Columbia Farmers Market

the farmers behind the market

Lage Farms: Raising Wagyu beef for health and flavor

Since 2001, Wilbur Lage and Kaye Nilges have raised beef from farm to table. Originally Angus farmers, they now produce grass-fed and grass-finished Wagyu cattle as well as grass-fed and grain-finished Wagyu cattle on Lage Farms, a ranch overlooking the Osage River south of Jefferson City. Beginning in 2014, Kaye has been selling their beef and meeting customers face-to-face at Columbia Farmers Market.

Wilbur has been in the cattle business for 30 years. In the 1990s, he became interested in grass-finished cattle, and he researched the benefits of grass-fed Wagyu beef — sometimes also known as “American Kobe.” He started raising and selling his own Wagyu beef in 2008. In 2013, he began finishing some of the animals on a vegetarian diet. “The flavor of this meat is just phenomenal,” Wilbur said. “Our goal has been to provide consumers with the healthiest, tastiest, most tender Wagyu beef at an affordable price,” he said.

Both Wilbur and Kaye enjoy interacting with and caring for Wagyu cattle. 

“They are beautiful, docile, refined animals that are a pleasure to be around,” he said. The cattle graze on clover, alfalfa, and other legumes, as well as wheat and rye grass, reeds canary grass, brome, orchard grass, and eastern gramma grasses. “We believe that the forage consumed by our Wagyu cattle contribute to the succulent, tasty flavor of our beef.” 

The animals are also antibiotic- and growth-hormone free. A deep water well provides fresh water for the cattle throughout the farm.

Wilbur, a member of the American Wagyu Association, believes that “Wagyu genetics are the biggest contributor to the quality of beef we provide. Almost all Wagyu cattle consumed in the United States are only one-half Wagyu. We produce a lot higher percentage Wagyu, including full-blooded Wagyu cattle.” Their farm produces an above prime, restaurant-quality beef, scarce in the United States. 

Through the farmers market, they can sell directly to the public.

“Kaye has developed relationships with many friendly customers,” and she looks forward to seeing them each week, Wilbur said. “We enjoy the customers’ delight, in knowing their beef comes straight from our farm to their tables.”

The farm is listed on websites, such as WAGYU.ORG, and The American Wagyu Association. Lage Farms sells to restaurants, including Barred Owl Butcher & Table, natural food stores, through its website, LAGEFARMS.COM, and, of course, at the farmers market.

“Our goal has been to provide consumers with the healthiest, tastiest, most tender Wagyu beef at an affordable price."
-Wilbur Lage

crockpot wagyu roast

Wil Lage and Kaye Nilges share a favorite recipe for cooking a Wagyu roast.
get the recipe
Columbia Farmers Market
Website and Branding by Hoot Design Co.
Photography by Drew Piester.