China has cloned so-called “super cows” that produce about twice as much milk as a normal cow. In the coming years, a large herd of animals is to be bred so that the country no longer has to import milk.
Xi’anyang (China). China is currently dependent on foreign milk imports. According to a report by CNN, scientists at Jin Yaping from Northwestern University of Agricultural and Forestry Science and Technology (NWAFU) have therefore cloned so-called “super cows”, which produce significantly more milk than the average cow. As Chinese state media reports, the first animals were born at the end of December 2022.
According to scientific forecasts , the cloned cows will yield about 18 tons of milk per year. That ‘s about 1.7 times the amount of milk produced by an average cow in the United States, according to data from the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) (PDF). A single “super cow” would produce about a hundred tons of milk in its lifetime.
Cells from Holstein cattle
As Jin explains to the state-run newspaper Global Times, only five in every 10,000 in China typically get this impressive amount of milk. Another problem is that the high productivity of the animals is often only discovered at the end of their lives. Targeted breeding is therefore hardly possible.
The scientists therefore took cells from the ears of Holstein cattle , which are known to produce an above-average amount of milk. Holstein cattle are among the most important breeds in milk production worldwide. Like the state newspaper Technology Daily, they then created 120 clones from the genes , but only three of them were carried to term. Because the genome of the clones corresponds to that of the cows that produced a particularly large amount of milk, it can be assumed that the cow clones will also produce a particularly large amount of milk.
Herds of “super cows”
According to Jin, the number of clones will be increased significantly in the coming years.
“We plan to build a herd of over 1,000 super cows in two to three years as a solid foundation to manage China’s reliance on overseas dairy cows and the risk of supply chain disruptions.”
China wants to make itself independent of milk imports. Their share of the total milk volume is currently around 70 percent.