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Biotech Science

Need Milk? Get Yourself A Supercow. 78

GM OOOO writes "Sydney Morning Herald is reporting the birth of three 'supercows.' Interesting thing here, besides the potential for milk, is the fact this was done via selctive breeding and genetic selection via embryonic implantation -- not adding the gene of a sea cucumber of something to modify it to produce as it does now. Supercows - kinda reminds me of the Mootrix movie now (FEAR)."
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Need Milk? Get Yourself A Supercow.

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  • by mnmn ( 145599 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @09:08AM (#6858047) Homepage
    You would just open the door, stick in a glass and get milk. I wonder if they can make miniature supercows as pets. A portable milk container where the milk doesnt go bad.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @09:11AM (#6858069)
    As the article says, all they did was ship embryos from champion Canadian milk cows to New Zealand and implant them in host mother cows there. A fancy way to save on air freight over shipping the calves.

    Actually, there is one more detail that's probably relevant. New Zealand is free of a number of livestock diseases that bother the rest of the world (honeybees, particularly) and has extremely stringent animal quarantine regulations.

    It is possible that frozen embryos were considered to be less likely to be hiding any diseases than a full-grown calf and so the entire business was basically a way of satisfying quarantine.

    But there is absolutely nothing magic about the ancestry or genetics of the cows.
    • by Bowling Moses ( 591924 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @02:50PM (#6861375) Journal
      There's also another detail that's relevent. If these cows actually produce 3x the amount of milk, and the costs of doing this are low then it becomes interesting. Not to most of us nerds but to dairy farmers. I'm not a dairy farmer, but I do know that transporting a cow isn't too bad, but naturally gets more expensive and difficult with the distance. Transporting a bull for stud services is a bit different. Bull size depends a lot on variety, some can clear 2500 pounds or more. They are often transported sedated, but when the bull wakes up it's a ton plus of pissed-off horny beef that is trying to decide whether to kill or hump everything in sight. Embryo implantation might be/become cheaper than traditional stud services, allowing the premier beef/milk genes to get passed around more easily. It doesn't cost that much more to send a dewar full of liquid nitrogen and embryos across a state or across the country. Downside: more genetically homogeneous cow herds, and another crash in milk prices if everybody grabs "supercow" embryos to produce 3x the milk.
  • by muirhead ( 698086 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @09:27AM (#6858173) Homepage
    Three 'supercows' with the genetic potential to produce more than 14,000 litres of milk ...
    The calves, born two weeks ago, were...
    There might be a story here when these animals grow up and prove that the researchers are actually worth their stock options. In the mean time, don't count your chickens before they're hatched.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      don't count your chickens before they're hatched

      In this case, I believe the correct phrase would be "don't count your heifer before you milk the bitch."

  • Ok, so they can produce 14000 litres in a single... uhh... squeezing, but how much more initial fuel do you have to put into them? I mean, one cow, at this point, when grazing, can clear an entire square mile of pasture and be set for the day. I think. This grazing land is growing terribly scarce as the demand for moomeat and moojuice rises (more people in world) - and even then some are not getting any! But I digress.

    Ok, so they make more. But how much more do they need to do so?
    • by 'lactation' they refer to the ammount of months a cow can provide milk for, not as in 'a single sitting'.
    • "I mean, one cow, at this point, when grazing, can clear an entire square mile of pasture and be set for the day. I think."

