Genomic Testing and Recessive traits in Wagyu cattle

All breeds have recessive traits that have been discovered or are yet to be discovered.  Some good recessive traits, such as the Highland Dilution mutation which creates white and blonde Wagyu, and some recessives are considered bad which are genetic recessive disorders.  DNA testing can be done for these recessive traits.  For an animal to be deemed a "carrier" of a recessive trait, they had to inherit one copy of the recessive mutation.  For an animal to deemed "affected" it has inherited two copies of the recessive mutation, one from the sire and one from the dam.

With the Wagyu, due to the small founding population outside of Japan, many animals were backcrossed and linebred to certain sire lines.  If that sire was a carrier of a recessive trait a percentage of the generational offspring could also be carriers.  Because of the popularity of Artificial Insemination, it is possible to spread recessive traits to other animals.  Recessive traits that have been discovered in the Wagyu breed so far around the world have DNA tests offered by various genomic labs and Wagyu Cattle Registry has two labs that we work with to aid members.  They are Neogen in Nebraska and University of California at Davis.  For more on various genetic recessives see rules section.

Below are descriptions of the five genetic recessive disorders and the various tests that members may wish to order.  Testing for registration with Wagyu Cattle Registry only require a copy of your animals DNA profile obtained in the Igenity Beef Profile Test.

Wagyu Recessive Disorders

The have so far been 5 recessive disorders found in the Wagyu breed:

  • Erythrocyte Membrane Protein Band III Deficiency (Spherocytosis) (“Band 3” or “B3) – Affected cattle (cattle with two copies of the causative mutation) are morbidly anemic. The mutations affect a protein necessary for proper shape and function of red blood cells. Calves are sometimes born weak and small (40-55 lbs birth weight) with severe anemia, labored breathing, palpitations, and not able to stand or suckle at birth. This disorder is often lethal, but some affected cattle survive to adulthood, although often with severely retarded growth.
  • Chediak-Higashi Syndrome (“CHS”) – Affected cattle have a deficiency in cells that make up a functional immune system. As a result, these calves are often more susceptible to disease and infection. These cattle may also have a light coat color, and slight coagulation problems (hemorrhaging). This disorder is usually not lethal.
  • Bovine Blood Coagulation Factor XIII Deficiency (“F13”) – This disorder is where one of the proteins needed to form blood clots is missing or reduced. Symptoms include severely prolonged bleeding time, bruising from castration/branding, and severe anemia. Death occurs in most cases.
  • Factor XI Deficiency (“F11”) – This mutation affects the efficiency of the clotting factor F11. Affected cattle suffer from mild hemophilia-like bleeding tendencies, either spontaneously or following trauma and surgical procedures. It is also possible that Carrier x Carrier mating have increased difficulty producing viable fertilized embryos and full-term pregnancies and are sometimes “Repeat Breeders” (cows that lose their pregnancy soon after conception and are then rebred, causing abnormally longer periods between calving). It has been reported that factor 11 increased rebreeding by 50% in the Canadian Holstein breed.
  • Claudin 16 Deficiency (“CL16”) – This mutation causes a buildup of fibrous tissue in the kidneys as well as other tissues. Affected cattle suffer from a severe risk of kidney failure throughout their lives. Other symptoms include growth retardation, increased blood urea nitrogen and creatinine values, diarrhea and overgrowth of hooves. It may or may not be lethal, but affected cattle tend to have atypically short lives.

SCD and Tenderness Tests

There are two tests that have become popular among some breeders and probably more popular among auctioneers, geneticists, and others. The SCD gene (Stearoyl-CoA desaturase) was discovered by Dr. Tadayoshi Mitsuhashi who offered testing in Japan and then Neogen offered it here. It determines the melting point of fat on a Wagyu carcass. The SCD is comprised of two amino acid types Alanine and Valine and an animal will get from both parents. So the possible combinations are AA VA or VV. AA is considered the best for a lower melting point of fat and VV the worse. In a Japanese study over 1000 fullblood Wagyu were tested and it was discovered that there was a minor difference of 3.96 % between AA and VV animals The AA animals average melting point was 77.72 degree F. while VV animals fat melted at 81.68 degrees F. The Dr. Gaskins study at Washington State also had a minor difference of 2-3 degrees.

