Tottori is proud of its delicious meat and beautiful cattle. Hoki Maeda Ranch, where father and son aim for a double crown.

Tottori is proud of its delicious meat and beautiful cattle. Hoki Maeda Ranch, where father and son aim for a double crown.

Hoki-cho is located in western Tottori Prefecture. There is a father and son raising cows at the foot of Daisen, the highest mountain in the Chugoku region. They are Michio and Hikaru Maeda of Hoki Maeda Farm. In this place rich in nature, they are committed to a stress-free life for their cows and continue to pursue the quality that is sought after throughout the country.

Benefiting from the nature-rich “Hoki Fuji

Hoki-cho is close to Yonago City in Tottori Prefecture and the border with Shimane Prefecture, with Mt. Daisen is different from different angles, and the mountains seen from the north and south are called the “north wall” and the “south wall” because they are like a series of walls. From Hoki-cho, located on the west side of Mt. Daisen, the mountains have a gently sloping shape with the foot of the mountain descending to the left and right. Blessed with black earth from the volcanic ash of Mt. Daisen and mineral-rich subsoil water, the area is ideal for agriculture and livestock farming. Maeda Farm raises cattle with the blessings of Hoki-Fuji.

From watermelon farmer to livestock farmer

Michio’s grandfather originally raised dairy cows and watermelons in this area. Under the influence of his grandfather, Michio also started growing watermelons, following his grandfather’s example. My grandfather told me to make watermelons in a new way. My grandfather told me to grow watermelons in a new way. Usually, one seedling would yield two or three watermelons, but I changed the method so that it would only yield one. I did that and won the top prize in Japan for watermelons, so I decided to become a cattle farmer to win the top prize in Japan for cows.

The area that used to be a watermelon field is now covered with grass for the cows to eat, creating a striking contrast with Mt.

Father becomes a fattening cattle breeder, son becomes a professional mating cattle breeder
The process of beef production is divided into two stages: “breeding,” where mother cows give birth to calves and raise them for sale, and “fattening,” where beef is raised for about 30 months after birth. While some farmers divide the work between the two, Maeda Farm is run as a breeding farm, with his son Kou in charge of mating and Michio in charge of fattening. Currently, they raise approximately 190 head of cattle, most of which are bred, and only 10 are fattened. They are unable to increase the number of fattening cows because of the rising cost of feed for fattening and the declining sales price due to the decrease in the consumption of beef.

Cattle need love and careful daily care.

Whether it is breeding or fattening, the important points in raising cattle are the same.

I always observe each cow. Just like with people, if I decide on a feeding time, I feed them at that time and let them take a nap. As long as the animals are kept in a stress-free manner, they will be fine,” says Michio.

If you change the food or the person feeding the cows on a daily basis, the cows will stop eating. That is why the same person feeds the cows at the same time every day, as much as possible. Each day, the staff deals with the individuality of each cow to find out what they dislike and how to make them feel comfortable. Calves that are afraid of people can affect their development, so it is important to get to know them well.

The cows spend their days in a lush green pasture with a magnificent view of Hoki-Fuji, drinking delicious water, and receiving milk from people they love. They are always thinking about how much stress they can eliminate from the cows’ daily lives.

For this reason, the two of them never take a day off. They do what they do because they love it,” laughs Kou. The calves are shipped less than 10 months after birth, so I have to think about how much I can put into them. How can I make them smile? That is my goal all the time.

The “Kyoshinkai,” the Olympics for Livestock Farmers

The two men, who are devoted to their cows, have one goal in mind. They have two goals: to be recognized in the prefectural cattle competition and to win first place in the National Wagyu Beef Proficiency Show, also known as the “Wagyu Olympics.

The competition is held once every five years for livestock farmers, and cattle are judged in a total of eight divisions, including one for their appearance and another for the balance of components and fat in their meat. In the “overall evaluation” category, multiple cattle are judged on both appearance and meat. In the appearance judging, cattle are evaluated on whether they have a beautiful coat and whether they can walk as they are trained to do. On the other hand, the meat judging is based on carcass volume, meat quality, fat quality, and other factors.

In the overall evaluation category, farmers in Tottori Prefecture are challenged not as individuals, but as a group, and the reason why they are so particular about this is their desire to promote Tottori Wagyu beef.

Aiming for “Hakuho 85-3,” the pride of Tottori

At the 2017 Miyagi competition, the “Hakuho 85-3” steer entered by Tottori Prefecture won first place in the nation in the overall evaluation category, beef cattle group. After that, his name became widely known, and the number of livestock farmers seeking Hakuho 85-3 increased. For livestock farmers, pedigree is the yardstick for sales. For livestock farmers, the pedigree is the yardstick for sales, as it determines the degree of sashi, the amount of meat, and the quality of the meat. The bloodline of the Shiraho 85-3 breed is considered to produce good meat, and calves can now be sold at a higher price than ordinary breeds.

The calves sell at a higher price at later auctions. Although the calves are not sold at the show and are only evaluated at the end of the show, the impact afterwards is significant.

Mr. and Mrs. Maeda participated in the 2022 Kagoshima event as Tottori Prefecture, and came in 10th place in the overall evaluation category (section 6) and 6th place in the fat quality evaluation category (section 7).

They said, “We put out cows that exceeded our own goals, and because it was a team competition, all the participants really wanted to win. We received good evaluations as a result. We will definitely win the next Hokkaido competition with everyone’s cooperation so that Tottori Wagyu will be evaluated and sought after nationwide, just like Hakuho 85-3,” said Michio enthusiastically.

Delicious meat and beautiful cows. Two crowns for father and son.

Kou, who participated in the 2022 Kagoshima event for the first time, plans to try not only meat next time, but also to compete in the female cow division, where her appearance will be judged. He said, “I was told that I should try out for the cow division, so I decided to do both. I want to win first place again for Tottori Prefecture, like I did with Hakuho 85-3. I think it would be interesting if this time we could accomplish that as father and son,” he says, showing his determination.

In order to be recognized for his appearance, he has to take care of his son every day. She has to wake up early in the morning, brush her fur with hot water, and train herself to stand in the same position for up to an hour. They have to work even harder than usual. It is no mean feat to train a cow while taking care of other cows, but he tells me that he is determined to make both delicious meat and beautiful cows.

To be an enlivening presence in Tottori Prefecture

In the pursuit of cattle that are recognized at auctions, the ultimate goal is still “delicious meat. However, in recent years, the livestock industry has been facing a difficult situation due to rising prices, and it is not easy to achieve both good taste and business management.

As an individual, I need to make Tottori Prefecture more exciting. The market will never go up unless everyone makes connections with people outside the prefecture and increases the number of people who come to buy. To that end, I plan to go out and increase my own connections,” says Kou. In addition to the cooperative associations and business partners, he also goes to Japanese-style pubs after work to meet people from a variety of industries.

He also asks customers who have purchased beef at the auction what they thought of the previous meat, and is always looking for ways to improve. Everyone recognizes that “Maeda Farm’s cattle are sure to be the best,” and they are sought after all over the country. In this way, the value of the meat will increase. He envisions such a future.

Currently, Mr. Kou is focusing on developing human resources. Once the human resources are nurtured, he will be able to devote more time to sales. Eventually, he intends to explore the possibilities for livestock farmers, doing everything from mating to sales in-house.


Hoki Maeda Farm
760-1-4 Ueno, Hoki-cho, Nishihaku-gun, Tottori