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Calf clone auctioned

March 19, 2001

Calf clone auctioned



By MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

A frozen embryo calf clone brought a winning bid of $49,000 Saturday, the last day of the Maryland State Holstein Association convention.

"It was sold to an agent for a foreign buyer," said Robbie Shaw, a member of the Washington County Holstein Association, which hosted the convention.

The clone of Con-Acres HS Zita (EX-94), a prize-winning Holstein owned by the Wiles family of Williamsport, is to be born in August. It was consigned for sale by the Wiles' Futuraland 2020 Holsteins.

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Contacted just after the sale at the Washington County Agricultural Education Center, Greg Wiles said he was pleased with the winning bid.

The clone has to be born in this country and will be exported to its new owner at about 4 months of age, Wiles said. The identity of the new owner was still unknown Saturday, he said.

"This was the first sale of a clone embryo in Maryland and only the second in the nation," Shaw said.

The cloned embryo was made possible by Cyagra, a livestock cloning subsidiary of Advanced Cell Technology Inc. of Worcester, Mass.

Ron Gillespie, vice president of Cyagra, was at the convention in Washington County to provide a layman's introduction to the science of cattle cloning and review how cloning may be used by dairy producers and its possible impact on their business.

The first two of possibly several clones of Zita arrived in Williamsport on March 7.

The black and white clone calves - Cyagra Z., named for the cloning company, and Genesis Z. - were born at a Pennsylvania veterinarian hospital.

"They won't be sold," Wiles said. "They will live here forever."

Zita, who was 10 years old, died recently after breaking a vertebra in her back. She weighed more than 2,300 pounds and was a champion milk producer, Wiles said.

Shaw said cloning is not necessarily the ultimate goal of the program. The key to future dairy farm success is gene technology.

"It used to be that each farmer fed 100 people. Now each farmer feeds 115," Shaw said.

As farmland disappears, farmers need to produce more milk with fewer cows rather than having more cows.

There were more big moments at Saturday's sale.

Shaw said the first sale of the day was a record - $63,000 for a cow named Fabulous, an All-American and All-Canadian champion. It was sold to a Pennsylvania farmer.

Wiles, who served as sales chairman of the sale, said 82 head were consigned and brought a total of $399,960 at Saturday's sale. That includes the clone embryo, he said.

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