When Kobe beef settled in Najacois and co-existed with limousines!

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Thanks to the determination of Emilie and Fabrice Lafon, a few young herders from Aveyron, Wagyu cattle, raised in Kobé, now coexist with the limousine herd in Najacois. A challenge that goes hand in hand with a great adventure.

The lush meadows of the Rouergue border are bursting with happiness in this overwhelming springtime. They are almost light-years away from Mount Fuji, Japan’s “sacred mountain”. A bit like Najac with Kobe, another mythical city in the “Land of the Rising Sun.”

Up above, not far from the Aveyron, on the grounds of the Testas farm, a strange ballet was taking shape. A few calls in Occitans and Wagyus with black coats, sharp with the red of the Limousine, until full gallop. Seeing them appear might suggest that the Camargue swamps have moved a little further north-west of France. But it is nothing. Because upon closer examination, it is impossible not to measure two races with only one coat color in common.

“A slightly crazy bet”

For the rest, it all started with Fabrice and Emilie Lafon’s desire to diversify livestock. Emilie interrupted: “I want to continue something else that we are not normal. A television report and several meetings with the pioneers of this breeding in France, the focus will be on Wagyu beef, the name of the very premium Kobe beef breed. It is necessary to establish a whole organization together with a breeding plan that begins with the purchase of embryos, first placed on purebred limousines. Success isn’t really there, “it’s a risk when you work on creatures”, follow-up questions. Until a purebred Wagyu crossbred cow is purchased, two cows, through the trial and error inherent in the process, will eventually bear their offspring. “We’ll have two more births later this year,” Emilie reproached, knowing their approach seemed like a slightly crazy bet. Finally, after a lot of time and hard work, the first results are visible.

“Incredible kindness”

Guapo, Fuki, Okydon Tokyo, Saka… Each animal has its own name. Like a game for Nina and Hugo, the children of Emilie and Fabrice who christened some of the least Japanese-sounding names. As soon as she saw the small family, the cow ran free from the depths of the park to be petted. “They were so kind,” laughed Emilie. And added: “we have a female, it’s a dog, she loves the caress between her ears …” And they will still have to grind, because by the end of the year, two calves another from Kobe, who will be born on the farm, will join the extended family. Bring a bit of the quiet and peaceful power of the country of the Rising Sun, where Mount Fuji overlooks the vast lands…

Emilie Lafon is still very alert on her Wagyu herd. “We knew it was a niche product, with a price tag that seemed outrageous given its rarity and excellence.” If she were to compare it to the truffle, she would of course highlight the long work the process entails. Real beef is castrated for two to four months, then weaned after seven months, Wagyu will be fattened patiently for three years with farm-produced alfalfa, then with a grain blend and flaxseed.

The meat is very tender and the marble stands out from other beefs. “Certainly race wants that, but food does the rest,” she defends. When you taste Wagyu for the first time, your taste buds will explode.

Arriving in France about fifteen years ago, Wagyu (literally “cow from Japan”) with its delicious and delicate texture, its most famous variant is Kobe beef, raised only in Kobé and now preserved. protected by protected geographical identification, had made a place for himself in the sunshine in the French grasslands and invited himself to the largest tables. Many chefs have fallen in love with its delicate meaty flavor. It is also from this angle that Fabrice works, more on the livestock side, and Emilie on a commercial level (to contact her, call 06 33 36 17 43).

“Our goal is to offer our products to the chefs of the territory,” she insisted. It was the restaurant l’Ambrose in Albi that was the first. Nicole Fagegaliter, the chef who stars at the Auberge du Vieux-Pont in Belcastel, is also connected to her. She offered it this spring on the menu of her Najac restaurant “Tartines et compagnie”, where she supplies products from the Testas farm direct from producer to consumer.

But you have to be patient, the last beef on the market is for this spring. For the next, it will be necessary to wait until April 2023. Proof that everything comes at the right time for those who know how to wait.

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