Here is what the world famous Australian breeder, David Blackmore had to say of SCD:

SCD's, this test is looking to measure the variants of SCD's and polyesters in one gene. As there are three billion nucleotides that make up the genome of an animal, and genomics research that it is a multiple number, hundreds of thousands of chromosomes in a group over multiple sites. So it's, on a meter long DNA screen that are relevant to finding many multiple genes that effect the trait. I don't know of any breeder in Australia that consider that these two tests are relevant to improve carcass quality, and in fact, ran by one of the members of the board, and he said, 'For goodness' sake, can you get those Americans to stop doing those two tests? No one does them in Australia and we only do them for when we're selling cattle to America.' So as far as Australians are concerned, there's no relevance.”

WCR will take the advice of the Aussy board member and NOT offer the SCD test.

The Tenderness test is included in the required Igenity Beef test which is an extra perk. While this test measures, on a scale of 1-10 and 10 being best, the Calpain enzyme that breaks down the meat. So it checks on how fast the meat breaks down with 10 being the fastest. It seems that in hot tropical areas you would want an animal that breaks down slowly and a score of 1 being advantageous. However, we have refrigeration in most places and the advantage of this test is to show how you could shorten the hang time in a cooler with a higher scoring animal.

Wagyu because of the high IMF (marbling) is naturally tender and the Warner-Bratzler shear machine is probably a better test for tenderness. Still the Igenity test is valid for hang time and is thrown in with a number of other tests all at a very reasonable price.

Other available Genomic Test Options for Wagyu Cattle:

The Wagyu Cattle Registry will be utilizing the Igenity Beef Profile from Neogen and the Dairy Recessives Panel (A2, Kappa Casein, Beta Casein and Beta Lactoglobulin).

Igenity® Beef utilizes DNA to predict genetic variation in animals providing an additional selection tool to cattle producers. Producers also use Igenity in the production of high-value feeder calves and to score commercial bulls being used as sires. Igenity Beef profile consists of 16 maternal, performance, and carcass traits plus parentage.

Ordering Test:

For ordering test from UC Davis:

You will need to setup an account with UC Davis.  Once you are logged in to order tests, you will select cattle from the menu at the top.  Please check the box next to Registry Affiliation and select Wagyu Cattle Registry from the list.


Tests from WCR and International Livestock Registries

WCR Genetic Test Order Form


In order to use these forms, you will need to Adobe PDF Reader if you do not already have it.  If you need to download it, click the link below.

Maternal Traits

  • Birth Weight
  • Calving Ease Direct
  • Calving Ease Maternal
  • Stayability
  • Heifer Pregnancy
  • Docility
  • Milk

Performance Traits

  • Residual Feed Intake
  • Average Daily Gain
  • Weaning Weight
  • Yearling Weight

Carcass Traits

  • Tenderness
  • Marbling
  • Ribeye Area
  • Fat Thickness
  • Hot Carcass Weight


Genomic Testing Prices

Test the the Wagyu Cattle Registry recommends using UC Davis for:

Test Cost
Horned / Polled Test                                                                                                                        $25.00
Dilution Gene $25.00

The test below are the test that the Wagyu Cattle Registry recommends from Neogen.  These tests will be ordered thru the WCR and International Livestock Registries.

Test Cost
Japanese Cattle Panel

  • Erythrocyte Membrane Protein Band III Deficiency (Spherocytosis) (“Band 3” or “B3)
  • Chediak-Higashi Syndrome (“CHS”)
  • Factor XI Deficiency (“F11”)
  • Bovine Blood Coagulation Factor XIII Deficiency (“F13”)
Claudin 16 Deficiency (C16) $50.00
Japanese Cattle Panel and Claudin 16 Deficiency together $95.00
Igenity Beef Profile (required for obtaining the animals DNA markers) $29.00
Igenity Milk Proteins

  • A2
  • Kappa Casein
  • Beta Casein
  • Beta Lactoglobulin


Please make check(s) payable to International Registries.
We do accept credit card payments with
Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express with a 4% courtesy fee.
You may call with your credit card information.

Mail to:
Wagyu Cattle Registry
P.O. Box 118
Butler, MO 64730

Phone number: 816-738-4179


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