Luxury wagyu beef producer Mayura Station pays world record price of $92,000 for four embryos

South Australian Wagyu beef operation Mayura Station has paid a world record price for genetic material.

The Millicent-based company spent $23,000 per embryo for four embryos from Canada, which will become breeding stock for its herd.

Managing director Scott de Bruin said he paid the price because it was an offering too good to pass up.

“These are really high-marbling genetics,” he said.

“They will help us keep improving our marble score, which is the intramuscular fat within the muscle.

“[This breeder’s] one of the oldest breeders outside of Japan, who has acquired some of the highest quality genetics in the world, and he doesn’t release them very often.

“These embryos are likely to produce two calves … it’s only a small number of stock but these animals can then have an influence on your breeding program by continuing to improve the quality of the meat that their progeny produce.”

Records abound

The embryos were bought via auction at the Australian Wagyu Association’s 2020 Elite Wagyu Sale, which sold $1.26 million worth of genetics to buyers from 11 countries.

Semen sold by the station reached the highest bids at the auction, peaking at $4,300 per straw.

But it was not the first time Mayura genetics had fetched a high price.

In March a world record was set when a semen pack fetched $68,000 per straw at the company’s inaugural high performance production sale.

Mr de Bruin said that the bull, Itoshigenami Junior, is renowned as the premier carcass bull outside of Japan.

“We don’t release these genetics often,” he said.

Wagyu cattle use their muscles at battery cells to store fat. When heated the marbling melts and creates very tender beef.(ABC: Sarah Maunder)

Front of the pack

Mr de Bruin said advances in artificial breeding technology had encouraged buyers to spend more.

“From one semen straw they might be able to produce 30 calves,” he said.

“While it seems like a great sum of money for one straw … you’re actually averaging that cost out over a lot of calves, so it doesn’t end up being that expensive.”

Mr de Bruin said only a small amount of elite Wagyu breeding cattle were in existence.

“In Australia, we’ve been leading the world outside Japan in being able to do genomic improvement and genomic descriptions of our cattle,” he said.

“So they come with estimated breeding values which are genomically enhanced.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the market for Wagyu beef, which primarily supplies the food service industry, but Mr de Bruin is looking to the long-term.

“It’s very important that we continue with the strategy that we’ve put in place,” he said.

“And then supply into South East Asia and high-quality restaurants when they reopen.”

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