Worth $4 Million, Viatina-19 FIV Mara Movéis Is the Most Expensive Cow Ever Sold at Auction

The embodiment of Brazil’s cattle ambitions is Viatina-19, the product of years of efforts to raise meatier cows.

Viatina-19, the most expensive cow ever sold at auction.
Viatina-19, the most expensive cow ever sold at auction.
AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

According to Guinness World Records, Viatina-19 FIV Mara MovĂ©is is the most expensive cow ever sold at auction. Worth $4 million, that’s three times more than the last recordholder’s price. And — at 1,100 kilograms (more than 2,400 pounds) — twice as heavy as an average adult of her breed.

Viatina-19’s owners have put up two billboards praising her grandeur and beckoning ranchers, curious locals and busloads of veterinary students to make pilgrimages to see the cow.

Climate scientists agree that people need to consume less beef, the largest agricultural source of greenhouse gasses and a driver of Amazon deforestation. But 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 wants everyone, everywhere to eat beef.

The embodiment of Brazil’s cattle ambitions is Viatina-19, the product of years of efforts to raise meatier cows. The country’s cows are sold at high-stakes auctions — 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 line of specimen.

The cow’s price stems from how quickly they put on vast amounts of muscle, from fertility and how often they passed those characteristics 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 $250,000 for an opportunity to collect Viatina-19’s egg cells.

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