Stillwater Style Spring 2019 - Page 17

W hen you meet Jaxton Secrest, you quickly realize he seems a little different than most high school juniors. The 17-year-old Stillwater High School student spends most of his time focused on working and growing the specialty beef company he began developing before he could drive. As the founder of Payne County Beef Co., Secrest is a familiar face for patrons of Stillwater’s Farmers Market, where he has been selling premium beef from grass-fed and grain-finished Wagyu cattle and grass-finished Aberdeen cattle since last year. Although Secrest says he wasn’t a show kid, he had a strong entrepreneurial drive. When the cattle that are raised to produce Japan’s famous Kobe beef caught his attention, it didn’t take long to develop the idea for a business. With a little help from his parents, Secrest began acquiring the genetics he needed to build his herd. He says he didn’t need a lot of help because he had been putting money away for something special. “I’m more of a saver,” he said. “This business seemed like a good thing to spend it on.” The Wagyu cattle breed is catching on in the U.S. but they’re still not very common. They are known for producing tender, heavily-marbled meat with an almost buttery flavor. While only meat from Taijima-gyu, a specific strain of Wagyu (“Wa” - Japanese + “-gyu” - cattle) that has been born, raised and processed under strict standards in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan, can carry the label Kobe beef, Black and Red Wagyu cattle with similar traits can be found in other countries. Think of it like the difference between Champagne and other, similar, sparkling wines. Kobe beef is known as the most expensive beef in the world with prices ranging from $110 to $500 a pound, and is rarely seen in the U.S. Jaxton Secrest is a 17-year-old Stillwater High School student who founded his own company selling premium Wagyu beef and grass-finished Aberdeen beef under the name Payne County Beef Co. His products are available at the Stillwater Farmers Market and online. He works with the Robert M. Kerr Food and Agricultural Products Center at Oklahoma State University and says he gets hand-on in the production process. Stillwater Style | SPRING 2019 17