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  • Writer's pictureSecond Opinion Magazine

Fresh, Premium Beef from DZ Wagyu



By Becky Streeter


After 35 years of dairy farming, Bloomer-based farmer Doug Zwiefelhofer decided it was time to retire. Like many small dairy farms these days, it was a lot of work without a lot of return. But Doug loved the cows, and he wanted to continue working with cattle in some capacity. Then his son suggested using their dairy heifers to create an elite beef farm, and in 2017, they established DZ Wagyu.


The transition from dairy farming to raising Wagyu became a family affair. Doug and Patty’s son Eric and his wife Miranda were/are instrumental to the project with their reproductive knowledge and technical skills gained from their PhD research at the University of Saskatchewan. Doug works with the heifers from insemination to the birth of the calves, and then cares for the cattle until it’s time for processing. And his wife, Patty, a retired math teacher, took on the business of marketing the beef to the public. 


Wagyu are a Japanese beef cattle breed. According to the American Wagyu Association, “Wagyu were originally draft animals used in agriculture, and were selected for their physical endurance. This selection favored animals with more intramuscular fat cells – ‘marbling’...The unique taste and tenderness of highly marbled Wagyu beef makes for an unrivaled eating experience... Wagyu beef naturally contains a higher percentage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids than typical beef. Not only will consumers enjoy the extraordinary quality of Wagyu beef, but it’s heart healthy as well.”


Wagyu cattle are classified by their ancestry. F1 means 50% Wagyu by DNA, F2 is 75%, etc. According to Patty Zwiefelhofer, beef advertised as ‘Wagyu’ in grocery stores and restaurants is often only 50% Wagyu DNA, unless otherwise indicated. Patty states, “Over 30 animals on our farm are 100% (fullblood) Wagyu beef, which means cattle whose DNA is traceable to Japanese native breeds.” The Zwiefelhofers also share pedigree information for all the DZ Wagyu beef they sell, so the customer knows exactly what they purchase.


Doug is hands-on for the entire process. He helps inseminate and then flush embryos from a donor animal. His son, Eric checks for viability, and then places embryos in surrogate females who will carry the pregnancy. Doug’s favorite part is after the calves are born. “I love animal husbandry - breeding and caring for farm animals,” he says. “Seeing God’s creatures being born, caring for the new calves and helping them thrive. Watching the cow/calf pair running in the pasture together and witnessing the bond between the two animals. That is the best part.”


The calves are pasture-raised and grass-fed for 27-30 months, much longer than 18-20 months for an Angus steer. About three to four months before processing, they come off pasture and are fed a high energy diet to enhance marbling and flavor of the meat. Occasionally, this is a sad time for Doug who has grown attached to a few special animals, and he has to remind himself that this is the cycle of life.


It’s because of the care and dedication of the Zwiefelhofers from start to finish that people are starting to rave about DZ Wagyu. They partner with Wilson Creek Inn in Menomonie and have had great success. Online sales are increasing. Patty says, “We’ve been told by the processor that our steers are some of the finest Wagyu they’ve seen. I love hearing customers say it’s the best beef they’ve ever tasted. And because our Wagyu is pasture-raised and grain-finished on a local farm using existing facilities, it’s probably more affordable than people might think.”


To learn more about DZ Wagyu, or to start an order, visit www.dzwagyu.com

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