China claims success in milking cloning tech : 3 'super cows' born

When grown the cows can generate 18 tons of milk per year.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Three super calves have been cloned in China.jpg
Representational image: Three super calves have been cloned in China.


Three “super cows” that can produce an unusually high amount of milk have been cloned by Chinese scientists, according to an article by the Chinese state-run media Global Times.

The new animals will reduce the nation’s dependence on imported breeds, claimed the Wednesday report.

Researchers from the Northwest University of Agricultural and Forestry Science and Technology bred and brought to life the three calves in the Ningxia region.

The animals originate from highly productive cows from the Holstein Friesian breed, which come from the Netherlands and can generate 18 tons of milk per year, or 100 tons of milk in their lifetimes.

A large calf

The first of the new calves was born on December 30. Due to the animal’s large size of 56.7 kilograms (120 pounds), a cesarean section had to be performed.

To get the three new calves, scientists had to clone 120 embryos from the ear cells of the highly productive cows. These embryos were then implanted into surrogate cows, three of which proved fruitful.

Jin Yaping, the project’s lead scientist, said he now has ambitious plans for the new tech.

“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],” he said. 

A rare breed

It is estimated that only five in 10,000 cows in China can produce 100 tons of milk in their lifetimes but these animals are often not identified until the end of their lives, making it difficult to breed them and resulting in the loss of their genes, Jin added.

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China currently imports as much as 70 percent of its dairy cows.

Earlier in 2022, a team of researchers from the College of Artificial Intelligence at Nankai University in China developed a fully automated method for engineering pig clones. For the first time, seven healthy cloned piglets were born to a surrogate mother without any human intervention using that method. 

In September of 2022, Beijing-based Sinogene Biotechnology Co managed to successfully clone an arctic wolf -named Maya, reaching a milestone development in preserving rare and endangered species.

Maya, originally from the High Arctic tundra of Canada's Queen Elizabeth Islands, was created through the same technique used for cloning Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal engineered in Scotland in 1996.

The report was first published in China's state-controlled media Global Times.

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