We started our first ranch in Costa Rica about 35 years ago, in 1980. We began by raising Brahman cattle like everyone else. Brahman are known for their ability to thrive in hot tropical climates. And they have a relatively huge, meaty rump compared to other cattle breeds. But Brahman are not known for tender meat.
So about 15 years ago, we began a quest to create cattle hybrids that maintained the tropical heat tolerance and large rump of the Brahman, but also incorporated the superior meat quality of the European cattle breeds.
We started by importing Red Angus genetics from the renowned 5L Ranch in Montana. The bull we used is called Norseman King, and he is one of the most-impressive examples of the breed.
The offspring from this genetic cross are very impressive animals. They are long, well structured, extremely fertile, as well as very gentle and curious. The cows from this cross are especially good mothers.
The introduction of Red Angus into our herd was an enormous leap forward in terms of meat quality. But then, a little more than 4 years ago, we had an opportunity to dramatically improve meat quality again, by acquiring semen from 4 different bloodlines of Japanese Wagyu.
You may not recognize the breed name, Wagyu, but you probably recognize the term “Kobe beef.” Kobe beef comes from Wagyu cattle raised in Japan’s Hyogo Prefecture. Kobe is more like a trademark — only meat from Wagyu cattle raised in Hyogo can be called Kobe.
We chose Wagyu cattle because this breed has some interesting and unique characteristics. They have the highest genetic propensity to produce marbled meat. Marbling is what makes beef tender, juicy, and flavorful.
Wagyu meat is also unique in that it has the highest “good fat to bad fat” ratio of all the cattle breeds. It is also extremely rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. It is so unusually healthier than other beef that some people describe it as the “olive oil of animal fats.”
Today, we have more than 1,100 cattle on our ranches. Of those, only the very best will be selected for our artisan beef program. They are then given additional pampering and care, and we maintain extremely strict health protocols for them. If one of these animals is ever injured or ill, and requires a life-saving treatment of antibiotics, it is then removed from our artisan beef program.
Just to be absolutely clear … all of the beef we sell under the Hacienda Sur name is guaranteed to have never had any contact whatsoever with antibiotics. Never.
We guarantee the same for hormones. Some cattle producers give their animals growth hormones so they grow faster and bigger. Others give their cows estrogen so they all come into heat at the same time. We completely disagree with both practices. We have never used hormones on our cattle, and we never will.