The £945,000 Red Tibetan mastiff and the Charolais bull sold for £105,000: Incredibly expensive animals

The rest of us may be struggling, but one part of the British and world economies is booming, as breeders of all kinds of animal break record after record at the sales

When Vexour Garth, a one-ton British bull, strode into the ring at the Stirling Bull Sale last week, British beef farmers held their breath for one of the biggest sales of the year. They weren't disappointed. The 19-month-old Charolais sold for £105,000 – a world record for the breed and a price tag that puts him on a par with a new Porsche 911.

In time, it might look like a bargain. A boom in the global demand for meat has led to a swell of confidence among livestock farmers, fuelling a steady increase in the sums breeders are willing to spend on top quality sires from which to breed the next generation. Vexour Garth was bought by a private company in the US, which has effectively purchased the right to sell his genetic material all over the world.

Sheep prices are also breaking records. Two weeks ago, a blackface lamb sold for £90,000 at an auction in Perthshire. Another lamb from the same bloodline sold for £60,000. Even sheepdogs are being sold at unprecedented prices in the hope of harnessing the genes of the best. Last week, Marchup Midge, the pup of a former World Sheepdog Trials champion, fetched a record £8,400.

Experts say there has rarely been a better time to invest. "Getting access to top quality genetics is something cattle farmers are willing to invest in," said Alasdair Houston, chairman of the British Charolais Cattle Society. "I understand the plan is for Vexour Garth to stay in the UK and have semen taken for export. That animal shows that there is real confidence in the traditional British cattle breeds and genetic qualities."

In the UK, livestock farmers are gradually emerging from the privations of the BSE and foot-and-mouth eras. Since EU restrictions on British beef exports were dropped in 2006, 50 new countries have opened up to sales. Nations such as China and Brazil are increasing meat consumption, leading to a surge in worldwide demand.

"Livestock price records don't tumble particularly often," said Christopher Dodds, of the Livestock Auctioneers Association. "Farmers have had some very challenging financial times, but in recent years things have begun to look better. There is a demand for red meat in the wider world like there hasn't been before.

"Breeders of sheep and cattle will be thinking about reinvesting in the genetic pool of their herd and stock."

Breeders say that the prestige of the UK breeding stock could mean British farmers benefiting from selling the genetic material of their best specimens overseas. A single dose of semen from a top bull can fetch £75, Mr Houston said. If successful, Vexour Garth could produce up to a million doses in his lifetime for sale across the world.

The genetic material that produced the record-breaking sheepdog Marchup Midge is available to buy for £500 a dose from dealer Mike Northwood. "They come from all over the world, Australia, America, to buy British stock," said Mr Northwood, whose company Come-Bye markets the frozen semen of dozens of award-winning sheepdogs – including Marchip Midge's sire, Roy.

While it has been a difficult year for UK agriculture, with poor crop harvests driving up the price of animal feed, livestock farmers at least at are looking beyond the short-term, seasonal set-back.

"Global demand for meat is outstripping global supply," said Peter Hardwick, head of trade development at the English Beef and Lamb Executive. "There has been an increase in consumption, particularly in the developing world and a change in demographic in some of those countries. These demographic shifts are affecting the ability of these countries to supply themselves, meaning that EU countries have an opportunity to fill the gap."

The Perthshire lamb

£90,000 - World record price paid for a Blackface lamb in Scotland two weeks ago

A 12-month-old blackface lamb – offspring of a £30,000 Aitkenhead ram and a £28,000 Midlock ewe – was sold for £90,000 on 15 October by Ian Hunter, from Muthill, Perthshire, at Dalmally in Argyll and Bute. Its twin was sold for £60,000 at the same sale.

The Lancashire sheepdog

£8,400 - Marchup Midge, sold in Skipton on Friday for a world record price

Marchup Midge, an 18-month-old sheepdog bitch, fetched a record 8,000 guineas when Shaun Richards, from Burnley, sold her at Skipton Auction Mart last week. Midge’s father, Roy, was 2008 World Sheep Dog Trial champion.

The Surrey bull

£105,000 - Charolais bull, sold for a new breed record in Stirling last week

Vexour Garth, a 19-month-old home-bred Charolais bull tracing his bloodline back to the great Maerdy Tally was sold for a record £105,000 by Jan Boomaars, from Woldingham, Surrey, last week. The US Livestock Capital Partnership was the purchaser.

Beast buys: record prices

Red Tibetan mastiff:
: Hong Dong (2011)
Price: £945,000
Age: 11 months
Sold by: Lu Liang
Sold to: Multimillionaire coal baron

: Green Monkey (2006)
Price: £16m
Age: 2 years
Sold by: Randy Hartley/Dean De Renzo
Sold to: John Magnier, stud owner

Limousin bull:
: Fabio (2012)
Price: £126,000
Age: 17 months
Sold by: Glyn Vaughan
Sold to: Alan Jenkinson, Cumbria

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Living for the moment: Julianne Moore playing Alzheimer’s sufferer Alice
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Life and Style
love + sex
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Arts and Entertainment
Jeffrey Archer holds up a copy of 'Kane and Abel', a book he says was ripped-off by Bollywood
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Fay Weldon suggested authors should tailor their work for Kindle readers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager - Salesforce / Reports / CRM - North London - NfP

£45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and reputable Not for Profit o...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers