Scientists in China say they’ve cloned three cows that can produce as much as 18 tons of milk per year , a figure that’s just under twice the average amount of cows in the U.S, according to Chinese state media site Global Times .
Officials hope the new "super cows" will help the company’s dairy industry reduce its dependence on imported cattle. At present, some 70% of China’s dairy cows are brought in from overseas.
“We plan to take two to three years to build up a herd comprised of over 1,000 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 Yaping, the project’s lead scientist, told the state-run newspaper.
Cows that can produce that much milk—as much as 100 tons in their lifetimes—are exceedingly rare, with only one in 5,000 capable of that sort of production. Scientists took cells from the highly productive Holstein Friesen breed and placed them in surrogate cows. All totaled, the report says, scientists have made 120 cloned embryos.
China says many countries will not sell the Holstein Friesen breed to it, which necessitated the cloning experiment. The success will let it produce a herd of these cows without relying on other governments.
The announcement comes just over seven years after China announced plans to begin cloning other forms of cattle to meet rising beef demands.
China has claimed several breakthroughs in cloning technology in recent years, including areas such as corn, soybeans, broiler chickens and breeding pigs. Five years ago, a Chinese biotech company cloned Juice, a famous dog actor in the country , who continued the film career of his parent.
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