VeggieBoards banner
1 - 2 of 2 Posts

19,873 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
With government's permission, ranchers hope to sell the bulls, made by genetic scientists, for thousands.

The five jet-black bulls trotting around Dean Kephart's red-dirt ranch have the same wide rump, long neck and stubby horns.

In fact, the half-ton, half-grown adolescents are the same in every way - they're clones.

Red plastic tags punched in their bushy ears are the only method of keeping track of Full Flush 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. All are exact genetic copies of Full Flush, Kephart's prize-winning celebrity sire of more than 30,000 calves across the country.

The handsome bovine, perfect in most every way, was cloned for one reason: He wasn't performing up to his stud potential. Full Flush doesn't produce semen fast enough to satisfy the hundreds of ranchers paying $50 each to artificially inseminate their cows in hopes of producing top-quality, fat and juicy steaks.

At 14 months, Full Flush's clones are nearly ready to become fathers, and Kephart is anxious to start recouping the $25,000 invested in each bull.

But first Kephart and the handful of other U.S. ranchers who've cloned cattle to sell their semen need permission from the Food and Drug Administration, which has so far not approved them - or any other cloned animals - for human consumption. A decision isn't expected for months and may not come until next year.

Don Coover, a Kansas bull semen broker, didn't know Full Flush's clones would be kept out of the food chain when he proposed to Kephart that they clone the bull. An FDA letter on the issue came out after Coover began the project.

'Star Wars stuff'

But he has no regrets about putting up thousands of dollars to clone the champion bull, whose semen is one of the hot sellers at Coover's SEK Genetics/Genetic Horizons in Galesburg, Kan.

Kephart needed a bit of coaxing.

"To a lot of producers, this was kind of Star Wars stuff," Coover said.

Coover punched out a piece of Full Flush's ear, then shipped the tissue sample to Cyagra, a cloning company in Worcester, Mass. Scientists there isolated the bull's DNA then injected it into cow eggs that had been stripped of their own genetic material.

'The dream team'

After seven days, the embryos were implanted in cows at Kansas State University. Three cows gave birth to two clones each. One of the six calves died by hanging its collar on a gate latch. The surviving five seem perfect, said Cyagra marketing director Steven Mower.

"They call them the dream team," he said.

Kephart admits his clones are spoiled, bottle-fed for the first eight weeks of life and handled like overgrown pets. "They're pretty good-lookin'," he says, running a hand over No. 2's broad back.,00.html
1 - 2 of 2 Posts