BREEDERS SOCIETY AND REGISTRY ®
a division of Happy Mountain® Farm Inc.
We provide information on all 26 breed categories of miniature cattle. The Beginners Guide to Owning Your Own Miniature Cattle Business is a guidebook currently available, bursting with information. The Beginners Guide consists of a 24 part article series, for $42 per book. Click Here to Order or Call (253) 631-1911 Fax (253) 631-5774, email firstname.lastname@example.org Advertise to the world - you can place classified ads for your product, services and cattle on this web site - click here.
MINIATURE CATTLE EMBRYOS AND SEMEN FOR WORLDWIDE EXPORT TO THE FOLLOWING COUNTRIES:
LANGUAGE TRANSLATION SERVICE
Link to: http://babelfish.altavista.com/translate.dyn for bilingual translations.
Albania , Algeria , Anguilla Island, Antigua and Barbuda , Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, British Virgin Is., Bulgaria, Canada, Canary Island, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, European Union, Falkland Islands, Finland, France, French Guyana, Grenada, Germany, Greece, Guadeloupe, Guam, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Korea Republic Of, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Malta, Marshall Island, Martinique, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Netherlands Antilles, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, St. Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent Grenadines, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Tanzania United Republic of, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Turks and Caicos Island, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, The United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
There are currently 12 breeds of miniature cattle from which we can collect embryos and/or semen for worldwide export as well as U.S. domestic use.
Click on breed name to see breeding group pictures.
Call or e-mail for pictures and information on animals in a particular
Embryos available for immediate export depending on the countries specific regulations.
Happy Mountain® Breed - 12 Embryos - $1250.00 each
Pricing will vary per breed but generally will be from $2000 to $3000 to $4000 per embryo plus shipping (call for a quote and information on a specific breed). We can also furnish pre-sexed embryos guaranteed at 90% to the gender of your choice. Price will also vary based on the quantity but we do require a minimum of a 10 embryo order. There is a 10% discount for orders of over 20 embryos. We also require a $6000 nonrefundable down payment with an order which covers the cost of transporting the animal to the flushing station and the cost of storage while the animals are there. This charge is in addition to the cost of embryos. There is no guarantee as to how many embryos will be collected but the animal will be at the flushing station for at least three months with three to four flushes. If embryos are collected for the specific requirements of a destination country the buyer must purchase all embryos collected for that country.
Semen price per straw will also vary per breed but generally will be from $75 to $500 per straw. Semen is sold on the basis of a minimum 100 straw order. The transportation and storage costs are the same as for embryo collection. Quantity discounts will vary per breed. We can also furnish pre-sexed semen at 90% gender of your choice. Call for quote on a per breed basis.
Live animal shipments can also be arranged. Call for quote on various breeds.
All funds are in US dollars. Payment can be made by VISA or Master Card or bank transfer.
International Miniature Cattle Breeders Society
FEEDING THE WORLD BY EXPORTING BREEDS OF PEDIGREED MINIATURE CATTLE FROM THE U.S. AROUND THE GLOBE
By: Professor Emeritus Richard H. Gradwohl
A RESEARCH PROJECT SPONSORED BY THE INTERNATIONAL MINIATURE CATTLE BREEDERS SOCIETY
INTRODUCTION: Exportation of live miniature cattle from the U.S. to various countries worldwide is possible. However, the requirements both on the part of the United States Department of Agriculture and also from destination countries can be restrictive and complicated. For instance, live cattle cannot currently be shipped to Europe from the United States because of a cattle disease here in the U.S. known as "Blue Tongue". Semen and embryos can be shipped to Europe and to just about any country in Europe. Embryos are now collected and approved for all European Union Countries. (Peter interview, 2008) The process and requirements of collecting semen and embryos for countries other than Europe will vary on a country by country basis. Embryos collected for Australia for example are not approved for New Zealand or other countries. These two countries have different collection procedure requirements as do most other countries. Usually the veterinarian or technician actually doing the embryo collection must also be approved by the destination country. (Peter interview, 2008)
The techniques of cattle embryo collection have been understood for quite a while. These techniques have been refined considerably from the original attempts. The benefits of ET are obvious. A good cow may have 10 -14 calves during her life, but with ET you can raise dozens of calves from that same cow. Embryo transfer is seemingly an ever changing field. On his website Dr. Roger Davis suggests "Embryo Transfer is an ever changing and expanding field. The first calf produced experimentally was in 1951, but it took until the 1970's for the first calf to be commercially produced (in England). The commercial embryo transfer industry in North American developed in the early 1970's with the introduction of exotic European breeds of cattle. Embryo transfer is basically used to exploit the genetics of the female in the same way that frozen semen was used to exploit the genetics of the male. As ET technology developed and improved, embryo transplant became more commonplace and affordable. It was used for genetic improvement rather than for increasing numbers of a particular breed or phenotype. Today it is the main method of moving genetic matings around the world". (www.davis.rairdan.com/embryo-transfer.htm)
BACKGROUND: In many regions of the world, especially third world or developing countries, the progression to larger and larger cattle was, and remains, impractical. The late 1980s research project of the National Research Council (1991) which included eighty countries was done "to raise awareness of the potential of small livestock species" and "geared towards benefiting developing nations." (Boden, pg 3)
The serious development of miniature cattle in the United States started around 1966 when a Washington State breeder started developing smaller pet type breeds. He toured the U.S in a quest to locate some of the original cattle genetics that came from Europe in the 1700 and 1800's. Cattle that were developed in Europe were smaller than today's larger cattle. Generally European cattle at that time were 42" and under. A five acre plot in Europe is an estate and cattle breeders wanted smaller feed efficient animals that could be raised on small acreage. In the 1940's and through the 1960's Americans started breeding larger cattle as a result of soldiers coming home from the war in Europe and the end of rationing. The demand for beef increased dramatically; after all the returning soldiers were hungry and they hadn't tasted beef in a long time. The demand for beef literally took off and the idea that bigger is better became the accepted practice. In the process of making bigger animals, tenderness and taste were sacrificed and the business of feed lots came into vogue. Feed lots added fat to the carcass which created a desirable taste for beef. The USDA developed standards such as choice and prime which measured the degree to which the beef was marbleized (fat content).
In his quest to regain the natural tenderness of grass fed miniature cattle the Washington breeder started several crossbreeding programs. These efforts have resulted in the development of 18 completely new breeds of miniature cattle. The size qualifications are 42"and under is full miniature, over 42" up to 48" is midsized miniature and 36" and under is referred to as a micro mini. (www.minicattle.com) The size of these eighteen breeds will vary on a breed basis but generally three of the breeds are midsize, twelve of the breeds are full miniature and three of the breeds are micro mini. The Washington State farmer has determined that these miniature cattle consume roughly one third of what a standard size animal would consume. This makes them very feed efficient and potentially profitable for the small acreage farmer.
How then do you define what a breed of cattle is? Professor Hammack in an article published by Texas A&M University suggests "one definition of a breed might be animals recorded in an association regsitry. There are currently some 75 cattle breed registries in the United States, in some cases with more than one registry for essentially the same breed. The only actions needed to start a registry are to adopt specific requirements of eligibility, such as height, and start recording ancestry. Although these requirements may vary considerably and may not be very stringent, having a registry may be about as good a definition of a breed as any". The distinguished animal breeder Dr. Jay Lush in The Genetics of Populations, said, "a breed is a group of domestic animals, termed such by common consent of the breeders." In short "a breed" is whatever you say it is. I prefer the definition that a "breed" is a group of animals from a common background all of which breed true within an acceptable range of standards. This is the definition used for the eighteen new breeds of miniature cattle that have been developed.
The eighteen new breeds of miniature cattle are: American BeltieTM, AuburnshireTM, BarbeeTM, Belted Irish JerseyTM, Belted Lessor JerseyTM, Belted KingshireTM, Belted Milking DexterTM, Miniature Black BaldieTM, BurienshireTM, CovingtonshireTM, Four Breed Grad-WohlTM, Five Breed Grad-WohlTM, Happy Mountain®, JustinshireTM, Kentshire®, KingshireTM, Panda®, Red Kentshire®. There are currently three new breeds under development: Mini HolsteinTM, Red Panda® and White DexterTM. (www.minicattle.com)
These various breeds of miniature cattle have been developed to appeal to several different niche markets. At this point there are seven different niche markets: the pet market, the breeder market, the show market, the mini milker market, the organic beef market, the grass fed all natural beef market and the export market. (www.minicattle.com)
The export market including live animals, semen, embryos and cloned embryos is the subject of this research. Little is known of the viability of collecting embryos from miniature cattle although it has been done to a limited extent. The progress that has been made in embryo transfer science pertains primarily to standard size animals.
