Legendary wagyu beef raised by P.E.I. veterinarian

Mel Crane loves eating a good piece of beef so much he decided to start breeding his own herd of wagyu beef cattle on his Kensington farm.

Mel Crane loves beef so much he was willing to wait years to breed his own herd to have a taste of legendary wagyu beef. 

"It was very pleasant," Crane says of his first taste of full-blood black wagyu.

"I have waited years to try it, and it was not a disappointment. I can tell you it wasn't."

Wagyu cattle can trace their lineage back to Kobe, Japan. The same way champagne is known as sparkling wine outside the Champagne region of France, Kobe beef is known as wagyu outside Japan.

I have waited years to try it, and it was not a disappointment,- Mel Crane

Crane is a veterinarian, not a cattle farmer. His work is as a large animal veterinarian specializing in transplanting embryos.

But he now has 13 full-blood black wagyu from embryos he brought to P.E.I. from Washington state. Their lineage can be traced directly back to Kobe.

"Besides the finer texture of the meat, the fat is softer, there's a high ratio of unsaturated to saturated," says Crane.

"The omega 3 content is similar to salmon, so it should be a healthy product."

Healthy but expensive: wagyu cattle are much smaller than traditional North American beef breeds, and at a commercial scale wagyu take much longer to get to market, all adding to the costs of the final product.

Veterinarian Mel Crane says there is a market for Atlantic Canadian bred waygu beef cattle. (Mitch Cormier/CBC)

"They sure don't eat a lot. It is difficult to get them to eat much. So the cost of the feed isn't overly significant," he said.

"But they take a longer time to get ready for harvesting. Most of this breed would be harvested between two and three years, and usually around 30 months."

Other beef breeds are harvested at 14 months, and while a farmer needs to realize around $2,000 out of traditional beef cattle, they have to make around $5,000 for a single wagyu. 

Crane said plenty of people have been getting in touch hoping to buy some wagyu meat, but he's not interested in selling to consumers. He wants to be a stock breeder for farmers, and has interest from operations in Quebec and New Brunswick.

Some wagyu beef is being imported from as far as Australia now, and he hopes a commercial market can be built from Atlantic Canadian wagyu cattle.