Noto Wagyu Beef Cattle at Risk of Starving after Major Quake

Jiji Press
Masaru Hirabayashi is seen with a Noto wagyu beef cow in Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture, on Saturday.

NOTO, Ishikawa (Jiji Press) — Top-ranking wagyu beef cattle on the Noto Peninsula are at the brink of starving to death because of a feed shortage in the aftermath of a huge earthquake that struck hard the peninsula in Ishikawa Prefecture on New Year’s Day.

The road used by large trucks to bring grass and feedstuff to Noto Ranch & Co., the leading feeder of Noto beef, a wagyu variety, in the town of Noto, has yet to be restored.

“Feedstuff will run out in another week or two,” said Masaru Hirabayashi, the 40-year-old manager of the ranch. “I feel bitter about being unable to be responsible for their lives.”

Hirabayashi moved from Gunma Prefecture, where his family runs a ranch, in 2014 to help promote Noto beef production in Ishikawa. Thanks to great care, Noto Ranch’s beef won a contest jointly held by Ishikawa and neighboring Toyama Prefecture eight times in a row. The ranch feeds about 1,000 cows and ships some 500 of them a year.

The New Year’s Day earthquake rattled the cowshed so much that it was impossible to stand.

“The cows don’t cry usually, but they kept crying like a chorus and that was unusual,” Hirabayashi said.

Subsequent water and power outages made ranch work extremely tough. Staff had to carry water stored in a tank to the cowshed by hand, but the amount given to each cow, which was 4 to 6 liters, was far short of the about 30 liters needed.

“There’s a big difference between shipping cows and letting them die for other reasons,” Hirabayashi said. “It’s a shame for me to let them die in vain because of a lack of human control. That’s regrettable because I raise cows for people to eat them.”