ADVANTAGES OF MINIATURE CATTLE FOR SMALL FARMS: At last count there are a total of twenty-six breed categories of miniature cattle registered in the International Miniature Cattle Breeds Registry. Miniature cattle are either selected reproductions of the older animals or are a result of several crossbreed programs. These crossbreed programs have the advantage of creating heterosis also referred to as hybrid vigor resulting in higher performance levels in their progeny. Whenever you cross one distinct breed with another the results can be an animal with outstanding performance characteristics superior to any of its foundation breeds. Composite breeds can be composed of three, four, five or more breeds. In an article by John Winder he suggests:
"This effect (hybrid vigor) results in substantial improvement in production efficiency. Hybrid vigor is maximized when two traditional breeds are crossed. Progeny from this mating is called an F1. In the F1, all gene pairs contain one gene from one parent (breed 1) and one gene from the other parent (breed 2).
In most situations, it is not feasible to maintain an F1 herd; so, we usually lose some of the advantages of hybrid vigor over time. Traditional methods used to maintain hybrid vigor require multiple breeding pastures and sire breeds.
On the other hand, a properly designed composite breed will maintain most of the hybrid vigor present in the F1 even though the composite is mated like a purebred breed. The amount of hybrid vigor lost (relative to the F1) is a function of the probability of genes from the same parental breed pairing at any location on any chromosome.
Conversely, the amount of hybrid vigor maintained is a function of the probability of genes from different breeds pairing. In a composite breed, the probability that genes at any location come from different breeds is determined by the number and proportion of breeds used in the development process.
So, in a 4-breed composite of this type, we expect to maintain 75% of F1 hybrid vigor indefinitely.
Since only one breeding pasture is needed, composite breeding systems are ideal for small to medium-sized herds. Also, in a composite herd, cows, calves and bulls all benefit from the effect of hybrid vigor. The only serious down side to composite breeding systems is lack of availability of quality composite cattle in many parts of the US. However, this is being quickly remedied as new and established seedstock producers have entered the market. Composite breeding systems have had a large effect on the swine industry. Many project similar impact in the beef industry as well." (www.noble.org)
Miniature cattle are continuing to gain in popularity as farm size continues to shrink. The day of the one hundred to five hundred acre family farm has just about come to an end. Today the two acre, five acre, or ten acre family homestead farm is becoming more common. The smaller cattle breeds are particularly well suited for these small acreage farms for several reasons. Composite breeding systems as mentioned in the above article are particularly useful in applications to smaller farms. The breeding system can be maintained on small acreage. In the September 2000 edition of Small Farm Today, Dr. John Ikerd, in an article entitled "Small Farms: Perceptions versus Realities," addresses common misperceptions about small-scale agriculture.
Misperception: Small-farm operators are not real farmers.
Misperception: A family cannot depend on a small farm for a significant part of their living.
Misperception: Many small farms earn little, if any, net income.
Misperception: The only way for a small farm to survive and succeed is for it to get larger, to grow into more efficient technologies.
According to Dr. Ikerd, the future of human civilization depends not only on food, but also on a healthy environment and a civilized human society. There is no better means of sustaining human life on earth than to have people of the land who are intellectually capable of and ethically committed to meeting the needs of both present and future generations through farming. Small farms rule! (www.noble.org)
Small cattle are easier on the land, equipment and facilities. Those of us who once had large cattle remember the constant work on fencing, barn repairs, and hours mending broken equipment. The small animals just don't have the bulk to do much harm. Pastures seem to stay greener longer because these miniature cattle weigh less and their hooves are smaller. Equipment maintenance is rare and you don't need the heavy equipment.
It's much easier to maintain a small herd as opposed to a solitary animal. Some folks with small acreage farms purchase one large animal to raise their own beef. Cattle are herd animals. You need more than one. A solitary animal just does not do as well as two or three together. With the small breeds it's possible to put two or three animals in the same area that you might put just one large animal. This is much better for the animals.
