Chinese scientists have cloned three “super cows” that are able to produce 18,000 litres of milk per year and over 100,000 litres of milk in their lifetimes. The accomplishment may help reduce China’s dependency on imported dairy cows, say experts.
For cloning, the scientists from the Northwest University of Agricultural and Forestry Science and Technology took somatic cells from the ears of highly productive Dutch Holstein Frisian cattle and placed them in surrogate cows, read a news release from the university. This technique of somatic cell nuclear transfer was the same used to create Dolly the sheep in 1996, the world’s first cloned mammal.
The milk produced from the clones is no different from that produced by their originals, said an expert involved in the experiment. Once the cloned calves reach two years of age, they can begin producing milk for the market, he added.
Mr Jin Yaping, the project’s lead scientist, said that cloning “super cows” would allow China to preserve its best dairy breeds and avoid the bio-security risk presented by importing live cows from other countries. China currently imports around 70 per cent of its dairy cows. “We plan to raise a herd of 1,000 super cows in two to three years. This will provide key support in creating our own breeding bulls and dairy cows, thus easing China’s dependency on importing cattle,” he said.