There are few more exciting moments at a bull sale than witnessing a record top price. But after the hammer falls, we often don't hear much about what these mighty sires go on to achieve.
Queensland Country Life and The Land have dived into the archives to put together a list of the top ten most expensive bulls sold in Australia* and explore their contribution to beef genetics more widely.
HE may be the highest priced bull to ever sell in Australia but in February last year crippling drought had stopped NCC Justified from meeting his new breeder herd at Rodger and Lorena Jefferis' Cloncurry property, Elrose, in Queensland.
In the seven months since the two-year-old son of Carinya Tony sold for $325,000 at the Nobbs family's NCC Brahman Annual Sale, Justified had spent much of his time in semen collection.
Speaking to the Queensland Country Life last year, Mr Jefferis said a large amount of semen had been collected from the bull and they had started marketing offshore through Rocky Repro, before releasing any into his home country.
Just 11 years earlier Mr Jefferis signaled "no more" in a bidding war against Happy Valley stud at the 2006 Tartrus Lancefield Brahman Sale. That reached $300,000 for the previous Australian all breeds record bull, Lancefield Burton Manso.
But when it came to Justified, Mr Jefferis had made up his mind - he wanted the bull. His confidence in buying a bull at such a high price came from successful returns from the progeny of two other record breakers he purchased in the 1990s, Lancefield Ambition and Lancefield Signature.
Mr Jefferis paid $60,000 for Ambition whom returned more than $700,000 in progeny sales alone, according to the Brahman News December 2006.
Signature was bought for $87,500 with his sons grossing $320,000 at an Elrose sale in 2005.
Mr Jefferis said they had shown that the right bull could pay himself off very quickly.
"They may seem dear at the time, and you can get them wrong, but going on what happened years ago with Signature and Ambition, they very much paid their way," he said.
On sale day, the then 24-month-old Justified, tipped the scales at 804kg, with an EMA of 140cm sq and fat depth scans of 10/8mm.
The sire came from Brahman royalty with JDH Databank Manso (IMP US) and South African sire NCC Kruger (IMP ET) on his father's side while his mother was from JDH MR Elmo Manso (IMP US) bloodlines.
UP until October 2017, Lancefield Burton Manso still held the Australian all breed record price of $300,000 from his selling ring appearance back in October 2006.
The then 21-month-old 824kg son of JDH Baxter Manso was purchased by the Happy Valley Brahman stud at the Tartrus Lancefield Brahman Sale at Gracemere and lived to hold the record until his death in about 2014.
Graeme Kemp and Damien Sturdy represented Happy Valley on the day. According to the Brahman News 2006, the Sturdy family found themselves sitting directly across from their bidding opposition - Rodger and Lorena Jefferis, Elrose, Cloncurry. With bidding beginning at just $10,000 many could have been forgiven for being shocked at the long lasting competition that followed.
Just a few lots before Burton Manso entered the ring, the Australian record all breed price was broken first by his half brother, Lancefield Ruben Manso, when he sold for $150,000 to Spicer and Carolyn Briggs, Cona Creek, Springsure.
Both bulls were the progeny of Lancefield Mary Lou Manso 1897 who was a highly regarded donor cow of the Lancefield stud.
At the time, Damien Sturdy was working for the Happy Valley stud and said Burton Manso had three or four years with them before he bought the bull privately for his own stud, Akama.
And while he didn't have to pay the $300,000 price tag for Burton Manso, he still "paid a bit for him".
According to Mr Sturdy, Burton Manso remained in his herd until about 2014 when he was hit from behind during a fight and was no longer usable.
Today, Burton Manso has at least 251 registered progeny under the Australian Brahman Breeders Association with Mr Sturdy still owning semen from the record bull.
"He bred consistently. We got a lot of good females and good males," Mr Sturdy said last year.
"We watched him grow up as a calf, he was on display as a calf at Beef, and he had good traits and (Happy Valley) liked the bull. It's one of those things that happened on the day (reaching $300,000). You just don't know where it goes. You never thought that $300,000 was going to be beaten again."
Burton Manso was used in round one of the Brahman BIN Project, a landmark sire progeny test.