More animals per acre is the key here. Because you can raise more animals in the same amount of space beef production per acre is twice to three times as much. It takes about five acres to raise two large animals, depending where and on the pasture available. On the same area you could raise 10 smaller cattle with one of the small cattle breeds. This is based on the average concentration of two miniature cattle per acre with an average weight of 500 - 700 pounds depending on the breed and whether a bull or heifer. It doesn't take a computer scientist to figure out total beef production per acre is much greater with the smaller cattle.
These smaller cattle are 25% more efficient in terms of feed conversion than their larger counterparts and therefore eat much less. About 1/3 the feed is typical compared to a large animal. (www.minicattle.com) Miniature cattle come closer to a families needs than large commercial beef. One beef per locker is a lot more desirable than raising more beef than you need. Miniature cattle can also be a great investment and at the same time be helpmates with the grass and brush. Cattle sold at a cattle auction are sold by the weight of the animal whereas miniature cattle are usually sold on a per animal basis. The price of miniature cattle are significantly higher than standard size cattle. Therefore the potential profitability from the investment can be much greater than with larger cattle.
Miniature cattle are also much less intimidating and easier to handle. The truth of the matter, however, is that they make great pets. Most owners of these great little animals would probably never consider them for beef purposes. Because they are easy to work with it is very easy to give them names and develop bonding relationships. Can you eat some of the miniatures? Yes you can. In fact 50% of your production on the average will be bulls. They do produce excellent quality meat.
MARKETING FEATURES OF MINIATURE CATTLE:
EXPORTING LIVE CATTLE: There are several locations to which you can ship cattle for export. These locations will store them, feed them and take care of all export requirements and documentations. The better known of these facilities are located in Calgary Canada, Florida, Atlanta Georgia and Los Angeles. Animals can be shipped by air or by boat. Air is likely the best method because animals get there quicker and there is less stress. Large numbers of animals shipped at one time usually require boat transport. In either case shippers require an attendant to accompany animals to the point of destination. Usually costs include at least one attendance passage. Air shipments can be done from most major airline hubs.
I have shipped by air out of Seattle by a major airline. The experience was very satisfactory. Different models of planes have differing heights in their cargo areas. The height of an animal is crucial to determining which plane model an animal might be appropriate for. Some airlines will ship live animals as long as they fit in the largest dog carrier #500. Others will not ship live animals at all. You can talk to the various airlines and also to freight forwarders to determine which airline and which plane would be appropriate for your destination. Cargo airlines are a little different. FedEx and Cargo Lux ship live animals in pens. The typical pen will hold three horses or several miniature cattle. The size of the pen is typically 125 inches in length, 96 inches in width and 94 inches in height. Depending on the size of your cattle you could figure out how many animals could go in a pen. They usually figure one attendant passage per pen. In either case shipping by boat or air can be a lot more costly than you might think. Airfare can be anywhere from $7500.00 per pen up to $20,000.00. The current live animal pen airfare to South Africa for example is $11,250.00. There is also a weight charge on top of the base airfare charge. Simply divide the number of animals per pen to get your per animal shipping cost. (Personal Interview, Brett Ripley - freight forwarder)
The USDA has certain procedures that must be followed for all live cattle shipments which apply to miniature cattle and standard size cattle. All animals to be shipped out of the US must first be isolated and quarantined for at least 30 days at a distance no less than 30 feet from any other animals. Any person entering the quarantine area must wear disinfected boots and disinfected coveralls. Boots must be disinfected both upon entering and leaving the quarantine area. All trailers and equipment used for transport to an airport or boat must also be disinfected. The plane or boat must also be disinfected. A USDA vet must first inspect the animals and approve the area for isolation. A farm vet will need to monitor the animals while in isolation. When animals are to be taken to the point of shipment the USDA vet must accompany the animals and will stay with the animals until the plane or boat leaves. Per hour charges for USDA vets will vary, but usually around $84.00 per hour which is on top of shipping and quarantine charges. (Personal Interview, Dr. Robert Williams - USDA vet)
Every country will have its own specific requirements for importation of live animals. Regulations per country can change frequently so current regulations need to be determined. The United States Department of Agriculture can provide a list of countries that are the most common to which animals have been shipped. The USDA attempts to provide the most current import requirements on the part of these various countries. To quote the USDA:
International health certificates for the export of animals from the United States are completed by an accredited veterinarian who certifies herd and animal health status, conducts tests, and records test results for the individual animals being exported. Complete and signed international health certificates for the export of animals from the United States must be endorsed by a Veterinary Services area office in order to be valid. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), Veterinary Services (VS) has created the International Animal Product Export Regulations (IREGS) to provide exporters with our best understanding of importing countries requirements for certain animal-origin products. (www.aphis.usda.gov/import)
EXPORTING MINIATURE CATTLE EMBRYOS: The International Embryo Transfer Society reports that total numbers of collections of transferred cattle embryos have increased which brought the total number of embryos transferred for 2005 to more than 600,000, a more than 10% increase. Table 1 shows that more than 130,000 donor cows were flushed from which close to 800,000 transferable embryos were attained. It is thought that these figures are definitely underestimated. The question for producers of miniature cattle is, of these figures how many represent miniature cattle flushes and embryo implants? Although there are no reliable estimates my realistic estimate would be close to zero. If true, business opportunities have not yet even started. There would be an overwhelming potential for miniature cattle embryo sales. The realization of this potential would be a matter of how well you access and penetrate the market.
