22 August 1997

Cattle clones

NEW cloning techniques for cattle could accelerate genetic improvement bringing higher milk and meat yields, claims David Melles, manging director of UK AI and semen specialists ABS Progen.

Using the technology researchers from the US headquarters of ABS have cloned a Holstein bull calf and called it Gene.

Unlike Dolly the sheep – which was cloned from adult cells – Gene was cloned from foetal cells taken before they had developed specific functions.

It is then easier to grow using growth promoting proteins than with adult cells, he adds.

ABS predicts that dairy producers will be able to select cows with desirable traits, such as higher yields, clone them and store the cells which could remain viable indefinitely.

Mr Vant Noordende forecasts that cloning could make management simpler because a herd of clones would respond similarly to the feeding regime used.

When the market changes producers could return to stored cells and select required characteristics and reintroduce them to the herd via further clones, he says.