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Hong Kong (CNN) --
Hong Kong (CNN) --
Chinese scientists have successfully cloned three "super cows" that can produce an unusually high amount of milk, state media reported, hailing it as a breakthrough for China's dairy industry to reduce its reliance on cows. imported breeds.
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The three calves, raised by scientists from the Northwest University of Agricultural and Forestry Sciences and Technology, were born in the Ningxia region in the weeks leading up to the Lunar New Year on Jan. 23, the state-run Ningxia Daily reported.
Workers feed cows at a dairy farm in Handan, Hebei province, China, on Nov. 15, 2021. (Hao Qunying/Costfoto/Future Publishing/Getty Images)
They were cloned from highly productive cows of the Holstein Friesian breed, originally from the Netherlands.
The chosen animals are capable of producing 18 tons of milk per year, or 100 tons of milk in their lifetime.
That's almost 1.7 times the amount of milk produced by the average cow in the United States in 2021, according to the US Department of Agriculture.
The first of the cloned calves was born on December 30 by caesarean section due to its relatively large size of 56.7 kilograms (120 pounds), an official from the city of Wulin in Ningxia told the state-run Technology Daily.
The scientists created 120 cloned embryos from the ear cells of highly productive cows and placed them in surrogate cows, according to Technology Daily.
Jin Yaping, the project's lead scientist, called the birth of the "super cows" a "breakthrough" that allows China to preserve the best cows "in an economically feasible way," the state-run Global Times reported.
Only five out of 10,000 cows in China can produce 100 tons of milk in their lifetime, making them a valuable resource for reproduction.
But some highly productive cows are not identified until the end of their lives, making them difficult to breed, Jin said.
Up to 70% of China's dairy cows are imported from abroad, according to the Global Times.
“We plan to take two to three years to build a herd of more than 1,000 supercows, as a solid foundation to address China's reliance on overseas dairy cows and the risk of being 'suffocated' [due to disruptions]. in the supply chain],” Jin told the newspaper.
In many countries, including the United States, farmers breed clones with conventional animals to add desirable traits, such as high milk yield or disease resistance, to the gene pool.
China has made significant progress in animal cloning in recent years.
Last year, a Chinese animal cloning company created the world's first cloned arctic wolf.
In 2017, Chinese scientists said they had produced cloned cattle with increased resistance to bovine tuberculosis, a risk to cattle in many countries.