Cow Clone
Cow Clone

Cloned beef coming to a plate near you

THE future of Australian farming is unfolding on a Queensland property as an innovative couple take the beef industry into the cutting edge world of cloning.

Twenty three years after "Dolly'' arrived in the world as the first mammal cloned from adult somatic cells, two prized Queensland-bred cows have had tissue removed in a Melbourne laboratory, to be stored in liquid nitrogen and prepared for cloning.

Colleen and Dave Smith, with 29 years experience in breeding on Vale View Droughtmaster Stud in the Kingaroy district, see cloning as maximising both fertility and carcass weight as the best of their breeding lines gets replicated.

Cloning is not new to Queensland with "Mini'' the calf born in 2007 on a Central Queenland property claiming the title as the nation's first.

Eve, a cloned cow, gave birth to a calf in 2016 in a collaboration between Australian Reproductive Technologies (ART) and Rockhampton's Central Queensland University.

Farmers Colleen and Dave Smith with some of their droughtmaster cattle on their property at Manumbar. Picture: Lachie Millard
Farmers Colleen and Dave Smith with some of their droughtmaster cattle on their property at Manumbar. Picture: Lachie Millard

ART managing director Simon Walton said the birth of the second generation proved cloning was no "freak show''and the science could help revolutionise animal industries.

Dr Richard Fry, from the Speed Breed laboratory in Melbourne which is overseeing the Vale View cloning program, says cells can be taken from almost any tissue but the skin of the animal is most often used.

"From the tissue sample we can induce cells and grow maybe 20 million of them and then store them in liquid nitrogen and take them out whenever we want to start the cloning process,'' Dr Fry said.

Colleen Smith feeding the cattle. Picture: Lachie Millard
Colleen Smith feeding the cattle. Picture: Lachie Millard

With the Queensland beef industry taking a hammering this year as precious breeding stock were lost to north west floods of last February, the innovative farming couple are providing a guide post to the future.

Even with cattle prices slightly off the boil after a strong year in 2018, Dave says there are lucrative years ahead for the Queensland cattle industry.

"Believe me, you wouldn't be putting the sort of money we are putting into it if you did not believe that was true.''