Campus: CSU, Chico -- March 16, 2001
Rare Cloned Calves Born At CSU, Chico Farm
Three cloned calves have been born and are doing well at California
State University, Chico's College of Agriculture. The embryos were cloned
at a biotechnology firm in Kansas and raised at the College's University
Farm. Nationwide, only 10 cloned calves have reportedly survived pregnancy
The Charolais-breed calves were born Friday, March 9, and are currently
being nursed by their surrogate mother cows, which are Herefords. The
cloned embryos were transferred into the cows by injection, and the
mothers successfully carried the calves to term through the 283-day
Fourteen embryos of two breeds, Charolais and Black Angus, were transferred
to surrogate cows. No pregnancies resulted from the Black Angus breed.
Neither type of embryo was genetically modified. The calves are clones
of existing cattle breeds.
Two of the three Charolais calves were born twins to one surrogate cow.
Since two embryos were transferred to each surrogate, to increase the
likelihood of pregnancy, twin births were expected.
The College of Agriculture engaged in the embryo transfer process through
a $58,000 grant from the state Agricultural Research Initiative (ARI).
Mandatory matching grants were received from Red Bluff cattle breeder
Dan Byrd, who provided the cows from which the DNA for the embryos were
taken, and Cyagra, a Manhattan, Kan., biotech firm which performed the
Two years ago, the state allocated $5 million for four California State
University campuses that have agriculture programs (Chico, Fresno, Pomona
and San Luis Obispo). The ARI funding supports applied agricultural
research in areas such as agricultural business management, biodiversity,
biotechnology, irrigation management and natural resource management.
Matching funds are required to ensure that the research is considered
to have value outside of the university.
CSU, Chico agriculture professor Cindy Daley, coordinator of the campus
project, said four university campuses nationally have received cloned
embryos from Cyagra, a subsidiary of Advanced Cell Technologies in Amherst,
Mass. To date, only 10 successful births have been reported.
The process began with the cells being taken from the ear of cows belonging
to Byrd. Cyagra used biotechnological methods to turn the cells into
embryos. The embryos were seven days old when CSU, Chico received them,
and they were immediately placed by injection into the surrogates. Daley
said transfer of sexually produced embryos has been used with cattle
since the 1970s.
Because of possible difficulties with a vaginal birth, the calves were
delivered by Cesarean section at a UC Davis veterinary lab.
CSU, Chico students of Daley's are currently caring for the calves.
Once the calves are grown they will be given to Byrd.
"Since the survival rate of the embryos was low nationwide, we're
very pleased with the fact that three of ours survived and are doing
well," Daley said.
Daley said the ARI project goals were to investigate if cloned cattle
embryos were viable, how the surrogate cow pregnancies proceeded and
whether the calves would be healthy.
With the Charolais calves doing well, Daley said there is reason for
optimism about the utility of cloned embryo transfer for industry. At
the same time, commercial application may not come soon. "Embryo
transfer met a great deal of resistance when it was developed 30 years
ago," said Daley. "This may take a similar amount of time
to be widely accepted."
Cloned cattle stock, Daley said, would have obvious value to agriculture
because the cattle would be based on the DNA of the hardiest, healthiest
"The science being used in this project is not new, but the application
to agriculture is," said College of Agriculture Dean Charles Crabb.
"This is not cutting-edge science, but it is cutting-edge industry."