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Local Farm Spotlight: C Free Farm

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C Free Farm uses an eco-friendly, solar-powered irrigation system to supply their cattle with fresh clean water and to water their pastures.

Kelly Greene - Greene Publishing, Inc.

C Free Farm (CFF), which is a cow and calf seedstock ranch, serves as a genetic supplier with the finest quality of 100 percent full-blood Wagyu cattle. Thier vision is to offer high quality 100 percent full-blood cattle directly to the consumer with breeding stock, which includes: Wagyu genetics, sexed semen, and embryos.

CFF is a member of the American Wagyu Association, Texas Wagyu Association, Florida Cattlemen’s Association, and Georgia Cattlemen’s Association. They are family-owned and operated by Tom and Charleen Shaske and located next door to the Organic Blueberry Farm, in Pinetta. The CFF property has beautiful rolling hills of lush, green pastures with large oak trees and a water pond. The water pond which is used to irrigate the pastures, is naturally filled by rainwater and overflow from Cherry Lake.

CFF is eco-friendly, using solar panels to produce energy to supply fresh clean water to their cattle and the solar power is used to operate the irrigation system to water their pastures. The solar panels create enough energy to pump water from the pond and run three small portable irrigation sprinklers. Since the cattle's water system is solar powered, this creates a more cost effective system which has less of an impact on the environment.

CFF's 100 percent full-blood Wagyu cattle are carefully monitored through every stage of the herd’s growth; beginning with the cattle being raised in an all-natural environment, in wide-open lush green pastures, with fresh water. The cattle are given free choice liquids with a molasses based protein supplement and loose salt mineral supplements. “A healthy environment helps Wagyu cows produce strong calves,” added CFF's owner Charleen. “Our cattle are fed superior peanut vine hay, crabgrass, Pensacola Bahia, Coastal Bermuda, and perennial peanut, and are on a special blend of minerals and clean water. There are absolutely no animal by-products in our cattle feed.”

CFF has been in the Wagyu business for many years with cattle herd averages from 40 to 70 head. Wagyu is translated from Japanese to English with: Wa meaning Japanese; and Gyu meaning cow. There are four breeds or strains of Wagyu with only the Japanese Black and Japanese Brown (Kumamoto line) available outside Japan. In the U.S, Wagyu are bred for the superior meat quality traits and calving easability and are used in terminal meat programs with breeds, like Angus and Holstein, to increase the meat quality grade.

The cattle at CCF all come from phenomenal pedigrees which come from some of the most sought after genetic lines in the Wagyu breed. These cattle are daughters and granddaughters of the original bulls that arrived in the U.S. back in the 1970’s and 1990’s through the bloodline of bulls or through semen that was imported from the following breeds: Fukutsuru-068, Michifuku, Haruki, Kikuyasu 400, Takazakura, Itomichi ½, Kikuhana, Hirashigetayasu, Kitateruyasu, Shigefuku, Kitatsurukiku Doi, Dia 6 Seizan, Yasufuku Jr, Itoshigefuji, Itoshigenami, Itozuru Doi, Kikuterushige, Sanjirou, Shigeshigetani, Kitaguni Jr, and Mitsuhikokura.

Cattle at CCF are medium to large framed cows, having excellent disposition and are very easy to work with and around. “They all have shown wonderful maternal instincts and exceptional milking abilities,” added Charleen. “We provide 100 percent full-blood Wagyu seed stock for other farmers or ranchers to increase beef quality, and profitability by introducing 100 percent full-blood Wagyu bulls or cows into a commercial herd or full-blood herd.”

Charleen explained that the cattle at CCF have docile temperaments and are easier to handle than other bovine breeds. “The Wagyu breed are hardy and adaptable to Florida's climate and other environments,” added Charleen.

She went on to explain that the Wagyu breed are very fertile and bulls have a high-serving capacity at the young age of 10 to 12 months. CFF separates heifer and bull calves at a weaning age to prevent interbreeding and never use any growth hormones or GMO feeds or supplements. They also do their own in-house vaccination, castration, al'ing,  de-horning and embryo heifer and bull development.

CFF has entered heifers in the Florida Heifer Development Program which is offered at  University of Florida in the Institute of Food and Agricultural Science department. “This gives us a chance to improve and learn a different approach to developing heifers,” said Charleen.  “There’s going to be a great deal of data UF will be sharing with owners of heifers.”

CFF also tests its cattle for the Exson 5 gene which determines the economic characteristics which include growth rate and marbling. This growth hormone is one of the peptide hormones and has an impact on the growth of cattle by controlling energy flow in the body. GH animals that are Exson 5 carriers are very rare. Cattle with these genes present have been known to improve the cattle herd's performance and is especially good for cattle breeders. Charleen said at CFF they have two cattle that have the Exson 5 gene.

These 100 percent full-blood Wagyu cattle are very expensive because they are from rare, sought-out bloodlines. The main reason these cattle are such a sought after commodity is related to the Stearoyl CoA Desaturase (SCD) protein that is encoded by the SCD gene which is the enzyme that changes saturated fatty acid and generates a harder fat with a higher melting point into an unsaturated fatty acid that results in a softer fat with a lower melting point. SCD typing in Wagyu is designed to aid in the selection of cattle with the inheritable genetic coding that produces a superior fat composition. Saturated fat is not only healthier for the consumer, it is much more desirable because it tastes better.

The USDA beef grading chart is different for 100 percent Wagyu cattle than that of other breeds, due to their superior marbling and tenderness characteristics. USDA uses a different special grading scale or chart, with typical cattle grades at prime and choice and can double or triple normal prime gradings.

According to Charleen, 100 percent full blooded Wagyu cattle are auctioned anywhere from $7,000 to $44,000, or through a private treaty, $4,000 and up depending on factors. CFF sells cattle through private treaty at: Texas Wagyu Auction, located in Co.; Wagyu Auction; American Wagyu Association Classifieds, and other sites.

CFF raises their Wagyu steers for beef consumption and they aren't cheap. They slaughter at 28 or 29 months of age for optimal marbling and tenderness in the meat and use a USDA slaughter house in Ga. Charleen points out that the majority of American Kobe beef purchased in restaurants is not   100 percent full-blood Wagyu.

She went on to say that consumers need to be aware when they go to buy a Wagyu animal and need to ask the owner for proof by DNA. The American Wagyu Association uses GeneSeek Lab for DNA testing for Wagyu animals and are given registration paper work that will authenticate the animals as Wagyu and verify what percentage, which is either: 100 percent full-blood; 99.8 percent purebred; or F1 to F4 percentage. “There are people selling animals claiming they are Wagyu, when the animals do not have any Wagyu DNA in them,” added Charleen.“ At CFF we register all our animals, even steers sold live on the hoof to a customer, leave the farm with a registration.”

For any questions concerning C Free Farms, visit their website at cfreefarms.com, e-mail Charleen at Charleen@cfreefarms.com or cfreefarms@yahoo.com, or by calling (863) 397-6797.

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