Article by: Hari Yellina
At this week’s Elite Wagyu Sale in Melbourne, a 13-month-old Wagyu cow became the most valuable beef animal ever sold in Australia, collecting $400,000. It broke the previous record of $325,000 established by NCC Justified, a Brahman bull sold by the Nobbs family to the Jefferis family in Queensland in 2017. Yulong Invest bought the $400,000 heifer, identified simply as S0014, which was put up for auction as lot number one in the catalogue. Bidding began at just under $40,000 but swiftly soared as buyers from all over the world competed for the prize. According to Yulong sales manager Troy Stephens, the heifer would serve as the foundation for their Wagyu herd. He explained, “She’ll be a cornerstone animal for us here at Yulong; she’ll reproduce for many years to come.”
“You have to pull up at some point, but we were ecstatic to have gotten her. “The future appears to be promising.” Jonathan Elphick, S0014’s breeder, is a partner at Sunnyside stud near Inverell, New South Wales. The price, he stated, astounded and surprised him. Mr Elphick explained, “We genuinely thought there were other heifers in the list that were comparable to or better [than her].” “I was watching it all unfold on the internet… it all happened so quickly. “I didn’t sit down and appreciate what she’d done until yesterday afternoon.” Bulls have always been the focus of stud breeding.
However, as the relevance of IVF and artificial insemination has grown, so has the role of high-value cows. S0014 broke the record by selling for $75,000 more than the most expensive bull ever sold in Australia. Harvey Weyman-Jones, stock manager at GDL Stud, managed the sale and saw it as a watershed moment for the industry. “They turn into an embryo factory.” “As a young unjoined 12-month-old heifer, she’ll move into embryo production now… She’ll be put in calf naturally as she slows down.” S0014 might have “somewhere between 10-20 calves on the ground through embryo development” by the time she has her first natural calf, according to Mr Weyman-Jones. He was confident that S0014 would recoup her sale price and more. “I hope she’ll be one of those cows that can earn over $1 million in her lifetime.”