Chinese scientists successfully cloned three super cows from the Holstein Friesian breed that is capable of producing 18 tons of milk per year. This is a breakthrough for China's dairy industry as it is looking to reduce its dependence on imported breeds.
The three calves have been bred by scientists from the Northwest University of Agricultural and Forestry Science and Technology.
An official in the city of Wulin in Ningxia told Technology Daily that the first of the cloned calves was born on December 30 by cesarean section due to its large size of 56.7 kg.
A Full Herd Being Planned
Jin Yaping, one of the leading scientists behind this project, believes the clones are a breakthrough. It allows China to preserve the very best cows in an economically feasible way.
The lead scientist said they plan to breed a full herd of super cows. "We plan to take two to three years to build up a herd comprised of over 1000 super cows, as a solid foundation to tackle China's reliance on overseas dairy cows and the issue of the risk of being choked by supply chain disruptions."
Jin said the scientists reincarnated the super cows to help boost China's local milk production, which has been struggling to meet domestic demand amid surging feed costs. They used tissues from the cows' ears to make an initial batch of 120 cloned embryos. About 42 percent were successfully impregnated in surrogate cows, and 17.5 percent of which remained fertile after 200 days.
The Holstein Friesian breed is valuable for China because only five in 10,000 cows in the country can produce 100 tons of milk in their lifetimes. Jin highlighted that some highly productive cows are not identified until the end of their lives, making it difficult to breed them. The Holstein Friesian, which originated in the Netherlands, is the largest of the dairy breeds and produces the largest amount of milk, and is very much popular. It can produce 18 tons of milk per year, or 100 tons of milk in their lifetimes.