Mawarra Ultra Star is Herefords Australia's new top-priced Wodonga bull

Bryce Eishold
By Bryce Eishold
Updated May 17 2022 - 5:29am, first published May 12 2022 - 1:18am

A six-figure price tag for a Hereford bull bred by an American sire has broken a previous top-priced record set at the Herefords Australia National Sale in Wodonga after it was purchased by a Drillham, Qld, buyer.

The $130,000 May 2020-drop bull, Mawarra Ultra Star R182, went under the hammer on Thursday morning in northern Victoria a day after claiming the grand champion at the 57th Hereford show.



The impressive sale-topping future sire was sold by Sykes family of Mawarra Genetics, Longford, in Gippsland and bought by return client, Queensland-based Devon Court Herefords, which bought the southern stud's top-priced $35,000 bull during its on-property sale in autumn this year.

Mawarra Genetics stud principals Peter and Deanne Sykes were ecstatic following the result.

"This is the highest price we've ever got," Mr Sykes said.

"He's always stood out ever since he was a calf and his cow produced another brother that topped out bull sale as well so the breeding line is fantastic."

Overall, 59 junior bulls sold to a top price of $35,000 to average $12.,848, while 42 senior bulls sold to a top price of $130,000 to average $20,119.

In total, 106 bulls were offered for sale to average $16,278 across the draft.

The impressive result comes 12 months after the Mawarra team topped the 2021 national sale with a top-priced bull of $103,000, recording a sale average of $41,428.

Mawarra Ultra Star was sired by US bull NJW 79Z Z311 Endure 173D and out of Mawarra Tabitha 043.

The bull is in the top 1 per cent of the breed for six individual Estimated Breeding Values and all of the breed's indexes.

"He's a real industry bull and his carcase is phenomenal which is something the beef industry is looking for," Mr Sykes, who sold 10 bulls in the sale, said.

"His data is fantastic; he has moderate birth, good growth and huge carcase numbers.

"It's like the saying goes 'quite often the dear bulls are the cheap ones in the end' and this bull is an investment in the future."


Mrs Sykes credited the stud's success to its passionate team.

"We have a full-time employee, a young apprentice who has just started full-time with us and all our children and their partners who are involved so it's phenomenal to get results like this," she said.



Lot 87, Yarrandabbie Richard R004, was the second top-priced bull and went hammer for $70,000.

The June 2020-drop bull cosigned by the Kyneton stud, sired by Glendan Park Panama P004 and out of Yarrandabbie Elaine P011, was bought by Injemira Genetics, Book Book, NSW.

Mawarra Genetics' also sold the third top-priced bull , Lot 109 Mwarra Justify R265, which sold for $60,000 to the Campion family of Amos-Vale Herefords, Pinkett, NSW.

Qld stud has big plans for future Hereford sire

Devon Court Herefords stud principal Tom Nixon, Drillham, Qld, runs the stud with his brother, Alex Nixon, and said he relied on the solid genetics offered at Wodonga each year.

"It's a place where you can get the best of the best and you get to see some really good bulls," he said.

"The price tags are what they are but we had a plan of what we wanted to buy so we backed ourselves."



Mr Nixon said Ultra Star would be used alongside his Hereford brother in the stud's breeding program.

"The plan is to run both those bulls in a multi-sire join on our stud herd this year and we'll just DNA all the calves to verify their sires," he said.

"Our commercial program has been averaging about 2 per cent better on our pregnancy tests and we believe that could be because we've been multi-joining the sires.

"We thought there was no better way to increase our rates in the stud and we think we'll offset the cost of verifying the sires by getting that extra 2pc."

The buyer, from the Western Downs region of Qld, said he was attracted to the bull because of its EBVs as well as its phenotype.

The Nixon brothers run 150 stud cows and 600 commercial Hereford, Black Baldy and Angus cows and have semen rights to the Robbie family's Otapawa Herefords stud in New Zealand.



"A few years ago you couldn't combine that sort of structure and phenotype in a bull and get excellent figures as well," Mr Nixon said.

"Both the bulls we bought this year absolutely smoked it out of the park with several EBVs in the top 5pc.

"We want muscle, we want fat and carcase and quality with big red eyes and that good colour and this bull has all of that."

Devon Court Herefords has bought several bulls from Mawarra over the years, including from its on-property sale in central Gippsland and from previous national shows at Wodonga.

"The big reason I liked this bull is because the sire he is by is out of the US and I believe he's one of the biggest game-changing sires to hit Australia in a very long time," he said.

Thirteen bulls sold to buyers online in Victoria, NSW and Qld via AuctionsPlus.



Nutrien South East stud stock manager Peter Godbolt said the result was a good indication Herefords were experiencing a "resurgence".

"The top end of the sale was very strong with stud bulls getting up to $130,000, another at $70,000 along with bulls at $60,000 and $50,000," he said.

"Commercial buyers were willing to pay $25,000 for bulls and there was still value buying for people who wanted to buy bulls from $6000 to $10,000.

"I think the Hereford breed is on a comeback with their grass-fed products especially when we have good seasons like we're experiencing at the moment."

Bryce Eishold

Bryce Eishold


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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