Sullivan Creek Ranch
151 County Road 1047 Vinemont, Alabama 35179
(256) 841-4494


"Flying A" Beef

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greg sullivan

What is Akaushi?

Akaushi is a fairly unknown cattle breed. JoJo Carrales is vice president of cattle operations at Heartbrand Ranch in Harwood, Texas. There, he oversees management of a herd of almost 14,000 head of Akaushi cattle.

Jojo, what can you tell us about the history of the Akaushi breed?

JoJo: The Akaushi breed is originally from Japan. It was developed by the Japanese government in the prefecture of Kumamoto, a state in southern Japan. Kumamoto has a lot of diversity in climate and altitude, from sea level all the way up to 9,000 or 10,000 feet. There is a mountain, Mount Aso, that is where the Akaushi breed was developed. The breed has been in the U.S. for 25 years. It was imported in the mid-1990s and was held very tight and very restricted until about 10 years ago when the owners actually started selling genetics.

sullivan creek ranch beef

How is Akaushi different from traditional American and European breeds?

JoJo: Akaushi is an extremely high-quality breed in terms of carcass merit. Akaushi beef is more tender and has more marbling than British, continental, as well as American breeds because the genetics of the Akaushi breed allow them and their offspring to deposit a higher amount of intra-muscular fat. Heritability and predictability are additional benefits of the breed. With Akaushi, we’re able to predict with very good accuracy what the offspring’s performance will be, both on the hoof, genotype-wise, as well as on the rib.


How is Akaushi meat different from other beef? What makes it unique?

JoJo: Marbling, which is intra-muscular fat, is something that makes Akaushi beef different from other beef. Akaushi has a higher instance of fat within the muscle and that is what gives it all of its taste, a lot of its palatability and richness. The U.S., along with a lot of other countries, has a quality grade system based on marbling. In the structure of how beef is priced and how it is USDA-graded, the quality grade is based on how much intra-muscular fat is seen when the federal grader looks between the 12th and 13th rib when the carcass is split.
We know from centuries of experience that the more fat is in the muscle, the tastier the product. Not only does Akaushi beef have more marbling, it also has a better ratio of fatty acid profiles: it has a higher instance of mono-unsaturated fatty acids than saturated fat. The system in which we use Akaushi is mainly a cross-breeding system. We somewhat “Americanized” the use of that breed by crossing it on cows that are more climate-adaptable to our area. For instance, Greg Anderson has a Black Baldy set of cows. Thanks to the Akaushi breed’s heritability and predictability traits, Greg can use Akaushi bulls on his set of cows and still get a very good product on a 50% offspring.

herd of cattle

Does the Akaushi breed have any downsides?

JoJo: If you look at a full-blood Akaushi animal, one of the draw-backs is direct growth: they are a slower growing breed as a full-blood. That is why the crossbreeding program works so well. You get a lot of heterosis, which is the tendency of a crossbred animal to show qualities superior to those of both parents, and growth from the cross-breeding on different cows, like the English and continental cattle that are already established here in the U.S.

brown cow

Why is Akaushi not better known in the U.S.?

JoJo: They are a relatively young breed in the U.S. that has less population than other breeds like the Angus which I believe are coming up on their 150th year in the U.S. The Akaushi breed has been growing significantly but it is less popular than other breeds, such as Angus, Hereford and Charolais, just in terms of straight registration.

brown cattle

What does the future of Akaushi look like here in the U.S.?

JoJo: I think the Akaushi breed has a very bright future and will continue to grow because it’s a breed that is focused on the end-consumer of beef. Currently, we’re one of the fastest-growing branded beef programs in the U.S. From what we have seen, we’re second only to Angus of being a breed that is recognized at restaurants and by foodservice distributors. There are other breeds that are more popular in numbers but they don’t have the meat program. They are popular for gross numbers and for other things that the meat consumer actually doesn’t care about and really doesn’t want, for example, tougher, bigger ribeyes.

The HeartBrand program exports beef into many different countries and we are selling genetics all over the world, into South Africa and Australia, into Europe, South America. All of those are markets that are buying genetics to improve their beef quality. Long term, Akaushi will improve not just beef experience for the consumer but it will improve the beef industry as a whole.

fresh meat burger


Akaushi beef contains a higher concentration of mono-unsaturated fat relative to saturated fat, which the American Heart Association states can lead to lower cholesterol, prevent coronary heart disease and help with weight loss. The marbling in Akaushi beef also contains a much higher percentage of mono-unsaturated fat than any other beef in the United States, resulting in a rich, buttery flavor as well as tenderness throughout. At Sullivan Creek Ranch, Akaushi beef is all natural and has no added hormones, steroids or antibiotics.

beef chart

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