Ever solid Chiyoji Okamura!
Last Friday after our superb lunch at Restaurant Bio-S, the owner Kazuhiro Matsuki/松木一浩 kindly drove me and my journalists friends, Camille Oger and Julien Morelo, through forests at the foot of Mount Fuji to Okamura Ranch.
Okamura Ranch is one of the three beef producers established at the foot of Mount Fuji (there are 13 in all the Prefecture).
View of Mount Fuji from Okamura Ranch!
Chiyoji Okamura/岡村千代次さん was born in Shiga Prefecture in 1955.
The fifth child of a large family there was little left for him back home.
Having graduated from Tokyo Agricultural University in 1978 he tried his hand at agriculture before coming to Fujinomiya City in 1990 to establish a beef producing ranch with 30 heads of cattle. He is now looking after 300+ heads throughout a year.
The meadows reserved to pregnant cows.
He basically breeds his own cows (there is not a single bull on the premises) from 2-months old calves bought from a calf breeder or breeds his own calves after having artificially inseminated his cows.
If a male is born he is castrated while females will be later inseminated.
Very healthy but a bit shy pregnant cows.
The cows are culled for meat after 24 months, a short time compared to meat cattle in Europe.
The abattoirs are located so far from the ranch that the cows never realize their fate and feel very little stress.
Interestingly enough, Mr. Okamura does not produce calves for meat.
A smiling cow!
The beef breed in Okamura Ranch is originally a hybrid of meat-producing cattle and milk-producing cattle.
The BSE problem a few years ago convinced him that the traceability of his meat was of the utmost importance.
He will always meet personally his clients, be they traders or restaurants, before he agrees to sell his meat to them.
In spite of the daily care (no holidays there) vital for the good health of his cows, Mr. Okamura and his wife seem happy enough to spend all their time on the ranch and in their enormous (by Japanese standards) house where they regularly hold bbq’s. After all the two of them look after the cows and have to assume all the roles of cattle farmers and veterinarians!
The cow sheds and the farm were all rebuilt in 2003 and Mr. Okamura’s Fujisan Beef was officially recogniszed as an independent beef brand by the Shizuoka Prefecture Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in 2006!
Each calf lives in its own shed for maximum comfort and well-being.
The sheds are a model of cleanliness!
What with Mount Fuji and the surrounding nature, there is no pollution and the water and natural grass are of superlative quality.
As for fodder Mr. Okamura imports it all from America through a very strictly regulated route.
The used straw and droppings are recycled as natural fertilizer for neighboring farmers.
All these animals need a lot of feed, mainly consisting of cereals including corn and barley!
Mr. Okamura’s own blend of feed devised trough his years of experience and experimenting make the difference!
The sheds are regularly cleaned and provided with fresh straw for maximum hygiene.
Mrs. Okumura takes charge of feeding the calves twice a day and of all the accounts of their business while Mr. Okamura takes care of all the rest.
Quite a few students ask to work with them as interns but only a few are accepted after careful screening.
A very hungry calf!
This is all extremely hard work and I very much doubt that the Okamuras will ever get fat. They are actually extremely fit and smiling and passionate in spite of their shyness.
Superlative meat difficult to surpass!
it was interesting to note, and Mr. Matsuki concurred, that Mr. Okamura produces an extremely tender red beef without the use of fat as found in other famed beef, a feat that will ask a lot to equal indeed!
Fujisan Okamura Ranch
418-0102 Fujinomiya Shi, Hitoana, 137-318
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