Table 1. Overall Activity of In Vivo-Derived Bovine Embryos in 2005.
(*) Those European data are derived from the statistics of AETE, 2006.
(**) One country did not split the figures between fresh and frozen (Total 2,211). By convention, they were all included in the frozen column so as to take them into account in the gross total.
(***) Due to lack of responses from many ET teams from this continent, this line is highly underestimated.
FEEDING THE WORLD WITH MINIATURE CATTLE: Starting with one bred heifer large herds of miniature cattle can be developed in less than eight years. One heifer can be responsible for over 1255 animals, two heifers can develop 2510 animals, three can develop 3765, four can develop over 5020 and so on. If you start with ten bred heifers in less than eight years over 12,255 animals will be the size of the herd. What if you started with 20 or 30 or 100 bred heifers? The ability to provide a protein source for the world's population does exist with feed efficient miniature cattle. Several breeds of mid-sized miniature cattle could do the job. The Belted Kingshire®, Kentshire® and Happy Mountain® cattle breeds are among these. The Kentshire® and Happy Mountain® are two breed triple cross animals. The Belted Kingshire® is a four breed composite breed. All three of these breeds have great heterosis with 75% heterosis retention.
I have wondered for quite some time how many animals could be produced in say eight years by flushing and implanting embryos. As previously mentioned embryo flushing and implanting is a technique that has been around long enough to get most of its problems solved; or at least to give those that do it the necessary experience. We should be on the downside of the learning curve. I've done some rather extensive research on this question of how many in how long. To my surprise readings and investigations I've done have not found a source that gives an adequate answer. Most authors and people with whom I have talked agree that there is great potential but no actual numbers are given. Predictability studies have been done for other animals but evidently not for cattle. The key word here is "potential". There are all kinds of variables that can influence outcomes in either a positive or negative direction. When you're dealing with nature the outcomes are never a sure thing. What I'm after here is some sort of mathematical projection that can tell us what kind of potential might be realized. Maybe I just didn't ask the right people so perhaps I'm simply reinventing the wheel. However, my background as a college Professor and researcher just won't let a question go unanswered. I need to know. You can't tell, the answer might come in handy someday sometime somehow or in some way. Particularly if you need to feed the world someday, perhaps sooner than later.
I've determined if you start with just one bred heifer you have the potential to end up with 1255 animals in just under 8 years. Amazing isn't it? I would not have guessed the potential is that great and it may be even a little greater, depending on how things go and what choices are made. It was necessary to construct a progressive flow chart of births and flushes to come up with this answer (see Flow Chart). I'll try to run you through the flow chart as simply as I can.
