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Cloned cow adds Moonshine to the mix

By Stephanie Schupska
University of Georgia

Since her unusual start in a Petri dish, KC has matured into a very normal cow. And on the last day of 2005, she routinely gave birth to Moonshine, her second calf.

“KC has done just like every other cow out there and produced a calf within 12 to 13 months of her last calf,” said Steve Stice, the University of Georgia scientist who directed the team of scientists who cloned KC.

“Moonshine and Sunshine (KC’s firstborn) were both normal pregnancies and were delivered without assistance, which is important to commercial cow-calf operations that will be using cloning to improve the quality, diseases resistance and productivity of their herds.”

KC is different from other cloned cows because she is the first to be cloned from kidney cells taken from a frozen side of beef. The others have been formed from living animals, Stice said.

“Right now there are probably a lot of cloned cows out there having calves,” he said, “which is a good thing because it proves cloned cows do have normal offspring.”

The public is still wary of cloned cows. Around the time Moonshine’s sister, Sunshine, was born in December 2004, polls indicated that nearly 60 percent of U.S. consumers opposed cloning animals, including livestock.

Stice hopes that will eventually change.

“The Food and Drug Administration has still not given their approval on cloned animals entering the food chain,” he said. “They have the data they need to give the clearance but other issues may be slowing this down. Once the FDA acts, I think it will mark the beginning of wider acceptance of cloned animals.”

Stice is a Georgia Research Alliance eminent scholar and one of the world's top cloning experts. He conducted the cloning research with the biotechnology firm ProLinia Inc., which was later bought by ViaGen Inc.

Since cattle were first domesticated, farmers have been trying to improve their herds through selective breeding. Cloning can speed up the process by allowing scientists to make exact copies of the desired animals and their traits.

According to UGA agricultural specialist Joseph Durham, Moonshine came into the world weighing 70 pounds. And although KC did all the work, various animal and dairy science faculty members got to name the new calf.

“We did a survey of the animal and dairy science department,” Stice said, “and Moonshine came up on several suggestions.”

They decided to move away from the disco theme that started when Sunshine was named after the rhythm and blues group, KC and the Sunshine Band. But Stice recalls that Boogie Shoes, a hit song from the band, was one of the names suggested.

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.)

(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)

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