Designated Producers

Recipient of the Distinction Award from the 2016 “Kyorei Kai” Kobe Meat Cattle Show
[Yamanokuchi Farm] Naoki Yamanokuchi

Producing beef that does not disappoint buyers
The A5-12 grade is given to Kobe Beef that scores top marks in all yield, quality, and marbling. Only about a half of Tajima-gyu calves grow up to qualify as Kobe Beef cattle, and less than 0.5 percent achieve the highest A5-12 grade. Any fattening farmer would dream to produce one A5-12 grade cow in a whole year, which is no easy task.
However, Naoki Yamanokuchi, who operates a fattening farm in Minami Awaji City on Awaji Island, has constantly been producing not just one but a few heads of A5-12 grade Kobe Beef cattle every year. Especially noteworthy is the cow that won the Distinction Award at the “Kyorei Kai” cattle show held at the end of 2016. The cow fetched a record price for Yamanokuchi, far exceeding his previous high. This is proof that more meat brokers are wanting to buy beef carcasses from Yamanokuchi Farm. But Yamanokuchi says he feels bad for those who are buying his beef when the price gets too high. He says stably producing delicious beef that does not disappoint his trusting customers is far more important to him than winning a prize or fetching a high price. He is unwavering in his desire to see his work benefit the beef producer, buyer, and eater.
Working honestly and diligently, and keeping his herd at a manageable size
Each month, Yamanokuchi buys four to five Tajima-gyu calves, while selling roughly the same number of grown cattle on the market. He maintains the number of cattle at his farm at about 120, which he finds to be the level he and his wife can keep within their reach and sight. Asked whether he has plans to hire more staff and expand his cattle business, he laughs and says, “I’m not a big enough person to do such thing. I’m not thinking of increasing the number of cattle.” Asked why he has been so successful, he says, matter-of-factly, “It’s luck. Cows are animals, so there’s no telling what will happen. My cattle did their work well, that’s all.” We asked him his dreams and plans for the future. He tells us, “I will continue to work hard, just as I’ve always done. What makes me most happy is to hear from customers that they can’t go wrong with cows from my farm.” His words reveal his sincere character.
Overcoming the sorrow of losing his mentor
Yamanokuchi is now trying something new. Two years ago, he purchased four female cows to have a go at breeding. He says it’s still more like a hobby, but he has been successful in producing four calves in two years. He says the first calves born at Yamanokuchi Farm are now growing healthily under his care. Yamanokuchi was born and raised in Miyazaki in the Kyushu region, where his family ran an integrated cattle breeding and fattening operation. His background is likely to become even more useful down the road.
Actually, 2016 was also a sad year for Yamanokuchi. His uncle, who was his mentor in cattle farming, passed away. It was his uncle who inspired him to move to Awaji Island 12 years ago to raise Tajima cattle. His uncle was a big presence, helping him with everything from finding a farm and barn, learning cattle fattening skills, to building relationships with customers. Yamanokuchi says, with his face full of resolve, “My uncle continued to give me a lot of assistance until just before he passed away. But I can no longer rely on him, so I must get my act together and work hard.”

[Yamanokuchi Farm] Naoki Yamanokuchi Yamanokuchi expresses his honest opinion on the future of the livestock industry in Hyogo Prefecture.

[Yamanokuchi Farm] Naoki Yamanokuchi[Yamanokuchi Farm] Naoki Yamanokuchi[Yamanokuchi Farm] Naoki YamanokuchiYamanokuchi stands in front of the carcass that won the Distinction Award, together with the buyer, Yuki Sotoike of Teishin Chikusan. Yamanokuchi cares about producing beef that doesn’t disappoint his buyers.