Holstein World: Describe Trans Ova Genetics’ experience with cloning technology. Share with us the benefits and drawbacks, if any, that producers should be aware of.
Trans Ova Genetics: Trans Ova Genetics has produced more than 600 cloned calves in the past seven years, the vast majority of them for pharmaceutical research purposes. In 2006, 70 cloned calves were born for dairy and beef breeder clients; we are expecting more than 200 in 2007. About 140 clients have created genetic preservations, or cell lines, of one or more of their elite animals. A genetic preservation is the first step in cloning. One to two percent of Trans Ova Genetics’ client base have actually taken the next step and created clones from these preserved cell lines, representing the most elite genetics in the industry.
While the cost of cloning can be a drawback to some breeders, having a genetic twin of a valuable animal can be priceless, especially if that original animal dies or loses reproductive ability early in its career. Being able to further propagate that animal’s genetics can be enormously beneficial. Another consideration is that like other reproductive technologies, success is not always assured, and we’ve learned that certain cell lines are better producers of cloned offspring than others.