A single heifer from conception to her last eight year birthing has the potential of being flushed 15 times and giving birth to five heifer calves over a 95 month period. Each of the flushes has the potential of producing +- 5 embryos (current estimates are now 7.6 on average - Personal Interview, Jared Knock) and each of these embryos has the potential of producing a live calf that in turn can produce progeny that in turn can also be flushed and so on. Recipient females would be implanted each time with pre-sexed embryos using pre-sexed semen in an in-vitro program (recent technology) to increase the likelihood of heifer calves. The five heifer calves from the original heifer, then, can themselves be flushed which in turn produce embryos that produce progeny that can be flushed and so on. Each birthing has a nineteen month cycle from birth to completion of three flushes. The formula is 15 + 3 + 1 = 19. It takes fifteen months from birth to maturity at which time a first flush is done. From the first flush you wait 1.5 months to a second flush then 1.5 months to the third and final flush. The animal is then given a one month rest to allow time for the uterus to get back to normal and then either artificially inseminated or implanted. This then, starts a second nineteen month cycle from conception to birth to weaning to rest to flush to rest to AI or implant = 9 + 5 + 1 + 3 + 1 = 19. Note that we are waiting until the calf is weaned at five months and start flushing thirty days later. It might be possible to start flushing earlier with a calf at side (this is current thinking). Most authorities I've talked to, however, tend to feel this tends to reduce the flushing success rate. It's important to remember that from the point in time of a successful implant it takes 28 months until the animal produced from the implant can complete flushing. From the point in time that a birth occurs it takes 19 months until that animal can complete flushing. Also when a cow or heifer is bred it takes nineteen months to complete flushing and to be re-bred. There are of course several assumptions to this exercise:
l. You start with a bred heifer, wean her calf at five months and start flushing at 6 months. If you started with a cow, the first 19 month cycle in the 8 year period could start with a flush. The time frame for total animals produced would then be a little less or the total animals produced could be a little higher.
2. The success rate of implants will average 60%. This could be higher or lower. The formula for a sequence of 3 flushes and implants is 3 x 5 x 60% (3 flushes x 5 embryos per flush x 60% implant success rate). Subsequent flushes of progeny produced from implants would be 3 x 9 x 5 x 60% and then 3 x 40.5 x 5 x 60% and so on. It is important to note that we are assuming that by starting with pre-sexed embryos 100% of the progeny will be female. Depending on the success of the pre-sexed embryos this may or may not be the case.
3. No consideration is given to the 40% of implants that were not successful. These might be successful on a second try. If so, the number of animals produced could be higher particularly if proven recipient cows were available and used.
4. At some point in the breeding program it might be advantageous to produce bulls using pre-sexed embryos. These bulls could then be steered and used as a food source.
5. Using pre-sexed embryos on the original heifer will produce five female calves over the time span. Current experience suggests 7.6 is more a realistic average.
6. The number of embryos per flush per animal will average 5.
7. Heifers can be successfully flushed starting at 15 months and then at 6 week intervals for a total of 3 flushes. This might be increased by at least one flush.
8. With a heifer or cow you wait from birth to 6 months to start a flushing sequence. As mentioned, it might be possible to flush earlier with calf at side.
9. Cows and heifers can be successfully implanted or AI 30 days after their last flush. This may take a little longer depending on the animal.
I'm sure there are other assumptions and variables perhaps not considered. For example, there is new technology relating to splitting embryos which could influence results. This has not been considered. Also new technology regarding in-vitro fertilization has not been considered. I do believe, however, this exercise has resulted in a meaningful model for predictability of progeny numbers of cattle over time based on current embryo flushing and implanting methodology. To my knowledge this projection has not been accomplished before. It should serve as a basis for some lively academic discussion in the world of embryo implant technology.
Now consider the potential outcomes if you start with three heifers or four or five. Or three cows or four or five. Your imagination might tell you we could have more of a problem feeding all the cattle than people. That's called over supply. If you remember your economics the price could decrease to the point that it does not cover cost. Now wait a minute, we are talking about miniature cattle that require one third the feed of large animals. This means price could decrease more substantially before margins could go completely to pot. There just might be some security in the demand curve when you are in the "miniature" cattle business. Considering that hay and grain requirements to feed miniature cattle are one third compared to large animals and total beef production per acre of farm land is three to five times that of large animals miniature cattle represent a significantly less costly protein source. (www.minicattle.com) With large cattle it takes about 700 calories worth of animal feed to produce a 100 calorie portion of beef. (Grains Gone Wild - Paul Krugman, April 2008) With some miniature cattle breeds it only takes 250 calories to produce that same portion of beef. (www.minicattle.com) In addition the pasture area required is significantly less which is quite important considering that farmlands worldwide are shrinking. Also, other farm costs such as fertilizers, running tractors and, not least, transporting farm products to consumers are spread over a greater number of animals per acre. This reduces production costs per head even further.
