Over the years, we have come to believe there is a strong correlation between marbling, flavor, and tenderness with a high S.C.D. score, so these tested characteristics lead us in our breeding strategies with the measurement “AA-10” as our goal. D.N.A. testing provides pre-harvest information on beef quality, specifically on marbling (a measure of the intramuscular fat) and tenderness (how much shear force it takes to cut/chew a piece of meat).
While Wagyu is generally known for its abundant marbling and tenderness, genetics play a significant role in both characteristics. The American Beef Industry has found an exceptional correlation between D.N.A. marker testing scores (scale of 1 (low) – 10 (high)) and post-harvest meat tenderness testing.
Studies have also found the measurement of S.C.D. was “a useful tool for selection of favorable flavored beef carcasses.” It points out that all mammals have this gene, but in the Wagyu, it is turbocharged. This gene turns the saturated fat, known as stearic acid, into monounsaturated oleic acid, where the flavor comes from. Not only is unsaturated fat healthier, but it is also more desirable and pleasing to the palate. D.N.A. sequences in Wagyu cattle are placed into two classifications of amino acids: A (Alanine) and V (Valine). Wagyu carry a genetic mutation that changes Valine to Alanine: the presence of A-type amino acids has a lower melting point of fat. Thus, the preferred S.C.D. designation is A.A.