IMAGE: Jabriel, a “luxury bull,” whose semen is the most valuable in the billion-dollar Brazilian cattle genetics industry. Photo from the “Holy Cow” series by photo-journalist Carolina Arantes.

Jabriel is what can be described as a “luxury bull”–his genes so perfect that he lives protected in the farm of a lab in the south-eastern state of Minas Gerais.

Via The Guardian, I was introduced to Jabriel, whose value was assessed at $800,000 in 2016. Jabriel is the star of the Brazilian bull semen market, and thus of photo-journalist Carolina Arantes’ series “Holy Cow,” which documents this little-known but lucrative industry. (“Holy” is, in part, a reference to Jabriel’s ancestral lineage: in the nineteenth century, specimens of India’s distinctive and sacred zebu cattle were brought to Brazil. Their genes are responsible for much of Jabriel’s value today.)

Jabriel is an A.I. bull, in the terminology of an industry where those initials stand for artificial insemination, rather than intelligence. He is rated “Concept Plus,” which, again, does not refer to a particularly advanced idea, but instead to his fertility: his owners, Alta Genetics, promise that their “high fertility CONCEPT PLUS sires will give you a 2%-5% conception rate advantage over the average sire.”

Jabriel’s charms do not stop there. With the help of Google Translate, I’m further able to appreciate him as a “Very racially beautiful reproducer, which transmits to its children fast gain in weight and excellent refrigeration conformation.” (Reprodutor de muita beleza racial, que transmite aos seus filhos rápido ganho em peso e excelente conformação frigorífica, in the original Portuguese.) Racial beauty and fast gain in weight seem self-explanatory (!) but excellent refrigeration conformation requires a little more interrogation: I think, based on my ongoing explorations of the artificial cryosphere, that it may refer to the known tendency of zebu beef to toughen during rapid post-mortem chilling, and/or the ways in which different assemblages of muscle fibre and fat respond to the refrigerator’s tenderization