Canyon, TX - West Texas A&M is trying to mass produce the best tasting beef for consumers and the university is using clones to do it.
WT researchers recently reached a milestone in their cattle cloning project, which started three years ago. Their clones have given birth to thirteen offspring, which has never been done before with clones of the bovine species.
Ty Lawrence, an animal science professor and researcher on the project, hopes the thirteen calves will become the best of the best when it comes to producing quality beef. "It's a new breakthrough," said Lawrence. "It's new for the beef industry and new for science in that we have thirteen calves in which the mother was a carcass and now a clone of a carcass, and the father was a carcass and now a clone of a carcass. Both being live animals, we've crossed those and we have thirteen progeny."
The parents of the thirteen calves were cloned from carcasses of a rare, high quality beef the USDA scores as "prime yield grade 1." If all goes as planned, the offspring will receive the same score, which could change the game for beef producers.
"That would allow beef producers to produce the beef that consumers want more efficiently," said Lawrence. "We would be able to produce needed, wanted and desirable taste fat without the unnecessary, trimmable waste fat that often comes with consumer desires."
WT will soon take six of the calves to the university's feedlot where they will eventually be harvested. "We'll see what happened to the first six animals," previewed Lawrence. "Are they higher in quality and yield simultaneously or are they no different than the current population? That is yet an unknown."
The researchers will see if the cloning project is successful sometime around April. Lawrence said the university never plans on putting their cloned cattle on the market, just their offspring due to the way clones are sometimes negatively perceived by the public.