Virginia farmer raises rare Japanese cattle

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ALTAVISTA, Va. (WDBJ7) - There is no shortage of beef cattle in Virginia with more than 650,000 beef cows raised on over 26,000 farms in the commonwealth. However, here in Altavista on 423 acres of land you'll find a very special breed of cow: the Wagyu.

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Wagyu, which literally just means Japanese cow, is one of the fastest growing breeds in America. And, for good reason. Since taking his first bite of a Wagyu steak at the Greenbrier Resort 12 years ago, Dale Moore knew he wanted to raise these cattle.

"It was so good, when I got back to my room I called my father-in-law, he lives here on the farm, and he does a lot of internet work and searching," Moore said." 'Jim, start searching for Wagyu, because we're going to switch breeds as quickly as we can.' "

Moore has since raised a variety of fullblood and half-blood Wagyu on his farm that he sells to a number of east coast locations.

So, what makes Wagyu so special?

"Prime is as good as you get," Moore said. "These are above prime. Beyond prime."

Wagyu is famous for its quality and flavor. A big reason for that is the amount of marbling or fat that develops within the muscle. With a low melting point, this fat essentially melts in your mouth when cooked.

The full-blood Wagyu found on Moore's farm can all be traced back to cattle originally found in Japan. One-hundred percent Wagyu cattle are incredibly rare in the U.S., which is why Moore takes pride in his stock.

With all this hype I had to try this for myself. A lot of pressure to cook it right, but the magic is in the beef.

A one and one half inch sirloin steak was a great place to start. Just check out the marbling! A little bit of seasoning of salt and pepper, then into the pan. I went for the stove-top searing method on a cast-iron skillet. A little bit of butter, garlic and rosemary and this steak was coming along. Once it was done cooking, it was time to see how I did.

"That's a really good steak. We did it. We did it!"

My opinion? While carrying a higher price tag, it's a very worthy steak. If you can afford it, I'd highly suggest trying it.

If you are interested in trying it for yourself, Moore only sells his cows either full or half to farms. He suggests visiting Benjamin's in Forest or the General Store & Inn in Altavista.

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