MABTON — When asked about how Martin Cervantes was inspired to venture into farming Wagyu beef at his Whispering Wires Ranch, the 42-year-old pinpointed a meal he’d had at a high-end steak house in Las Vegas as the beginning of his journey.
After experiencing the savory, mouth-watering, high marbling Wagyu steak in Vegas, no other meal he’d had since then tasted the same.
When Martin arrived back to Washington, he looked high and low to find Wagyu beef in the valley, however, he could not. His wife, Vanessa, communicated, “You kind of have to go to Seattle and even then, it’s pretty scarce.”
“There wasn’t anybody in (the Yakima Valley) raising that kind of beef,” Martin imparted. So, he thought to himself, “Well, better produce my own!”
The Cervantes’ have been in the business of producing the beef originating from Japan for a year and a half, after three years of extensive research.
After finding a breeder, Martin explained, “I found some land, got a truck and a trailer, then we went and bought five cows and a bull. We have calves right now, a few steers, but that’s where it all started.”
While Martin has his plate full working full time at his own electrical contracting business, Cervantes Electric Service, and at Hanford, he checks in on the family ranch in the evening. Vanessa mans the helm during the daytime, often caring for the herd three to four times a day or more, depending on the weather.
Whispering Wires Ranch – so named for the whispering sound the wind makes passing through the surrounding hot wire – is located on the Sunnyside Mabton Highway, just off the Waneta Grange. The Cervantes’ travel from their home in Grandview to check in on their cattle, which also includes Angus beef.
“I’m on a really close, hands on basis with them…I feed, just make sure everyone has what they need and any care that they need, I’m there. We just have so much invested,” Vanessa elaborated.
Time and care is imperative when raising their full-blood, Wagyu beef. The 43-year-old rancher says her time, care, and providing a low-stress environment contributes to the quality of the beef.
The nutrition the Wagyu receive is a well-kept secret, something even the breeders would not deign to reveal when the Cervantes’ purchased their herd. Part of the Martin’s research involved them speaking to Wagyu ranchers from Japan and now the Cervantes’ also keep the secret feed close to their vest.
“It’s just a matter of feeding them outright and the care of them that makes the beef so rich,” Vanessa conveyed.
The constant regimen of nutrition is a key factor in their intense marbling — the intramuscular fat giving the meat its rich flavor. Vanessa clarified the marbling is also in the DNA of Wagyu and has tremendous health benefits.
The drawbacks to having Wagyu beef is the time span it takes to breed out. Wagyu beef can go anywhere from 28-32 months whereas an Angus in their prime is about 18 months.
As a result, the family ranchers are attempting to try their hand at cross breeding their Angus heifer with a Wagyu bull, obtaining the American Wagyu beef. They intend to test the quality of the beef so they can produce a bigger steak with the marbling of a Wagyu at a lesser price.
The price being another factor the Cervantes’ keep in mind. “It’s (Wagyu) pricier than your Black Angus, but the benefits, to me, outweighs the price,” Vanessa shared.
She described the health benefits of Wagyu as having, “…more protein than a wild caught salmon.”
The Cervantes family shared that their love for Wagyu beef is so deep, they don’t buy beef products from the store anymore. Vanessa emphasized, “We just don’t do it. Ever since we got into this and tried the Wagyu and decided to buy, we just don’t buy store meat anymore.”
Wagyu beef is high in monosaturated fats, contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, oleic acids, and helps with cholesterol levels. According to Vanessa, it has the lowest levels of cholesterol than any of the meat out there.
She beamed, “The taste is completely different than any type of beef. It’s amazing!”