Wagyu Calf Born after Conception with Freeze-dried Semen in Japan

On April 17, Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture announced a Japanese black wagyu calf, conceived with freeze-dried semen, had been born–a breakthrough expected to lead the way to stably storing genetic resources of the premium beef. According to the prefecture, located in northeastern Japan, it is the first instance in which a wagyu calf has been born after being conceived with freeze-dried semen at a temperature of -30 ºC.

Usually, bovine semen is frozen in liquid nitrogen at a temperature of -196 ºC. If a natural disaster or other contingencies make it impossible to refill liquid nitrogen, the genetic resources can be lost. The prefecture hopes to eventually rear calves conceived with semen stored at room temperature, the officials said.

The female calf weighed 66 pounds when it was born Tuesday, April 14, in a Miyagi dairy farm in a joint project with Kochi University. The calf is in good health, prefectural officials said.

Kazutsugu Matsukawa, an associate professor of livestock reproductive science at the university in western Japan, freeze-dried semen from a Shigefukuhisa bull in January 2019 that was then used to fertilize a cow in the Miyagi farm in July.

Japan’s beef exports, including wagyu, soared more than sevenfold to $230 million in 2018 from $31.5 million in 2010 amid growing wagyu popularity overseas.