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Have a cow: Bovine beauty fetches $170K

Think beef is expensive now? A cow just sold for a record $170,000 at auction in Syracuse, N.Y.

"That's more than the median home price in Central New York last month: $112,500," wrote Marnie Eisenstadt in the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Except that you can't milk a house.

The cow's name is Karlie, and she's a Jersey girl, at least in the bovine world.

A YouTube video shot by "Holstein World" shows that Karlie is a beauty, and maybe a bit of a diva as she prances haughtily. As bidding intensified, auctioneers tried to entice attendees to name a higher price. "I tell you what," said one auctioneer, "Make her break $200,000, we'll throw Bambie in with her."

Bambie?! Karlie?! What's next? Kayley, Courtney, Megan and Siena? These are cows, people. Who knew some cows are worth the price of a Maserati?

"Ladies and gentlemen, history's being made right here right now," said the auctioneer as he prepared to drop the gavel on the eye-popping bid. How NOW brown cow?

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Three-year-old Karlie was sold to Arethusa Farm in Bantam, Conn., bringing with her a long list of accolades: 2012 ABA All-American Sr. 2-year-old, 2012 All-Canadian Sr. 2-year-old, 2012 1st Sr. 2-year-old, International Champion and Res Grand Champion Royal Winter Fair, etc. You know, all the biggies in the world of Jersey cows.

The $170,000 price was nearly seven times more than the second-most expensive cow sold at the auction, and it beats the previous record of $96,000 for a Jersey back in 2006.

The Post-Standard said Karlie has already had one calf herself, and her eggs have been implanted into several surrogates. The fertilized embryos alone are worth $6,000.

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What makes her so special? Think of Karlie as the Kate Upton of cows.

"You want a cow that's skinny and kind of tall, like a model," auction host Patrick Rohe told Eisenstadt. "That means her body is efficient at producing milk. It's not wasting energy on making fat stores." But wait, there's more. "You want udders that don't sag and are well-attached ...That means they'll survive years of milking and they won't be prone to getting lots of bacteria on them because they're dragging around the barn."

Good to know, as Karlie could soon land on the cover of Bovine Illustrated's Swimsuit Edition.

—Follow CNBC's Jane Wells on Twitter@janewells