Wagyu heifer sells for $400,000, setting record for Australia’s most expensive beef animal

A 13-month-old Wagyu heifer has become the most expensive beef animal ever sold in Australia, fetching $400,000 at this week’s Elite Wagyu Sale in Melbourne.

It surpassed the previous record of $325,000 set in Queensland during 2017 by Brahman bull, NCC Justified, sold by the Nobbs family to the Jefferis family.

The $400,000 heifer, known only as S0014, was put up for sale as lot number one in the catalogue, and was purchased by Yulong Invest.

Bidding started at just under $40,000 but quickly skyrocketed as buyers from around the world engaged in a fierce bidding war.

Wagyu steak on a chopping board
Wagyu is attracting increased attention as one of the premium beef options in Australia.(Supplied: Australian Wagyu Association)

Yulong sales manager Troy Stephens said the heifer was going to be the base from which they built their Wagyu herd.

“She’ll be a foundation animal for us here at Yulong; she’ll breed for many years to come,” he said.

“You’ve got to pull up at some stage, but we were really delighted to have secured her.

“The future looks bright.”

Breeder ‘shocked’ by price

S0014’s breeder Jonathan Elphick is a partner at Sunnyside stud, near Inverell in New South Wales.

He said he was shocked and amazed by the price.

“We actually thought there were some heifers in the catalog that were equal to or better [than her],” Mr Elphick said.

“I was watching online … it all happened so quick.

“It took me until yesterday afternoon to sit down and appreciate what she’d done.”

Record Wagyu heifer dirtyRecord Wagyu heifer dirty
troy stephens [left] and his Yulong Investments team meet the sellers of Sunnyside S0014.(Supplied: wagyu.org.au )

Heifers fetching more

Traditionally stud breeding has been all about the bulls.

Bulls like Texas Iceman, Paratrooper and NCC Justified have hogged the limelight and the bids at sales.

But as IVF and artificial insemination have grown in importance, so too has the role of high-value cows.

Two-year-old NCC Vindication standing in a paddockTwo-year-old NCC Vindication standing in a paddock
Previous record-holder, Brahman Bull NCC Justified, fetched $325,000 in 2017.(Supplied: KB Consulting)

The record set by S0014 is, in fact, $75,000 higher than the most expensive bull ever sold in Australia.

GDL Stud stock manager Harvey Weyman-Jones oversaw the sale and believed it was a turning point for the industry.

“They become a factory for embryos.

“She’ll go into embryo production now as a young unjoined 12-month-old heifer … when she slows down, she’ll be put in calf naturally.”

Mr Weyman-Jones said S0014 could have “anywhere between 10-20 calves on the ground through embryo production” by the time she had her first natural calf.

He believed S0014 would make his sale-price back, and more.

“She’ll easily do 40 calves over the next few years [and] at $10,000 a calf, that’s $400,000 straight away,” Mr Weyman-Jones said.

“I hope she’ll be one of those cows that can earn over $1 million in her lifetime.”

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