Lakes hotelier rearing own beef

TWO Japanese Wagyu embryo-bred bull calves are being reared by Lakes hotelier and farmer Jonathan Denby.

It is the first stage of his breeding project to eventually provide luxury steaks for his three hotel restaurants. Wagyu or Kobe-style beef, is often tagged the ‘Caviar of the meat world’ due to the tender, succulent meat.

Mr Denby imported the embryos from Japan and these were implanted in two Galloway heifers on his farm.

Mr Denby said: “The main purpose of this programme is to breed from these animals. We have inserted eight embryos altogether and expect another two or three Wagyu to be born, perhaps one in August and two at Christmas.”

The cows are among the most pampered in the world and in order to ensure they are kept in tip top condition, Mr Denby plans to continue the Wagyu tradition of feeding them beer - in this case the Lake District specials of Hawkshead Bitter and Lakeland Gold - as well as playing classical music to help them relax. The cattle will also be massaged in a technique to improve the tenderness of the meat.

In August Mr Denby will fly out to Japan in a fact-finding mission to Kobe; the stronghold of Wagyu cattle, in a programme sponsored by the British Embassy in Tokyo.

The majority of restaurants and suppliers offering Wagyu steaks in the UK import the meat but Mr Denby plans to serve it at a reasonable cost that does not hurt the pocket in his South Lakes Hotels chain.

Selfridges sell imported Wagyu for £85 per sandwich, and it can cost up to £500/kg or between £5,000-£10,000 per animal, the record being £125,000.

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