Can cloned sheep, Select-A-Bull save the Empire?
From ANIMAL PEOPLE, April 1996:
LONDON––Uncertainty over the future of the British
cattle herd erupted just six days after the Holstein Friesian
Society of Great Britain and Ireland introduced Select-A-Bull,
billed as the most advanced system in the British Isles for managing
herd reproduction. About five million of the 11 million
cattle in Britain are Holstein Friesians. If the British herd is
slaughtered and rebuilt from breeding stock, the Select-A-Bull
genetic repository could be invaluable.
Meanwhile, many farmers are likely to postpone
decisions to breed.
The BSE scare stole the farm press spotlight from a
series of scientific breakthroughs in livestock breeding, beginning
last December when a Colorado State University research
team announced it had invented a way to preselect the sex of
calves. Likely to be commercially available in three to four
years, the method requires the use of only 200,000 sperm per
insemination, instead of the 20 million typically used now,
which in turn multiplies the reproductive capabilities of top
bulls. It also permits farmers to preselect for males, who gain
weight faster, if breeding for meat; daughters, if breeding to
replace milking cattle.
In February, a team in Kyodo, Japan, reported conceiving
hogs from frozen fertilized eggs, a potential quantum
leap in further standardizing hog breeding.
On March 6, embryologist Ian Wilmut of the Roslin
Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, reported that he and colleagues
had cloned five female Welsh mountain lambs, of
whom two survived––the first-ever success at cloning a mammal.
Wilmut said he started with 250 embryos, of which 34
were transplanted into Scotts mothers. However, he predicted,
“It may be up to 20 years before this could be used to produce
large numbers of identical animals.”