This article was originally published by The Telegraph. Click here to read the original article.
It used to be just bulls that sold for hundreds of thousands of pounds at cattle auctions, with their female counterparts rarely at the centre of bidding wars.
But now a Limousin heifer called Wilodge Poshspice has changed everything, after smashing the record to become Britain’s most expensive cow, selling for £262 000 (±R5 319 329).
Breakthroughs in in vitro fertilisation (IVF) methods mean heifers are no longer looked down upon by breeders, as they can now potentially have hundreds of offspring as opposed to just a handful of calves born naturally. As such, their value has soared.
Prior to the scientific breakthroughs, it was down to the bulls to do the heavy lifting by inseminating as many heifers as possible – making them the stars of auctions.
The record-breaking fee – double the previous record for a female Limousin cow – was settled at an auction in Cumbria in North West England, following a fierce bidding war between rival breeders keen to get their hands on her prized genetic make-up.
Poshspice’s embryos can now be sold for several thousands of pounds each to dozens of other breeders for artificial insemination in their own herd in the hope that the cows will produce equally good progeny.
Heifer fetches higher price than bulls
The sum fetched at Borderway Mart in Carlisle not only doubled the £131 250 (+/-R2 664 481) record set in 2014 for the Limousin heifer Glenrock Illusion but also far exceeded the record £147 000 (+/-R2 984 219) paid for the Limousin bull, Trueman Jagger, in October 2015.
Will Ketley, breed secretary of the British Limousin Cattle Society, said: “Bulls used to fetch large amounts at auctions because their semen was harvested and used with many cows.
“Developments in IVF mean you can now get many embryos from the heifers for insemination in other cows for breeding, driving their value up.
“The buyers will recoup their money through breeding and the sale of both their cows’ progeny and their embryos.”
The amount paid for Poshspice is believed to be the highest price ever paid for a heifer in the UK and across Europe for any breed.
“Poshspice’s sire is one of the most recognised bulls in the Limousin breed, and all this is reflected in her price tag.” – The Telegraph