After six days on the lam, the wandering Wagyu steer of Waldo county is back home with its herd and is no worse for wear after bolting from the Common Ground Country Fair last week, according to its owner.
“My son and I went searching for him [Wednesday] night with flashlights and found him with another herd,” Jason Stutheit, owner of the steer and operator of Pond Hill Farms in Brooks, said Thursday morning. “He’d actually gone back to the same farm he’d been spotted at Friday.”
The wily Wagyu — reportedly one of only two of the exotic beef steers in the state — made his escape Friday from the annual fair in Unity where he and his brother were to be on display.
Stutheit said the steer — called “70,” for short, for the yellow ear tag identification No. 970 — Was hanging out with another herd of cattle about a mile from the fairgrounds when located Wednesday evening.
“He looked healthy and happy,” Stutheit said. “The biggest chore was separating him away from that herd.”
It wasn’t exactly a wild rodeo roundup, but Stutheit and his son, after calling the farm’s owner and alerting them of the impending roundup, herded the cows, along with 70, into a barn where they were able to safely separate him from his new friends.
“It was around 8:30 when we finally got him loaded and home,” Stutheit said. “It was dark, but he seemed happy and was calling out to his brother and the rest of our herd.”
Pond Hill Farms also raises grass-fed Hereford and Angus cattle.
Prized for their flavorful, tender, marbled meat, Wagyu cattle are native to Japan, where they originally were used as a draft animal.
A Wagyu steak may be tasty, but it’s a somewhat pricey: A good cut can run more than $100 per pound in the U.S. Stutheit said he has $4,000 invested in his missing steer, which is destined for slaughter when it reaches maturity in three years.
“We are trying to develop the market for Wagyu,” Stutheit said. “It is a very tender meat with a different type of taste — a nice specialty meat.”
For now, Stutheit is just happy to have 70 home.
“It was a good ending and happy ending,” he said. “We were pretty relieved once we got him loaded up.”