COLLEGE STATION — Dr. Stephen Smith, a Texas A&M AgriLife Research professor in the department of animal science at Texas A&M University in College Station, spoke about his international efforts to help bolster the beef industry at a recent seminar on the Texas A&M campus.
Smith, at the invitation of the Norman Borlaug Institute of International Agriculture, shared information with institute staff and others interested in international agriculture about his years of research and practical experience studying beef cattle from Australia, Japan, Korea and China.
His decades of research and investigation have taken him to Japan 14 times, Korea seven times, Australia five times and China three times.
“The majority of what I’ve done in my research during the past decade has involved the improvement of beef carcass quality and taste related to fat content, as well as the development of beef with a healthier type of fat,” Smith said.
He said his study of Angus cattle in Australia that first showed him how the quality of beef fat could be affected by what cattle were fed, as well as their genetics.
Smith said Shogo Takeda, owner of Takeda Farms in Hokkaido, Japan, once told him marbling and fatty acid composition are “about 60 percent genetics and 40 percent production.”
“In Australia, they do not feed their cattle as much corn as we do here in the U.S. because they don’t have suitable growing conditions for it,” Smith explained. “Instead, their main feed grains are typically wheat and barley. As a result, the fat produced is harder and has a higher amount of saturated and trans fat.”
While pasture-raised Angus cattle in the U.S. and other countries produce a leaner beef, he said, the fat composition of that beef is higher in saturated fat and trans fats.
Smith said cattle raised in Japan and Korea, where the animals are fed more corn, produce a more marbled beef with a “healthier” type of fat.
“The marbling and overlying fat content in grain-fed beef has much less saturated and trans-fat than do the fat deposits in grass-fed beef,” he said.
“Japanese black and Japanese brown cattle are considered wagyu and both have high marbling and oleic acid content,” Smith said.“Beef from Japanese cattle is much lower in saturated fat than that from our domestic beef.”
The beef from Akaushi or wagyu cattle, which originated in China, have nearly 50 percent more oleic acid content as American grass-fed beef, he said, adding that oleic acid content makes not only for better tasting beef, but also healthier, beef.