      It's not that bad. I was curious myself since a relative of mine has a small dairy operation (~60 head on ~300 acres, probably less on both). So, from a webpage [uark.edu] from a U. Arkansas argonomy class it looks like about 80 acres of pasture will be fine for 60 head of cattle for a month. So we're talking 60x the cattle for 30x the time on 1/8th the land. But the required acreage natu
  • Welcome ! (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I, for one, welcome our new hypermammarian bovine overlords.
  • Need Milk? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sasafras ( 1908 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @10:04AM (#6858412)
    Nope. I enjoy my health [pcrm.org] too much to destroy it with one of the most bland types of junk food in existence.
    • Re:Need Milk? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WTFmonkey ( 652603 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @01:55PM (#6860779)
      Junk food if you're lazy. Old-school bodybuilders (back when they were cool, not the dorks on the covers of shit like MuscleMag and Flex nowadays) used to recommend a gallon of milk per day due to a good mix of protein, carbs (lactose is NOT as bad as fructose, sucrose, etc.) and fat. True, most of us would just get fat on a full gallon per day, but milk's fine.
      Dairy products do contain calcium, but it is accompanied by animal proteins, lactose sugar, animal growth factors, occasional drugs and contaminants, and a substantial amount of fat and cholesterol in all but the defatted versions.
      They say "substantial amount of fat and cholesterol" like that's a bad thing. Eating fat does not make you fat. Studies have shown (I'll cite them, if you really want) that diets in excess of 70% fat can still result in fat loss (and that's without ANY cardio--nothing but weight lifting 3-4 times per week). Cholesterol is extremely important in building testosterone, estrogen, growth hormone, lots of others. Low cholesterol=low testosterone in men, which is very bad. As far as "occasional drugs and contaminants," that's no different than any other food-- buy the good stuff, not the crap. If you're in good shape, your body can handle whatever you throw at it.

      If you're really worried about calcium, take a calcium carbonate supplement. It's the kind most easily absorbed by the body. Follow that with a potassium supplement (most multivitamins are low in potassium) to aid in calcium abbsorption and you're good to go.

      Wow, how did that ramble get started?

      • Re:Need Milk? (Score:2, Informative)

        by Sasafras ( 1908 )
        Given the choice between a 12 year Harvard study of 78,000 women VS the superstitions of "Old-school bodybuilders", I prefer to believe in one more than the other.

        Saturated fats are needed by the body, but in amounts way below the amounts in milk, and in combination with healthier fats lacking in milk. Cholesterol is produced by the body when needed, so none in the diet is best.

        The bigger problem is that milk is only for babies. When a lactose intolerant adult drinks milk, they get sick, and their intestine

        • Re:Need Milk? (Score:3, Informative)

          by WTFmonkey ( 652603 )

          Given the choice between a 12 year Harvard study of 78,000 women VS the superstitions of "Old-school bodybuilders", I prefer to believe in one more than the other.

          Agreed, unless I'm in the bulking phase of preparing for a competition. Then I'll listen to the pros over the scientists.

          so none in the diet is best

          Dietary cholesterol has been shown to have little or no effect on total cholesterol. See
          Reaven GM, et al. "Insulin resistance, dietary cholesterol, and cholesterol concentration in postmenopa

          • Re:Need Milk? (Score:2, Informative)

            by Sasafras ( 1908 )
            Even if dietary cholesterol has no effect at all on your total cholesterol, it makes no difference. The dietary sources of cholesterol themselves (meat/dairy) are unhealthy for many reasons and have healthy alternatives, and cholesterol can be synthesized by the body when needed. Yes, essential fatty acids are necessary, but cholesterol is not one of them. They are linoleic acid and a-linolenic acid. You can get them in decent amounts without worrying about cholesterol like you said, but the idea that milk
            • Re:Need Milk? (Score:3, Informative)

              by WTFmonkey ( 652603 )
              The "milk" part of dairy I will give you as being unhealthy, you partly convinced me there. But cottage cheese is an excellent source of protein, and your body handles it differently than milk. The active cultures in yogurt are great for you. Dairy, by and large, is good. Meat, even more by and large, is good (you don't see many vegetarian bodybuilders). As far as "healthy alternatives," I hope you don't mean soy products. I hope that what you meant to say was "red meat," to which I agree that rib and
              • You probably don't see many vegetarian bodybuilders because you don't see many vegetarians, and because people have been brainwashed into thinking you need to eat lots of meat to do it. Just how much muscle do you think you are building in one day? And how much muscle tissue are you eating? Seems excessive to me.

                I think soy is overhyped just like calcium is. Tofu and soy milk are just more processed food in my opinion. I prefer whole foods like beans, grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables. A little soy he

                • Okay, we're getting closer. Your attitude is the correct one, and I agree with you 100% right up until your last sentence! I especially like the magic-bullet part-- you're right: there's no such thing.