WITH a name like Lancefield M Billionaire Manso, it should have come as no surprise that the bull from Matthew and Janelle McCamley, Eulogie, Dululu, was destined for a $240,000 price tag in 2007.
A year after they fell short of claiming the $300,000 Lancefield Burton Manso in 2006, Rodger and Lorena Jefferis, Elrose stud, Cloncurry, were the winning bidders on Lancefield M Billionaire Manso.
At the time of sale, the 22-month-old son of JDH Mr Brooks Manso and grandson of JDH Datapack Manso weighed 843kg, had an eye muscle area of 137sq cm with 12 and eight millimetre rump and rib fat scans.
The celebrations were short but sweet for Burton Manso following his highly publicised sale.
Elrose studmaster Rodger Jefferis said they only ever received one crop of natural calves by Billionaire Manso before he broke his leg fighting with another bull.
"We had let our insurance go so we wore that," he said.
Thankfully semen was taken from the bull and the Jefferis family were able to continue breeding progeny by Billionaire Manso.
"We did have semen and he bred a lot of very exceptionally fertile females and sons that were used and went on down the herd," Mr Jefferis said.
"We know his sons have done us a lot of good, the ones we used."
In 2018, Billionaire Manso had 188 progeny registered with the Australian Brahman Breeders Association. Of that number, about 78 are under the Elrose prefix, another 51 are with the Lancefield M stud while the remainder are with other breeders, both stud and commercial.
Vendors Matthew and Janelle McCamley of Lancefield M Brahmans opted to retain a one-quarter share of semen interest in the bull at the time of sale.
In a Brahman News article in December 2007, Mr McCamley said Billionaire Manso had always shown exceptional potential and kept improving at every stage of his development.
In the same publication, Mr Jefferis said they had made up their mind to purchase Billionaire Manso very quickly.
"Our view is that we can't afford not to buy the best sires which become available," Mr Jefferis said at the time.
IN the lead up to Beef 2018 the Wagyu breed again hit the headlines when South African buyers paid to $185,000 for a sire at the Elite Wagyu Sale in conjunction with the WagyuEdge Conference in Mackay.
It was Poll Wagyu Midnight M0775 offered by Poll Wagyu Pty Ltd that made a Wagyu breed record when he was purchased by South African breeders Strydom Prime Genetics, Aliwal North, Free State.
Midnight M0775 was in the top five per cent of the breed for marbling and his total carcase index (TCI) of +$348, top 10pc for marble fineness and top 20pc for retail beef yield.
The hetrozygous bull was sired by Mayura Itoshigenami Jnr, a bull that is extremely well know in the Wagyu breed for this high marbling averaging a marble score of nine in the Mayura Station production system and his large eye muscle area (EMA) being in the top 1pc of the breed.
DROUGHTMASTER bull Glenlands Prince had a royal run in 2012 when he not only took out the major crown in the Beef show ring but reached a breed record price of $180,000 in the sale ring for the Childs family, Bouldercombe.
The then 32-month-old polled son of Glenlands Kingsley out of Glenlands 3070, was named the Beef 2012 champion interbreed bull by the judges - Brahman breeder John Coleman-Locke (US), Simbrah breeder Rhett Mobbs and Angus, Devon and Shorthorn breeder James Laurie.
The Beef 2012 broad ribbon joined Prince's 2011 runner-up interbreed bull title at the Queensland Royal Show.
Speaking on behalf of the judges during Beef 2012, Mr Mobbs said they all agreed Prince was a complete sire package, who was structurally correct with a real sire outlook.
In September that year, Prince stepped back into the spotlight for the family's on-property sale as the opening lot.
It was standing room only as the 36-month-old weighing 1227kg and with an eye muscle area of 152cm sq created a bidding frenzy before eventually selling for $180,000 to Paul McDonald, Fortus Droughtmasters, Gympie.
Losing bidders were Angus and Donna Deane, Malboona, Corfield. Prince had five natural registered progeny with the Droughtmaster Society Australia; one from Fortrus, one from Rondel and three from Seymour studs. A son, Rondel Stationhand, sold for $8500 at the Bullzye Sale.
The Pisaturo family's Charolais bull, Mandalong Chock, sold to an Australian syndicate for $165,000 the Australian record at the time, believed to be some decades ago.
