Emma Farms rules Wagyu class at National Western Stock Show
Aspen CO Colorado
DENVER – An Emma rancher had all six of his Wagyu cows and bulls win or place Wednesday in the first-ever exhibition competition for the breed at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.
Tom Waldeck of Emma Farms had two first-place awards, one second-place finish and three third-place finishes. Two of his cattle were grand champions in their classifications, and one was also runner-up to the supreme grand champion among the Wagyu breed.
Wagyu, a breed developed in Japan, previously were never shown at the National Western Stock Show because there weren’t enough U.S. ranchers raising them. They reached the critical mass necessary to have an exhibition competition this year. There needed to be at least 50 entries, and there were 65 cattle shown.
Waldeck said prior to the competition he wanted to show his cattle as much to draw attention to the breed and their growing presence in Colorado as much as for winning. He accomplished both.
Waldeck is working with two partner ranches near Hotchkiss to develop the largest purebred Wagyu herd in Colorado. They have about 300 head. About 50 are kept on Waldeck’s Emma Farms, the former Cerise Ranch in the heart of Emma.
“We’re building a Colorado industry,” Waldeck said.
Wagyu beef is known for its distinctive buttery taste. It takes about twice as long as other breeds for Wagyu steers to reach an age when they can be butchered, so the cost of raising Wagyu cattle is high. Wagyu hamburgers and steaks are sold by high-end restaurants.
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Interstate 70 is closed Wednesday afternoon at mile-markers 109 (South Canyon) and 114 (West Glenwood) in both directions due to a fire, according to a 3:11 p.m. notification from Garfield County Emergency Communications Authority.