                  To answer your questions, during heavy-lifting phases, I shoot for 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily. During maintenance phases, I drop that to around .8 to 1 gram per pound of body weight. And of course I don't build that much. I think that getting the 2500-3000 calories (if not more) d

              • I forgot to comment on this, but you should look at the price of dried beans and brown rice at the supermarket. Cooking with beans and rice is not only extremely cheap, it is a "complete protien source" (more hype, but some people like it). It also has complex carbohydrates (which will give you sustained energy), fiber (because nobody likes to be constipated), and plenty of calcium along with other minerals and nutrients we don't completely understand (this is common with many if not most vegetables, we jus
    • That study was not focused on milk. It was generalized on calcium intake from all food and supplement sources. I'm not referring to the article you linked, but to the paper by Feskanich that it references.

      According to their study, there is an increased risk of fracture with increased calcium intake, not just milk intake. The linked article quoting the paper is actually using the paper to advocate something the paper warns against (i.e., increasing calcium intake).

      • While the article does not say to avoid calcium suppliments, it puts them at the end of the section of calcium sources (after 3 paragraphs) in one sentence, right before milk which they warn against. The focus is on green leafy vegetables and beans. The women in the study didn't use suppliments at all though, so I don't know where you got that from.

        You seem to be mixing two points together when you say "According to their study, there is an increased risk of fracture with increased calcium intake, not just

        • I got the supplement portion from some of the other research the group did. I tend to mix together all the research one group does when I'm talking about one paper...sorry for the confusion.

          Take a look at the rest of their studies, there are a few. They pretty much just show that increasing Ca intake alone does not help prevent fractures.

          I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean by mixing two points...I was saying simply that the objective of the study was to assay for correlation between calcium intake

    • Ooh, another one!
      We're slowly taking over the world! ;)
  • by DrSkwid ( 118965 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @10:05AM (#6858426) Homepage Journal

    Believe me, you don't want bit's of your intestines removed every few years.

    Plenty of research is showing a link between Crohn's and milk consumption.

    http:/ /www.nomilk.com/crohns.shtml
    http://www.smh.com.a u/articles/2003/08/07/10601458 00356.html

    My signature isn't *just* propaganda

    • This is very interesting to me since my wife has Crohn's with frequent pain and has had 10 inches of intestine removed. There's quite a bit of recent news [google.com] including that British researchers suspect that MAH has entered the water supply [guardian.co.uk].
    • I'd be more inclined to believe what's in your sig if that site wasn't advocating alternatives that are even worse.

      Soy protein is horrible, I repeat, horrible for men. It increases estrogen levels like crazy, and reduces testosterone counts. Tofu suppresses testosterone levels even more effectively than a low-fat diet. (You know why all the guys that hang out in front of health food stores don't look healthy? It's because of low-fat diets. High-fat diets are completely healthy and increase testosteron

      • Someone not looking healthy and not being healthy can be two very different things. When the general population is becoming increasingly overweight, healthy thin people may look unhealthy to you.

        Soy phyto-estrogens are poorly understood, some think they are a weak estrogen and others think they actually block estrogen. It is obvious you are getting carried away with yourself when you say "Nice breasts, dude." Why you keep getting moderated up is a mystery to me.

        Next you say dairy products are good for "bulk

        • We obviously need to define healthy. I am a college student, with all of the irresponsibilities and naivete that come with it. My definition of "healthy" at the moment is "looks good naked." And I don't mean "movie star" good or "Calista Flockheart" good, I mean "pro-athlete" good (think Mark McGuire, Mohammed Ali, Lou Ferrigno). I'm not quite there, but gimme a few years.

          Getting carried away with myself? Hell, yeah. I do that a lot. Why do I keep getting modded up? *shrug* People like assholes?


          • My definition of healthy is basically a lack of sickness. Good energy after a reasonable amount of sleep. I think you hit the nail on the head by naming people you think are sexy. You think people with a lot of muscle are sexy, but the truth is everyone has a different idea of sexy. If the vegans you see don't have girlfriends as often as meat eaters, you may have a point :)

            My comment about bulking up was only meant to point out that what you are saying won't apply to a lot of the readers.

      • I've not drunk or eaten meat & dairy for 12 years.

