The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

March 21, 2014

Rancher wins 'grand champion' awards at Houston show

PALESTINE —

For one local rancher who entered the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo this year, a title was at stake – or should we say steak?

For the second year in a row, Gary Yamamoto, owner of Gary Yamamoto Genetics in Anderson County, walked away with the overall grand champion title for senior bull in the Wagyu Kobe breed division – beating out more than 60 other Wagyu cattle.

As a bonus, for the first time, he won overall grand champion in the cow/calf pair for the Wagyu breed as well.

Ranch Manger Tim Conrad said Yamato entered eight head of cattle in the annual event this March, which is the world's largest livestock show. Five of those entries were “graded prime” – a high honor according to Conrad – but this is the first year two of Yamato's entries walked away with the highest title in the Wagyu breed, one that Conrad said is not as common in the United States.

“They're just a special breed of cow – that's where all your high-dollar steaks come from,” Conrad said “Kobe beef, that's the tender meat, the prime meat.”

The Wagyu breed, originally from Japan, is genetically predisposed to produce a high percentage of oleaginous unsaturated fat, making its meat of higher quality and worth a pretty penny. Conrad said that the Yamamoto ranch, formerly known as Gary Yamamoto Custom Beef, now collects semen to raise herd sires.

“We went straight genetics and got out of the beef end of it,” he said.

Also during the show, Conrad said he entered a junior bull that won the reserved grand champion junior bull title, which is runner-up to the overall title.

“It's pretty exciting for us,” Conrad said. “And winning senior bull two years in a row is pretty good.”

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