The method of raising is what makes this beef expensive ?
In Japan, the animals must be reared and fed under strict guidelines in order to qualify for the Wagyu label.
Breeding cattle and pregnant cows are grazed on pasture while calves are fed in a specific way, with special feed, to ensure that the meat has a lot of marbling. Young Wagyu calves are fed by hand with a milk substitute, and when weather is cold, they wear jackets.
They are kept in a farm for seven months until they are auctioned for sale in fattening farms. Wagyu cattle are brought in barns on the fattening farms and are named rather than numbered. They can grow up to about 700 kg and take about three years to produce (for regular beef it is 15 months), while they are kept in a diet of rice straws, entire crop silage and concentrates.
Every single cow has a birth certificate, which identifies its bloodline, so every piece of Japanese Wagyu steak can be traced back to a farm. There is a myth that cattle are fed on beer and massaged daily in Japan but this is not true. However, they are sometimes brushed with a stiff brush to increase blood circulation and to relieve stress.