The scurred bull unfortunately tested positive with Ephemeral fever, also known as three day sickness, otherwise many predicted he would have sold to the USA for twice that price.
Chock was sired by Mandalong Pollo, grand champion at the Sydney Royal in 1984 who was prestigious himself and is visible in a number of Australasian pedigrees and also North America.
Chock went on to sire a bull called Amerigo who was used by Route 66 Charolais in Oklahoma, America, more than 15 years ago. He then went on to sire Kelly Wallah Red Chieftain, a red bull used in Canada, particularly in the dark red and black Charolais cattle.
AFTER setting the Simmental breed record sale of $160,000, Woonallee Los Angeles had already made a mark across the world, with his semen selling to 11 different countries.
It was a battle of the Queensland bidders when the then 18-month-old bull from Simmental breeders Tom and Lizzy Baker sold in South Australia in 2017.
Renowned Brahman breeder, Brett Nobbs, NCC, Duaringa was locked in a battle with Wandoan's Doug and Jan Bradshaw, Blue Dog Simmentals, to secure the young polled ET sire for his growing Simmental herd.
While bidding opened at $40,000 and then a $50,000 bid online, Mr Nobbs didn't enter the auction war until prices reached $120,000.
The Bakers retained 200 straws from the bull for in herd use with a number of calves already on the ground while in 2018 Mr Nobbs had sold semen to 11 different countries including Ireland, Canada, US, South Africa, Mexico and China.
"We ended up paying for him in semen sales," Mr Nobbs told the Queensland Country Life last year.
Los Angeles spent about six months in the quarantine semen collection centre before joining the NCC herd at Duaringa.
While it pushed his natural mating season back, in March 2018 there were about 20 progeny on the ground at NCC to the bull.
"The first few born were ET calves, now a couple of natural calves," Mr Nobbs said.
"They are exceptional. He (Los Angeles) is worked down in condition (but) he is still the goods."
Mr Nobbs had purchased Los Angeles' full sister from the stud's 2014 heifer drop for $16,000 and couldn't let the bull pass him by.
Los Angeles tipped the scales at 1030kg, and was sired by New Zealand bull Glen Anthony Y-Arta AY02 (P) out of Woonallee Kathie B111, from South African bloodlines.
Later that year, he also purchased Los Angeles' half brother, Woonallee Jetstream, through a private sale with John, Andrea and Mitchell Leek of Mt Ararat Simmentals, Nar Nar Goon, Victoria.
BATHURST-BASED Angus stud Millah Murrah Angus broke two of their own national records during their on-property sale on September 5, including the national Angus auction bull price with a $160,000 bid for Paratrooper P15.
The Thompson family cleared all 69 bulls for a record Angus sale average of $17,261, beating their previous record held since 2016 of $16,348.
It was only four years earlier that they sold the breed record $150,000 sire, Millah Murrah Kingdom K35 to a syndicate of ABS Australia, Witherswood, Gilmandyke and Ascot Angus.
Their new record breaker, Paratrooper P15, was purchased by the newly acquired stud, Cherylton Angus which is now known as Oldfield Angus, based in Western Australia.
He will be used as the basis of the stud alongside Millah Murrah Klooney K42. The young sire was by EF Commando 1366 out of Millah Murrah Ela M9 and used quite heavily by in Millah Murrah's AI program in the autumn.
LANCEFIELD Ruben Manso could easily be the shortest holder of the Australian all breeds bull record following his $155,000 sale in 2006.
The son of JDH Sir Reno Manso reached the impressive price when he was purchased by Spicer Briggs and his wife Carolyn, Cona Creek, Springsure, during the Tartrus Lancefield Brahman Sale at Gracemere on October 30, 2006.
Just when sale attendees thought they had witnessed the rare event of a record breaking sale, Ruben Manso's celebrations only lasted seven lots or about 10 minutes.
It was his half brother, Lancefield Burton Manso, who surpassed his top price bid and eventually sold for $300,000 to Happy Valley Brahman stud.
At the time, the 25-month-old Ruben Manso weighed 917kg with an eye muscle area of 135cm sq and a scrotal circumference of 42cm.
Not long after the sale the Briggs' daughter, Anna McCamley, and her husband Andrew, now 2AM stud, Dingo, took possession of the bull. Ms McCamley said Ruben Manso went on to breed for a few seasons in their herd before being culled naturally about three years later.
