© 2024 Milwaukee Public Media is a service of UW-Milwaukee's College of Letters & Science
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wisconsin farm produces high-end Japanese Wagyu beef

Akaushi cattle at Generations Beef in Dane County WI
Darren Kittleson
Generations Beef
Akaushi cattle at Generations Beef in Dane County, Wisconsin.

High-grade Wagyu beef can cost up to two hundred dollars a pound. Wagyu refers to four native Japanese cattle breeds whose meat is most known for its marbling or its fat. This produces what many say is a buttery flavor without any additives required. But Wisconsinites don’t need to go all the way to Japan to try it. An American breed of Wagyu cattle lives right here at Generations Beef in Dane County.

Darren Kittleson founded Generations Beef in 2018 after buying his parents' farm. His accumulated knowledge of farming and cattle raising prepared him well for the transition from dairy to beef cattle. He says it's "Two very different types of farming because, with the dairy, we're operating working with the cows every day. With beef cattle, we work with them a couple of times a year." This allows the cows to graze uninhibitedly and helps produce high-quality beef.

What makes the Wagyu beef so valuable and sought after is its flavor and tenderness. The breed of Wagyu cow that Kittleson and his team breed is the Akaushi, known for its marbleizing fat strips that are reabsorbed into the meat due to its low melting point. This process flavors the beef without leaving a fatty residue.

"The other thing that drew me to this breed is that the fat is heart healthy. So, this is good fat and it adds to the flavor. But, we also have patents from the breed association showing that it's lowering bad cholesterol in our bodies and raises good cholesterol," he says.

For first-time buyers of Wagyu beef, Kittleson advises preparing the meat with very modest seasoning to experience the naturally embedded flavor that the beef has. He also ensures the consumer of the quality of what they're buying from Generations Beef.

"We're genetically testing every animal. So we can't market it as as Akaushi beef unless I've got the genetics to show that it is. So, if it says it's Akaushi beef, you know it has at least 50% Akaushi genetics," Kittleson says.

Wagyu farming is still new to this area and Kittleson describes his business as pioneering. Due to the relative unfamiliarity of the Wagyu beef and still early phases of production, Kittleson says this Wisconsin version is more affordable compared to the high-end Japanese version that can cost $200 per pound.

"My most expensive cut is our filet mignon, which is the tenderloin, and I have mine just under $30 a pound. [We want] people to understand that they can get locally raised Wagyu that has great flavor and it's reasonably priced," he says.


Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Rob is All Things Considered Host and Digital Producer.
Related Content