The Most Expensive Beef Animal Ever Sold in Australia

Records were broken in April this year when a Wagyu beef heifer, aged 13 months, was sold for $400,000. The sale took place at the Elite Wagyu Sale in Melbourne. There were 70 bidders registered in the saleroom and 190 more were registered online.

The winning bidder was Yulong Invest and the price paid beats the previous record of $325,000 paid for Brahman bull NCC Justified, in 2017, in Queensland. The record price shows that Wagyu is a trusted market in Australia that is going to continue growing, helped by organisations such as the Australian Wagyu Association. That being said, there was still surprise when the record price was reached.

Key points

  •     The record for the most expensive beef animal sold in Australia was set in April 2022 when heifer S0014 was sold for $400,000.
  •       This price broke the previous record paid for Brahman bull NCC Justified, in 2017.
  •       The record price was paid by Yulong Invest, at the Elite Wagyu Sale in Melbourne.
  •     Heifers like S0014 are often attracting higher prices than bulls now due to developments in artificial insemination meaning they can produce more calves.

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Price paid by Yulong shocked breeder

One person who was truly shocked by the $400,000 selling price was the breeder of the heifer, known only as S0014. Jonathan Elphick, a partner at Sunnyside stud close to Inverell, New South Wales, stated that he thought there were other heifers of equal or better quality in the catalogue. So, he was amazed at the result.

The high price was the result of a bidding war between buyers in diverse global locations. Despite the substantial amount paid, Yulong sales manager Troy Stephens was delighted with the purchase. He said that the heifer would be a base for the company to build its Wagyu herd and that the future looked bright.

So, everyone seemed to be happy that the record had been broken with the buyers believing they have secured good value for the price. But what was behind the elevated amount paid and why are higher prices achieved for heifers now?

Why are heifers now fetching higher prices?

Traditionally, the highest prices have been paid for bulls. This is because stud breeding has always revolved round the bull. However, artificial insemination is changing things. There is now less emphasis on the role of bulls due to the progression of technology.

Millions of cows across the world are bred using this method each year. In Australia, around 1.5 million cows are inseminated annually. Most of these animals are dairy cows but the process is now becoming popular in the beef industry as well.

This means that cows can produce more calves than they would naturally. In the case of S0014, she will probably have around 10-20 embryos collected to be reared by surrogates before she is put in calf naturally. Overall, she should produce around 40 calves at a selling price of approximately $10,000 or upwards a calf. So, she will easily make back her purchase cost for the investors.

It’s clear that artificial insemination has changed the stud landscape and cows are able to produce more than the one expected calf a year. Given this information, its clear that heifers are likely to continue attracting high prices.

 

 

So, S0014 may be Australia’s most expensive beef animal right now but this may well change in the not-too-distant future as bidders recognise the potential returns to be had from buying a top heifer. It’s likely to be only a matter of time before records are broken again as bidders compete to secure the best heifers in premium markets like Wagyu.

 

 

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