Japan Farmer Interview: Ohira Farm Japanese Wagyu x Holstein Dairy F1 crossbred feedlot & restaurant
On my recent trip to Hokkaido I had the pleasure of meeting Kawai-san, CEO of Ohira Farm.
Just the night before, I had dined at his high-end restaurant in Sapporo.
It was delicious!
And what was even more amazing and intriguing was the menu – diners could only choose from a selection of 2 steak cuts. And these changed each day, to ensure that ALL the beef cuts from the animal were being enjoyed, appreciated and consumed.
This is the key concept of Kawai-san’s restaurant.
Kawai-san is extremely passionate about not only producing high quality beef, but also ensuring that each and every cut from the animal is being enjoyed to the maximum satisfaction of the customer.
Each and every beef cut is delicious and tender, if it is prepared by the most suitable cooking method for that particular cut.
In the past, Kawai-san had tried to explain that this concept – that short plate, brisket or shin beef is just as delicious as sirloin or tenderloin, if they are prepared by the most suitable cooking method for that particular cut of beef. But often people were hesitant to try different cuts, and they continued to purchase the popular sirloin or fillet steaks.
So Kawai-san trained as a qualified chef and started his own restaurant to really show customers how delicious all the beef cuts can be!
It was so wonderful to be able to interview Kawai-san and see how he produces his amazing beef brand.
Ohira Farm specializes in Japanese black wagyu x Holstein dairy F1 cattle, which he purchases from dairy farms in Hokkaido.
Me with Ohira Farm CEO Kawai-san during the interview (my daughter fell asleep, so she also joined us on the tour!)
Calves in the barn. It was very calm and quiet! These are F1 calves (Japanese wagyu x Holstein dairy F1 crossbred) purchased from the dairy farms in Hokkaido. Often the dairy farmers prefer their Holstein dairy heifers to have the first calf as F1, as the Japanese wagyu bull has a smaller frame than Holstein bulls. Therefore the calves are smaller and easier to calve. After the first calf, the following 2nd and 3rd calves are usually fullbred holstein to be used as replacement cows. Once the F1 calves are purchased by the feedlots, they are raised on milk and then transferred to feed. They stay in the barn until they are ready to enter the feedlot at about 10 mths.
The calves are gradually transferred from milk onto feed.
F1 cattle eating hay in the feedlot
The feedlots are under cover to protect the cattle from the hot sun and the snow in winter, providing shelter and a consistent environment for the cattle
The cattle are fed until about 28 months age
This is one of the new barns housing the fullbred Japanese black wagyu. Ohira Farm has 550 Japanese wagyu.
Kawai-san has a patent for his own method of making the wood chip bedding for the cattle in the barns. All the bedding is processed on the farm.
Wood chips processed and ready for using as bedding for the cattle. The wood chip bedding in the barns is changed every 10 days in summer, and every 2 weeks in winter.
The cattle are extremely friendly and placid. I am always amazed by how quiet and calm Japanese feedlots are. And there is completely no smell or odour. The beddings are changed frequently, and the barns are light and airy, creating a very comfortable, stress-free environment for the cattle.
After the farm tour and interview, Kawai-san invited us to have lunch at his Forest Kitchen restaurant!
Kawai-san’s Forest Kitchen restaurant
Kawai-san’s whole family was working in the kitchen! When we arrived, Kawai-san also put on an apron and started cooking steaks for us to taste. Kawai-san is a qualified chef, and his family all help with the business. Even his daughter runs the restaurant in Bangkok. Amazing!
Delicious Ohira Farm F1 steak with Japanese-style sauce and vegetables
Outside the Ohira Farm restaurant in Sapporo
Me with the head chef at Ohira Farm beef steak restaurant in Sapporo. All the beef is on display along with information about the farm and how the cattle are raised. Such a wonderful farm-to-plate experience!
The beef was delicious! Very tender and full of flavor. I had the rump steak.
Inside the restaurant in Sapporo
Great atmosphere. All the cattle ear tags are on display on the walls and in the bathroom!
All the F1 vacuum packed beef primals on display in the refrigerated cabinet