Designated Producers

Recipient of the Distinction Award from the 2012 “Kyorei Kai” Kobe Meat Cattle Show
[Ohta Farm]Katsunori Ohta

Two brothers working in tandem
Auction of Kobe Beef and other kuroge (black haired) wagyu beef is underway at the Seibu Market in Kobe. Here, among beef producers and brokers, we find rancher Katsunori Ohta, who is watching with exceptionally sharp eyes as the beef carcasses are auctioned off one after another. Katsunori has amazed people around him by winning the ‘Kyorei Kai’ cattle show award back-to-back in 2011 and 2012.
Buying up nearly all the beef raised by Katsunori is his younger brother Tetsuya Ohta. Tetsuya owns a meat shop and 3 “Ohtaya” barbecue restaurants. It was 13 years ago that Tetsuya began his business as a cattle grower’s son who grew up on a cattle farm. As Tetsuya’s business grew, so did Ohta Farm.
“You can’t judge the true value of beef just by looking at the grade or the cross-section of a carcass. I only buy a carcass after checking every possible detail with my own eyes, from the cattle’s pedigree to its bodily build. I also cut the meat myself everyday to check the meat and fat quality,” Tetsuya says with confidence. Tetsuya also vouches for his brother. “His skills as a cattle raiser is improving day by day and I think he is really fulfilled at the moment.”
The essence of raising cows is ‘reading the lineage’
Tetsuya doesn’t just prepare the meat and sell them. He constantly studies the relationship between various data of cows, such as pedigree, and their meat quality he observes first-hand at his meat shop. Tetsuya passes on his findings to his brother Katsunori every day. The daily feedback is the biggest asset to Ohta Farm, which every year produces more than 10 Kobe Beef cows of the highest A5-12 rank. Tetsuya says, “I guess what I’m doing is ‘reading the lineage’. Pedigree keeps changing with every crossbreeding. So I try to read ahead and provide information that would be useful in buying the next calf, such as what’s a good buy and what’s not so good.” Katsunori chimes in, “I’m not in a position to cut or sell meat so I find information from Tetsuya really valuable. But at the same time, information alone is not sufficient for purchasing a calf. In the end, it’s my judgment that I rely on.” Listening to the brothers’ talk you can tell what a perfect pair they are.
Determined to continue evolving
Katsunori has been a cattle farmer for some 20 years. In spite of the praise from his brother, Katsunori says, “I have never yet felt that I’ve reached a goal.” He says, “Pedigree changes. Even if I buy a calf thinking it’s the right one, it takes 2 years to produce results, while the cow changes every day. It’s no good repeating the same thing just because it went well the previous time.” Katsunori remains perfectly calm after winning the award for 2 years running.
Katsunori has been adding around 100 cows to his herd at Ohta Farm every year and now raises about 1,100 heads of cattle. Katsunori’s determination to never stop and to keep evolving in pursuit of higher quality Kobe Beef is visible in every aspect of his work, from the selection of his calves and the specially blended feed to the daily management of the cows’ health.

Katsunori (right) and Tetsuya (left) pose proudly in front of a beef carcass from Ohta farm. It was one of the highest quality meat sold at the auction that day.

“Ohtaya” meat shop in Kobe Minatogawa (upper) There are also 3 “Ohtaya” barbecue restaurants in Kobe and Wadayama
Katsunori (middle) and Tetsuya (lower) looking serious at an auction