"We have a few females retained in the herd," she said last year.
"He had some sale sons that went on okay. He didn't breed as well as himself."
The Australian Brahman Breeders Association has 156 progeny registered to Ruben Manso.
WITH more than 1400 progeny registered to Angus Australia, it's fair to say that $150,000 record Angus bull, Millah Murrah Kingdom K35, has proven his worth.
It was September 2015 when Kingdom K35, a 19-month-old son of Hingaia 469 out of Millah Murrah Flower G41, sold to the syndicate of ABS Australia, Witherswood, Gilmandyke and Ascot Angus at Ross and Dimity Thompson's Bathurst sale. By sale day he weighed 862 kilograms with a scrotal circumference of 44cm and had 200, 400 and 600-day weight estimated breeding values of +42, +81 and +109.
At the conclusion of the sale, Kingdom K35 spent eight weeks in semen collection before being depastured with cows at Witherswood. 36 of the 37 females joined fell in calf.
He then returned for further domestic and semen collection at Total Livestock Genetics.
Part owner, ABS Australia, told Stock and Land in 2016, Kingdom had the largest semen sales of any Australian Angus bull in that recent financial year.
A New Zealand syndicate had purchased rights to Kingdom K35's semen for two years while sales have also reached the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Finland, Germany and South America.
Part buyers, John and Joan Woodruff of Taminick, Victoria, said it was Kingdom's structure, superior body length, width and depth that made him and industry favourite.
At an open day, a breeder remarked that Kingdom K35 was "like a good wine, gets better with age".
"Many have commented that Kingdom improves structure, volume and do-ability and in the years to come his daughters will be the backbone for many Angus programs," the Woodruffs said.
Imagine buying your pick of the catalogue at a bull sale for one bid of $2500 and then going on to breed a $150,000 record breaking sire from the bargain buy.
While it may seem like the stuff of fairytales that was exactly what happened for the Edwards family of Wolfang Droughtmasters, Wowan, who sold $150,000 Wolfang Fred-O at the 2007 Droughtmaster National Sale.
The 25-month-old sire was one of 13 bulls (av $19,807) offered by the Edwards family late in the second day of selling with David and Anita Torrisi, Vitwood Droughtmasters, Pialba, outbidding the Hicks family, Billabong stud, Moura.
The Torrisi family had also purchased the breed's record price female of $42,500 Glenlands Kineesha within the space of a month.
Fred-O weighed 950kg with rump and rib fat scans of 12mm and 10mm and an eye muscle area of 140cm sq.
He was a son of Billabong Kallum whom Wolfang stud master, Greg Edwards, purchased for $2500.
Unfortunately his time was short. A fight with another bull during his first season saw him injure himself and later put down.
Given Mr Edwards only collects semen from a bull after he has seen its calves, Wolfang only had a limited crop of natural calves to show for Kallum, including Fred-O.
"We have still got two of Kallum's daughters still breeding," Mr Edwards said last year.
"I don't get any semen until we see the first crop of calves. We have been kicking ourselves ever since."
He said they never expected Kallum's son, Fred-O, to make the money he did.
"I still pinch myself," he said.
"We showed him as a weaner bull and he never won a thing because he was always an ugly duckling...but when he finished growing and everything was in proportion, he stepped up to the mark.
"A few people had come up to me before the sale saying, 'G'day money bags'. He started at auction at $3500...and I thought everyone is full of themselves he is only going to make $5000 or $6000."
In the end, Fred-O suffered the same fate as his father and passed away not long after the sale.
At least 21 progeny from Fred-O are registered with the Droughtmaster Society Australia.
AFTER his record breaking $150,000 sale at Rockhampton Brahman Week in 2016, Jomanda El Toro 802 was put straight to work in both semen collection and paddock mating with his first calves providing plenty of promise for his new owners.
2018 was El Toro's second season with the herd owned by purchasers Darren and Sue Kent, Ooline, Goovigen, and his duties hadn't slowed.
Having been impressed with his first drop of calves, the family naturally joined and AI mated the bull to 500 stud and commercial cows in the 2018 season alone.
