A Million-Dollar Moo Moo Named Mist Becomes the Beauty Queen of the Bovine Business

updated 08/05/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/05/1985 AT 01:00 AM EDT

You are eye-to-eye with a Boston real estate man's $1.3 million stake. Last month Jerry Rappaport, 58, a developer and Vermont farm owner, led a consortium of buyers to spend the largest sum ever for a single cow. Her name: G. Metcalf Valiant Mist E.T. (The blue-blooded, whether man or beast, always have an excess of initials.) The 4½-year-old Holstein, who produces nine gallons of milk on a good day, now is the showpiece of Rappaport's 900-acre Lylehaven farm in East Montpelier. She has 24-hour guards, a computerized schedule, gets five meals of prime hay each day (a common cow gets two) and, because of recent genetic and technological advances, is expected to produce as many as 90 offspring in her breeding career, which should last up to 1989.

Until the 1970s a typical cow bore perhaps 10 offspring in a lifetime, and half of those would be bulls, which are relatively worthless except for veal scaloppine. But animal embryos now can be transplanted, split, trisected and frozen, so Mist, as she's known around the pasture, is hot property. Her offspring—she has 16 to date and 14 of her embryos are developing in utero in other cows—are sought by breeders as far away as France and Holland. Mist's female calves now bring up to $100,000 apiece.

"At the auction there was instant recognition of Mist's beauty," says her proud owner. The black-and-white cow, Rappaport explains, has everything—good family, great legs and fine proportions.

Elsie, eat your cud out.

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