Chinese-owned Yulong Wagyu secures Australia's top-priced beef lot

Bryce Eishold
By Bryce Eishold
Updated May 2 2022 - 8:07pm, first published April 28 2022 - 4:30am
BIG VENDORS: Sandra and Peter Krause with daughter Robyn Elphick, Sunnyside Wagyu, Inverell, NSW, sold the top-priced $400,000 heifer at the Australian Wagyu Association Elite Wagyu Sale.

The buyers of Australia's highest-priced heifer say the future dam will form part of their plan to become an internationally-recognised Wagyu beef brand.

Vendor Sunnyside Wagyu sold the $400,000 heifer at the Australian Wagyu Association Elite Wagyu Sale in Melbourne on Wednesday night, well and truly eclipsing the stud's previous top heifer record of $65,000.

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Sunnyside Wagyu, based at Inverell, NSW, is run by Robyn and Jonathan Elphick and Robyn's parents, Peter and Sandra Krause.

It includes 250 pure Wagyu breeding females, as well as a crossbred component.

The massive price tag is Australia's highest-priced lot ever sold, smashing top-priced bull records.

Goulburn Valley-based Yylong Wagyu, owned by Chinese businessman Yuesheng Zhang, bought Sunnyside S0014 and said the heifer would be added to the stud's herd of pure Wagyu females.

"Our main aim is to produce full-blood Wagyu that perform at the highest level in the top 1 per cent," Yulong Wagyu racing, nominations and sales manager Troy Stephens said.

"We want to have a well-known brand and something that is internationally recognised to be trading at that top level."

The company, which farms about 1200 hectares, specialises in breeding thoroughbreds and stands Australia's champion sire, Written Tycoon, which costs $150,000 per joining to a thoroughbred mare.

In 2021, the company purchased two other heifers for $220,000 and $240,000, respectively, from the Mayura 3rd Annual High Performance Production Sale.

"We're relatively new investors in Wagyu, but our core focus at the moment is selecting the highest performing animals," Mr Stephens said.

"We're investing heavily in our bloodlines to achieve this so it will mirror our blue chip thoroughbreds."

The heifer in question will be used as a foundation heifer for the stud, which has an additional 10 purebred Wagyus in its arsenal.

INDUSTRY: The buyers, vendors and dignatries pictured at the Melbourne event on Wednesday.

Speaking from Melbourne following the Wagyu sale, vendor Robyn Elphick said her family was still "pinching themselves" after the record-smashing result.

"We're in a state of shock to be honest because we were confident she would sell well, but we certainly weren't expecting that record or such an outstanding result," she said.

"For us personally, our previous top price was $65,000 so we were naturally blown away."

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The unjoined 13-month-old heifer was sired by Arubial Bond MYMFQ007, and out of PSKFP0362 Sunnyside P0362.

"(The heifer) boasts a balanced combination of marbling as well as carcase size," Sunnyside Wagyu said before the sale.

"With a good spread of high performing EBV's, this female sits within the top 1 per cent across all indexes."

The heifer's grand sire on the maternal side was well-known bull Macquarie Wagyu Y408.

"My parents came into Wagyu nearly 25 years ago after being commercial Angus breeders," Ms Elphick said.

"They started small but have built up over the years but now we run about 250 animals in our full-blood stud and then we have a crossbred component as well."

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The NSW breeder, who sits on the Australian Wagyu Association board, estimated prices at the Melbourne sale for heifers were up by an average of $50,000 on year-ago prices.

"There's so much confidence in the industry and in genetics and the Wagyu name is continuing to grow and expand," she said.

"Traditionally Japan has been our strongest market but the international membership that's coming in from across the world shows the breed is growing internationally and not just in Australia.

"The domestic demand is also growing in Australia because people want to experience luxury beef and that's because we're becoming more conscious consumers of what we eat."

She said one of the biggest changes the industry had experienced in recent years was changes to genomic data collection, allowing breeders to select studstock animals earlier than ever before.

"We have twins that are five and a seven-year-old daughter and they're only young but they have an interest in what we do," Ms Elphick said.

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"We hope the beef industry and Wagyu stays positive so our kids have a future in the industry."

Buyers of $400,000 record-breaking Wagyu heifer reveal their plans
Bryce Eishold

Bryce Eishold

Journalist

Bryce is an agricultural journalist for Australian Community Media's Stock & Land. He covers all aspects of ag from markets to politics and everything in between. Bryce is also the president of the Rural Press Club of Victoria. Email bryce.eishold@stockandland.com.au.

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