At just 22 months of age the polled sire offered by the Johnson family, Grafton, became the highest priced bull to sell at the Rockhampton Brahman Week Sale at the time.
He was sired by the red Brahman, NCC Casablanca 1541, who was leased to the Johnsons from NCC's Brett Nobbs, and out of grey dam, Jomanda Kylie 539.
Ooline stud representative James Kent told the Queensland Country Life last year, that they had mated El Toro to both grey and red females and were happy with the results of his progeny, throwing both colourings.
"In his first season, the calves that we have are everything we expected from him," he said.
"They are consistent of his type and the softness and bone that he possesses.
"It is early days but we certainly are confident that El Toro is going to take our cattle to the next level and stay consistent with our type while certainly producing a few more pollies. To see he has bred both ways (red and grey) is giving us a lot of confidence."
The Johnson family, who operate a small stud breeder herd, retained semen from El Toro and had about 15 to 18 heifers in calf to the sire in 2018.
Stud representative Colin Johnson said the build up and hype surrounding the 2016 Rockhampton Brahman Week Sale was something they had never experienced before.
"It's like winning the gold medal at the Olympics or the Melbourne Cup, something you will always be remembered for," he said.
"Never before in living memory has a sale draft of bulls been so eagerly anticipated by the market."
That was the description given in a March 2006 edition of the Brahman News when Brett Nobbs, NCC, Duaringa offered the family's first release of South African embryo bulls at the Big Country Sale and broke the Australian all breed auction record price at the time for $145,000 NCC Zambezi.
You could almost say such comments were made at his 2017 on-property annual bull sale where he reclaimed the record for $325,000 NCC Justified.
The 26-month-old NCC Zambezi first claimed the record for Mr Nobbs when he sold to Stephen Lamb, Abbotsford stud, Biloela and Lee Wallace, who at the time owned Char Walla stud, Pentland, ahead of underbidder David McCamley, Lancefield Brahmans.
Zambezi, a son of Masbra MAS 98 34, was a result of South African bloodline work secured by Mr Nobbs to establish an embryo program in the foreign country and import the embryos to Australia where they were later born.
In total, his draft of 11 South African bulls offered at the Big Country Sale averaged $48,000.
Like many high price bulls Zambezi entered semen collection following his selling appearance.
According to buyer Stephen Lamb, they almost got their money back immediately from semen sales.
"We got a third to a half return on him straight away," he said.
"We have still got 6000 to 7000 straws in Rocky."
Zambezi divided his time between the two buyers' properties, with the majority at Abbotsford where he was mated to 45 to 50 head each season.
It wasn't until about three years ago that he was naturally culled.
IF you thought selling a bull for $120,000 in today's era was something special, imagine selling one for that sum back in 1986.
Poll Hereford bull Inverary Dominator D56 from the Andersen family, Inverary, Toowoomba, still holds the record price for the breed three decades since he sold under the hammer as a two-year-old at Inverary's Annual Sale for $120,000.
He was purchased by the late Alan Croker, Evesham stud, Narrabri.
With an average inflation rate of 3.1 per cent each year, if Dominator D56 were sold today he would have made $311,887.78, making him the second most expensive bull sold in Australia.
Before he even hit the sale ring, Dominator D56 had made a name for himself.
At the time, he was the only Poll Hereford bull to win all three eastern Royal Show grand championships in the one year; Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
According to the sale catalogue, his sire, BT Domino 520N, had top progeny all over Australia, New Zealand and Canada while his dam, Invery Moonbeam 22, was Australia's record price cow at $43,000 ($111,759 today) and senior champion at the Queensland Royal Show in 1977.
On March 10 1986, at 22 months old, Dominator D56 weighed 937kg with a daily weight gain of 1.45kg and a scrotal circumference of 38cm.
In 2018, Dominator D56 had 128 registered progeny with Hereford Australia to about 20 different studs.
Dominator D56 was one of the many successes Inverary stud master Don Anderson had with his cattle empire.
Mr Anderson purchased BT Advancer 12H from Montana, USA, for $311,000.
At the time live imports to Australia from America were restricted due to bluetongue disease. It meant the bull was in quarantine for 12 months and didn't arrive in Australia until 1982.
*This story is based on figures as of September 6 2019 and are a guide only.
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