ADVANCES IN EMBRYO TRANSFER TECHNOLOGY: On his website Dr. Roger Davis outlines some of the recent advances in ET technology. His comments about embryo sexing, ultrasonography, embryo splitting, in-vitro fertilization and cloning are quite perceptive and worth a reprint here (www.davis.rairdan.com):
Embryo sexing requires that a small biopsy be removed from the embryo and analyzed using DNA technology to determine the sex. This technology is considered cost effective and is utilized quite commonly in dairy cattle. On average, the pregnancy rate with frozen-sexed embryos is slightly lower that non- manipulated embryos. The procedure is quite tedious, time consuming and adds cost to frozen embryos. It's use questionable as to it being cost effective in beef herds. The biopsy also penetrates the zona pellucida (shell) which yields the embryos non exportable to some countries.
Ultrasonography is used commonly to evaluate ovaries, detect early pregnancy (27 days), and determine the sex of the fetus (55-70 days gestation). Ultrasound is a very useful tool and can help utilize recipients more efficiently by early pregnancy testing and re-use of open recipients. Examining the ovaries of Donor cows and recipients can also be useful in determining if the ovaries are functioning properly. Ultrasound is an excellent tool to use in general reproductive examinations as well.
Embryo Splitting has been used more commonly in the past. It is used to produce identical twins. The number of calves from a given number of embryos can be increased, however twice as many recipients are needed and the pregnancy rate id decreased. The high cost of recipients makes this technology questionable from an economics standpoint.
IVF or In-Vitro Fertilization is basically "test-tube calves". This procedure is quite effective in producing embryos, however the pregnancy rates can be disappointing and the abortion rates are high with high incidence of giant calves which leads to low numbers of healthy live calves. This technique is practical for very valuable cows that will not reproduce using conventional ET. Frozen IVF embryos yield varying and mostly disappointing pregnancy results.
Cloning uses ET as part of the process to produce pregnancies. This technology has greatly improved and is restricted to research and very valuable animals such as transgenic animals like Dolly the sheep that are used to produce rare pharmaceuticals. In Canada there are presently restrictions on selling production (semen) from cloned or genetically modified animals.
Embryo transfer has come a long way in the past 30 years with the technological advances. The thing that hasn't changed is the fact that you should still only flush the genetically superior donors with a track record. Economics still rules the decisions. Now more than ever ET is used for movement of genetics worldwide. More now than ever, the good ones are bringing a premium and are easy to market. Embryo transfer is a tool to help get more of those "good ones".
MARKETING FEATURES OF EXPORTING EMBRYOS COMPARED TO LIVE CATTLE:
CONCLUSION: According to several authorities there is a worldwide crisis underway that has not been well publicized. I am referring to a world food crisis. Miniature cattle have the potential of contributing to the solution of this problem for the many reasons as outlined in this research paper. Feed efficient animals at higher pasture concentrations could be an answer.
THIS IS THE FLOW CHART FOR THE FIRST BIRTH ONLY. YOU CAN REQUEST A COMPLETE FLOW CHART BY CONTACTING THE IMCBS AT email@example.com
Peter, Dr. Don. Personal Interview - Veterinarian for Frontier Genetics, Oregon USA, February 2008.
Ripley, Brett. Personal Interview - Freight Forwarder - Washington State USA, March 2008.
Williams, Dr. Robert. Personal Interview - USDA Vet - Washington State USA, March 2008.
Lush, Dr. Jay. The Genetics of Population
Krugman, Paul. Grains Gone Wild - Op Ed Columnist, April 7, 2008
Lents, J.H. The Basis of Linebreeding, 1991.
Drake, Daniel J. Beef Management, 2006
National Research Council 1991 - Micro Live Stock
Murphy, Bill. Greener Pastures on Your Side of the Fence, 1998
Warwick, James Everett. Breeding and Improvement of Farm Animals, 1979
Porter, Valerie. The Field Guide to Cattle, 2008
Boden, Dana W. R. Miniature Cattle: For Real, For Pets, For Production
Copyright 2008, International Miniature Cattle Breeders Society. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reprinted or copied in any manner without written permission from the publisher.