The honorable winner of the Distinction Award at the Kyorei Kai cattle show in the first year of the Reiwa Era was Mirai Farm. But it was Takayoshi Iyori, president of Iyori Farm, who accepted the winner’s pennant at the award ceremony. Mirai Farm works with a select number of farms across the country in a bid to raise more cattle, and Iyori Farm is one of them. Iyori says he had confidence in the quality of the beef, but was baffled when he was suddenly asked to accept the pennant on the day of the ceremony. He says the award was really for Mirai Farm. Meanwhile, Mirai Farm’s managing director Hideto Maki says Iyori Farm deserves to take the credit for the award and told us to make sure to write about all the charms of Iyori Farm. It was inspiring to see the two men holding each other in high esteem. Maki and Iyori had known each other as rival bidders at auctions. The two men tell us they share a passion for beef and used to have a chat quite often. Maki says of Iyori, “I always admired the quality of his farm’s beef.” Five years ago, Maki heard from Iyori that he was having financial difficulties in opening a farm in Tanba on top of his farm in Himeji City. Maki told Iyori, “We’ll place our cows in your care,” and suggested outsourcing the fattening process of Mirai Farm’s cattle to Iyori. That was the beginning of their teamwork, which bore fruit with the winning of the award. We asked Maki whether he had no qualms about entrusting the care of many cows to a new farm. Maki answered, “I had seen the high quality of carcasses from cattle raised by Iyori millions of times. And above all, I felt reassured when I heard that Iyori’s eldest son Tomoyuki would be playing a central role at the new farm. At the moment, 300 of our cattle are being taken care of at Iyori’s farm, but we would like to place more cows in their care really.” As Maki mentioned, Tomoyuki is the key person at the Iyori Farm in Tanba.
The strength of Iyori Farm is having its own vet
Iyori’s eldest son Tomoyuki obtained a veterinary license at Rakuno Gakuen University in Hokkaido. Tomoyuki was fond of Hokkaido and made the choice to work there as a vet for dairy cattle, which give birth frequently and also get ill often. He had intended to stay in Hokkaido for a while, but made the decision to return to Hyogo after his father became ill. Tomoyuki’s position at the new farm is the vet, which is also his title on his business card. He chose to have someone else serve as the head of the farm. Tomoyuki says, “Apart from me, there are only four staff members here, all of them in their 20s. Young people are quick learners and are highly motivated, so the work can be done even with a small number of people. Working hours are from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. including two hours of rest. Staff get two days off every week. No young person would be willing to take on this work unless we ensure at least such working conditions.” For example, the farm has mechanized the feeding process to shorten work hours. The cattle barns are structured in a way that allows staff to feed the cows from a forklift, so that three staffers can feed 850 cows in less than 90 minutes. Tomoyuki says his father fully agreed with the idea of creating a farm that puts workers first. Tomoyuki jokingly says, “All the staff engage in their work positively, so my work as a vet is easy.” Maki quickly points out, “The presence of a vet is assuring. It’s an ideal environment to have a vet who can catch early signs of a cold in a cow because that prevents symptoms from getting serious.” Early detection and treatment protects the farm. Actually, when the farm first opened, a lot of cows became ill and conditions were unstable at the farm. Using data from those days, Tomoyuki now devotes his work to checking the health of the cattle.
An innovative farm’s endeavor for the future
Maki speaks very highly of the farm that is packed with Tomoyuki’s ideas other than the mechanized feeding system, calling it a state-of-the-art farm. The farm sells electricity made using solar panels fitted on the rooftops of the barns, and uses the money to help fund its operations. The farm also has an automated working area for packing bags, where bags labeled “cow manure compost” can be seen. “We make compost there every day,” Tomoyuki says, pointing towards a spacious roofed area where a large drill slowly churns the huge pile of manure. Disposal of cow manure is a headache for cattle farmers. In the old days, manure was used as fertilizers in nearby fields. But now, with fewer farms around, manure has nowhere to go. Iyori Farm built a company on the farm grounds that manufactures manure compost. Thanks to this facility, the farm is able to frequently renew the sawdust bedding for the cows. The farm is aiming to establish a local circulation agriculture, in which clean bedding ensures the health of cows, manure from healthy cattle helps plants grow, and some of those plants become cattle feed. As a part of this movement, Iyori Farm uses “ecofeed,” which is animal feed made from food waste that includes dregs from beer and whiskey. Ecofeed continues to ferment and the food waste easily goes bad, so managing the feed is also an important work. Maki, who comes to see the cows once or twice a month says, “The feed must be really delicious. The cows we bring here fatten up very fast.” Iyori recalls, “The winning cow was small in the beginning.” He then offers subtle praise to his son. “Farmers like me draw on experience when raising cattle, but my son is more of an intellectual type, using data and material in his cattle raising.” Seeming a little embarrassed, Tomoyuki says, “To be honest, relying on data feedback alone didn’t produce good results at first. It made me realize the importance of my father’s experience.”
Tomoyuki’s wife is also a vet and an expert on breeding. She is now learning about cattle fattening and hopes to eventually put to use her breeding expertise at the farm. Tomoyuki’s younger brother is now undergoing training at a different farm after graduating from the same university as Tomoyuki. Iyori Farm has a strong blueprint for the future. Iyori Farm continues to raise good quality cattle through a friendly rivalry and understanding between father and son at the Himeji and Tanba farms. There’s no mistake they will also keep on developing their amazing relationship with Mirai Farm. It will be exciting to see even more delicious Kobe Beef come out of their partnership.