        My only health issues is the crohns.

        I've had multiple blood tests and all that jazz, all normal.

        An, of course, you mention nothing about the lifestyle of cows.

        • of course, you mention nothing about the lifestyle of cows

          By popular demand, reasons cows have it better than me:

          1. I don't get my nipples tweaked every day
          2. When I die, I'll probably get buried or burned up. The noble cows lives his life knowing that when he dies, it is an honorable sacrifice so that I can eat steak, glue things together, and feed my dog.
          3. Cows are more famous than me. They get those hilarious, "It's the cheese!" spots. I've never even been on TV.
          4. I don't have cud. That would save me a
    • The majority of the research points not to milk itself, but to bacteria that contaminate the milk. So yeah, water is horrible for you, too...

      once it's been spiked with P. pestis.

  • by Otter ( 3800 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @10:06AM (#6858434) Journal
    Interesting thing here, besides the potential for milk, is the fact this was done via selctive breeding and genetic selection via embryonic implantation -- not adding the gene of a sea cucumber of something to modify it to produce as it does now.

    You do realize that's how current dairy cattle and every other agricultural plant and animal were generated, right? A lot of the people freaking out about "genetically modified" whatnot seem to think God created Holstein cattle and Vidalia onions in the garden of Eden.

  • by El ( 94934 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @10:29AM (#6858648)
    before they cross bovine and cocoa plant genes, and come up with a cow that gives chocalate milk...

    After over 2 years of doctors not being able to tell me why my daughter was congested all the time, I switched her to soy milk, and the problem immediately went away!

  • So this mollusk walks up to a sea cucumber. . .
  • by tokki ( 604363 ) on Wednesday September 03, 2003 @11:54AM (#6859468)
    Just think how marketing has imprinted in our brain that "milk is good for you". In fact, those claims would have to be described as "unsubstantiated".


    There're plenty more where that came from. Imagine drinking cat's milk, or rat's milk, or even horse milk. Why then, is it not disgusting to drink cow's milk? Marketing.

    With synthetic bovine hormones (illegal just about everywhere except the US), and rampant use of antibiotiocs, it's even more disgusting.
    • Holly: We could use some fresh odds & sods aboard, like cows milk.

      Lister: What milk are we using now?

      Holly: We're on the emergency backup supply. We're on the dog's milk.

      Lister: DOG'S MILK!! Hol, why didn't you tell me?

      Holly: What, and spoil your tea? Besides full of goodness, vitamins and marrow bone jelly. And on the plus side it tastes the same when it's gone off as when its fresh!
    • Why then, is it not disgusting to drink cow's milk? Marketing.

      I'd say tradition over marketing. In other countries, yak milk or camel milk is commonly consumed. How about goat milk?

      Probably the main reason we don't milk our own cats is that 1) the quantity obtained doesn't justify the effort and 2) sucking off Snowball and Fluffy just doesn't seem appropriate.

      With synthetic bovine hormones (illegal just about everywhere except the US), and rampant use of antibiotiocs, it's even more disgusting.

  • Consider... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Bridog ( 410044 )
    ... a spherical cow.
  • Does the super-volume produced also exhibit super-quality, or average quality or, I suspect, inferior quality milk?
    • I am curious what in your opinion would be high, average, low quality milk?

      • Assuming drinking cows' milk is good for humans, the attributes considered beneficial (protein, vitamins etc) could be measured in a representative set of regular cows taken from a national/world-wide population. You could do the same for attributes considered non-beneficial (some types of fat, antibiotics etc)

        It would then be interesting to compare these figures with those from a super-cow.

        I can turn regular Coca-Cola into double the volume by adding water. Doesn't give twice the bang for the buck, t
  • by Chacham ( 981 ) *
    The "mootrix" is a scene from Kung Pow.
    • I see you made it past my cow... you must be stronger than I thought.

      Fantastic mooovie.
      • by Chacham ( 981 ) *
        Acutally, I thought it was a stupid movie, with two or three cute scenes. The cow scene was great. The baby scene at the beginning (especially rolling down the hill) was cute. Overall, however, i thought it was stupid, but definitely a cute idea.

"If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed." -- Albert Einstein