silage, root vegetables, etc. This variety of cattle feed is commonly referred to as succulent feed.

Saga beef (Wagyu) Feeding Target Control Chart

View the Saga beef (Wagyu) Feeding Target Control Chart

Types of fodder

Compound cattle feed

Premium Saga beef compound feed
Premium Saga beef compound feed
The Saga branch of the JA Group has approximately 10 varieties of basic compound feeds designed to produce premium Saga beef (feeds are numbered between 1 and 33), all differing from each other only slightly depending on the particular combination of ingredients. The ingredients used include corn, barley, bran, specialty bran, milo, soybean residue, rice bran, alfalfa meal, corn gluten meal, molasses, calcium carbonate, and salt, amongst other things.
New Ace 3 premium Saga beef mixed compound feed
New Ace 3 premium Saga beef mixed compound feed
This is a compound feed used for fattening cattle for meat. The ingredients used include corn, milo, barley, bran, soybean residue, rice bran, corn gluten feed, molasses, calcium carbonate, and salt, amongst other things.
Yutaka compound feed
Yutaka compound feed
This is a compound feed used for fattening cattle for meat. The ingredients used include corn, rye, bran, soybean residue, molasses, calcium carbonate, and salt, amongst other things.
Hikaru-1 mixed compound feed
Hikaru-1 mixed compound feed
This is a compound feed used for fattening cattle for meat. The ingredients used include corn, barley, wheat, rye, bran, barley bran, soybean residue, corn gluten meal, molasses, calcium carbonate, and salt, amongst other things.

Fodder other than compound cattle feed (single ingredient feed, silage, etc.)

Corn
Corn
Corn is the grain most commonly used in compound feed. It is high in starch and has a higher percentage of fat compared to other grains, so it is used as the main source of energy for the cattle.
Corn pellets
Corn pellets
Corn pellets
Corn pellets
Corn pellets are made by heating corn using steam and then breaking it down and compacting it into flakes. It is then dried and cooled.
There are two varieties of mixed compound feed: Mix A which contains 95% corn pellets and 5% alfalfa pellets) and mix B which contains 95% corn pellets and 5% barley bran pellets.
Barley
Barley
Barley
All barley used as fodder is purchased, stored, and treated by the Japanese government. Barely is fed to large cattle such as beef cattle and has been shown to improve meat quality.
Barely is usually fed to cattle in the form of pellets processed by applying pressure or meal, in which case it is processed into small granules.
Milo
Milo
Milo is a variety of sorghum and is a type of grain feed. It is high in starch and, like corn, is used as a source of energy in fodder as it is low in crude fiber.
Bran
Bran
Bran
Bran occurs as a byproduct of milling wheat into flour and is predominantly taken from the outer part of the wheat grain.
When a standard yield ratio (about 2%) of bran is produced during flour manufacturing it is called standard bran, whereas bran made with a higher quantity of flour in order to increase its nutritional value as fodder is referred to as specialty bran.
Soybean residue
Soybean residue
Soy beans are comprised of approximately 20% oil which is pressed for use in foodstuffs. Soybean residue is what remains after oil has been extracted.
High in crude protein, with a percentage of about 44 to 48%, and also containing a good balance of amino acids, soybean meal is esteemed as the best plant protein animal fodder available.
Soybean residue comes in the form of powdered meal, 40% compressed flakes, and 80% compressed semi-flakes; all results of different production processes.
Alfalfa pellets
Alfalfa pellets
These pellets are created by drying and milling alfalfa, a pasture grass in the pea family, down to a fine meal and then processing the meal into pellets with a diameter of approximately 6mm. Alfalfa pellets are not only high in crude protein, but are also rich in carotene and vitamin E.
Corn gluten meal
Corn gluten meal
Corn gluten is a byproduct of processing corn into cornstarch.
It is comprised of over 60% crude protein as well as containing a lot of carotene and xanthophyll
Cattle mix 1
Cattle mix 1
This variety of cattle feed contains two types of grains and is made by processing corn into powder, making powdered corn the main ingredient, then adding crushed barley.
Fermented fodder
Fermented fodder

  1. Fermentation
    Fermenting refers to processes like silage fermentation and lactic acid fermentation which use microorganisms to break down organic matter in order to produce useful substances.
  2. Fermentation process
    Refers to the process of adding fermenting agents such as kojic acid yeast to starchy fodder and causing the fodder to ferment as the microorganisms multiply. The fermentation process not only improves the flavor of fodder, but also effectively changes inorganic nitrogen into useful single-cell protein.
  3. Fermented cattle feed
    Refers to cattle feed made through the fermenting process. Fermented feeds include those that include a combination of fermented ingredients such as byproducts of starch-based produce like gluten feed that uses beer residue as its main ingredient, byproducts from molasses production, and/or rice residue and bran such as fresh rice bran. These fermented feeds contain good crude fiber and have positive effects like refining the cattle's pallet, etc.

Coarse feed

Saga rice straw
Saga rice straw
Rice straw is made by drying rice stems from irrigated rice plants. The majority of rice straw is from Hirano, a well-known rice production area in Saga. This high-quality rice straw is reaped and shredded in the paddy fields then left to dry in the sun for several days. Rice straw is ideal coarse feed for rumen health and developing overall physical build.
Timothy grass hay
Timothy grass hay
A type of herbaceous perennial grass that grows well in cold climates. It regenerates slowly and can only be reaped about twice a year. It contains a good balance of nutrients and is good for digestion. It had mostly only been imported as race horse fodder in Japan until recently but is now commonly used for fattening cattle in Saga.
Oat hay
Oat hay
Made from early-harvested and dried oat (common wild oat) which is an annual grass. Oats are widely cultivated in areas with warm climates and are a relatively nutritious pasture grass.
Ryegrass straw
Ryegrass straw
This type of pasture grass has both herbaceous perennial and annual varieties. It is highly resistant to cold temperatures and snow and is therefore suited to warm, humid climates. Ryegrass doesn't contain many nutritious qualities other than being high in fiber, but is used as a replacement for rice straw.
Hay cubes
Hay cubes
Alfalfa, sometimes called lucerne, is a perennial sprout in the pea family. It is dried and compressed into cubes which are called hay cubes. These cubes are easy to transport and contain more roughage than pellets. They are high in crude protein and contain large amounts of vitamins and calcium.
Mini hay cubes
Mini hay cubes
These are called mini hay cubes as they are comparatively smaller than standard hay cubes.
They contain almost exactly the same ingredients as standard hay cubes but, as they are made using machine-dried alfalfa, there is less variance in quality between batches and cubes. Furthermore, as they are quite small they can be fed to both calves and mature cattle, making them particularly useful.
Search Beef Production Records
Saga Beef Farms
Media Corner
Kira Saga Beef Restaurant
Saga beef mobile site