World’s most expensive cow sets new record

FIV Mara Movéis, a three-year-old Nelore cow from Brazil valued at US$4 million, is the most expensive cow ever sold at auction, according to Guinness World Records.

The price realised for the cow, weighing 1100kg or twice the weight of an average adult of this breed, is three times that of the previous record holder.

According to the Associated Press (AP), although 80% of the cattle in Brazil were from the Zebu breed, a subspecies that originated in India, with a distinctive hump and dewlap, the Nelore was bred for meat, not milk.

“The cattle industry is a major source of Brazilian economic development, and the government is striving to conquer new export markets. The world’s top beef exporter, [Brazil], wants everyone, everywhere, to eat its beef,” the AP said.

Viatina-19 was constantly being monitored by security cameras and a veterinarian, and she had an armed guard on duty around the clock on the farm near Uberaba in the state of Minas Gerais, where she was being kept.

The owners erected two billboards showcasing the cow on the highway traversing the state, which attracted curious locals and busloads of veterinary students eager to view this ‘super cow’.

The AP reported that Viatina-19 was the product of years of effort to “raise meatier cows” in Brazil.

“The country’s prize winners are sold at high-stakes auctions [where the stakes are] so high that wealthy ranchers share ownership. They extract the eggs and semen from champion animals, create embryos and implant them in surrogate cows that they hope will produce the next magnificent specimens,” the AP reported.

Local veterinarian Lorrany Martins said the exceptional price paid for the cow was based on “how quickly she put on vast amounts of muscle, her fertility and, crucially, how often she has passed those characteristics on to her offspring.”.

“Breeders also value posture, hoof solidity, docility, maternal ability, and beauty. Those eager to level up their livestock’s genetics pay around US$250 000 [R4,7 million] for an opportunity to collect Viatina-19’s egg cells,” the report said.

Brazil, along with the US, was at the forefront of cattle genetics, and more in vitro fertilisation was being undertaken there than anywhere else in the world, according to João Henrique Moreira Viana, genetic resources and biotechnology researcher at the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation.

Viatina-19 has also won several awards, including ‘Miss South America’ at the Fort Worth, Texas-based ‘Champion of the World’ competition in the US, a bovine version of Miss Universe, where cows and bulls from around the world compete for top honours

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