Hanwoo cattle are an important food source in Korea and their supply can have a major impact on meat availability for Korean consumers. The Hanwoo population was 1.8 million head in 2005 and gradually increased to 2.6 million in 2015. Per capita beef consumption has also increased, to 11.6 kg per year in 2015, and is expected to continue to increase. Because intramuscular fat percentage is a critical contributor to meat quality, Hanwoo cattle are fed a high-energy corn-based diet for long fattening periods. Long fed diet causes significant alterations in fat percentage in the loin muscle and other areas of the carcass. However, these long feeding periods increase feeding costs and beef prices. Recently, there has been increased Korean consumer demand for lean beef which has less fat, but is tender and priced more reasonably. These consumer demands on the Korean beef industry are driving differing beef production systems and also changes to the beef grading methodology. Korean government has made a significant investment to select bulls with favorable production traits using progeny testing. Progeny tested bull semen has been disseminated to all Hanwoo farmers. A beef traceability system has been employed for all cattle breeds in Korea since 2009. Hanwoo cattle are ear-marked with a 12-digit identification number from birth to slaughter. This number allows traceability of the management history of individual cattle, and also provides information to consumers. Traceability including management information such as herd, farm, year of birth, and carcass data can determine estimated breeding values of Hanwoo. For a sustainable Hanwoo industry, research scientists in Korea have attempted to develop feeds for efficient fattening periods and precision feeding systems based on genetic information for Hanwoo cattle. These initiatives aim to Korean consumer demands for beef and provide more precision management in beef production in Korea.
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