Photo of TX 63 684 with TX 63 684 Second Edition copyright © 2001, Texas A&M University.
Other photos and text copyright © 2001, boergoats.com, except where noted.
I had an unprecedented honor today... I was invited to a press conference. OK... So that's not such a big deal - a lot of us get "invited" to press conferences - it wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last. The goal at a press conference is to eat the free donuts, drink the free coffee, listen to a dry speech about whatever they're announcing, and, hopefully, no one asks questions so you can get out of there fast with the printed press release they gave you (which allowed you to sleep instead of take notes).
The honor was not only in being invited to this particular press conference - The honor was in witnessing the public introduction of the subject/object of the conference. I drove 382 miles round trip to meet a goat! Yep, you're right - I've met a lot of goats over the years. But this goat was worth every mile. She puts a smile on everyone's face and she's a little bit different than your average goat. She's her mother's twin. Well... Technically her "mother" isn't her mother - her mother's mother is her mother. Sound confusing?
So, anyway... Meet TX 63 684 Second Edition!
"Megan" (her nickname) is the first cloned Boer goat! There exists a mountain of technical terms and a whole library of official information covering this subject and this individual goat. That information is very well condensed and translated into understandable terms in the official Texas A&M press release at the bottom of this article - but the information found there isn't what I'm interested in.
Her genetic twin, donor, and, by some folks' way of thinking, her dam, is Downen TX 63 684, a 1992 model Boer, one of the few direct import Boer goats in the United States. She was successfully exhibited on the show circuit for several years by her owners, Ewing and Donna Downen of Downen Livestock. She was chosen as a cell line donor because of her outstanding Boer phenotype and because of her production record.
Watching the interaction between Megan and her donor is somewhat disorienting to an experienced goat breeder. You know that these two animals have never had the opportunity to "bond" as a dam and her kid would - Megan was born to a recipient and raised to weaning by that same recipient in another county. And experience tells you that a mature doe doesn't take kindly to being in a small pen with someone else's kid. But in this case it's as if the donor and Megan are long time herd mates. They don't interact as close relatives but neither do they ignore each other.
Mr. Downen explained that Megan's gestation period and delivery were "normal" and that her weaning age development was somewhat advanced when compared to other kids of similar age. "Her herd mates of the same age were ten to fifteen pounds lighter than her the day she was brought home from A&M," said Mr. Downen.
According to Mr. Downen, Megan will be registerable as a full blood Boer goat in the American Boer Goat Association as she is a genetic "twin" to her donor. Her registration certificate will be almost identical to the original "684"'s - same sire, same dam, almost the same name, but with birth dates eight years apart.
The issue hasn't been brought up with the other registries but I would think that there should be no barriers to registration in them, either.
Unlike routine embryo transplant (ET) programs the clone embryos are deposited in recipients one day after activation. In ET, as we have practiced it, two embryos are planted per recipient seven days after fertilization and they are placed outside of the membrane. Clone work involves ten embryos per recipient and they are deposited right below the fallopian tubes.
My final question of Mr. Downen was "And where do you go from here? What's next on the Downens' plate?"
"We hope to collect tissue and bank cell lines from Labola, Dello, and Pipeline's dam & granddam," said Mr. Downen.
One experience at the press conference brought home the need for all of us to "promote the goat"... I introduced myself to the gathered media as the publisher of the meat goat trade magazine "boergoats.com". One of the first questions that I was asked was "Do people actually eat goat"? And this from a "livestock" reporter for a major Austin television station. It looks like we still have a lot of educating to do, folks!
Cloning technology is another tool in the effort to produce more and better agriculture products. In today's politically correct atmosphere of converting historically productive crop and range land to "wetlands", "parks" and "urban sprawl" we need all the tools we can muster if we expect to feed those who wish to reduce our croplands and grazing places.
copyright © 2001, Texas A&M University.
For Immediate Release
COLLEGE STATION - Researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University have recently cloned a litter of pigs, becoming the first academic institution in the world to have cloned three different animal species.
Texas A&M researchers have successfully cloned cattle, goats and most recently pigs and are aggressively working to clone dogs, cats, and horses.
The first of five litters of piglets were born on August 12. "From the first and second litters, nine piglets are healthy and growing quickly," said Dr. Jorge Piedrahita who holds a joint appointment with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Veterinary Medicine and is the lead investigator on the project.
The swine cloning project was a collaborative effort involving scientists from the Center for Animal Biotechnology and Genomics (CABG). The CABG, includes researchers from the College of Veterinary Medicine, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, The Texas Agriculture Experiment Station, The Health Sciences Center, and the George Bush School of Public Policy.
"Dr. Fuller Bazer, an internationally recognized expert in swine reproductive physiology, and his group provided essential expertise that facilitated successful completion of the swine cloning project," added Dr. Piedrahita. Dr. Bazer holds a joint appointment with the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Veterinary Medicine.
" Our research in cloning swine will help increase cloning efficiency and support the development of genetically modified cloned swine for use in medicine and agriculture," added Dr. Piedrahita. The five piglets from the first litter are named Porky, Daffy, Sylvester, Tweety and the runt of the litter is called "t-sipper."
On March 29, 2001 Second Edition (registered name Downen TX 63 684), a cloned Boer goat, was born. The donor was an 8-year-old Boer Champion doe and a top producer in Ewing and Donna Downen's breeding program of Early, Texas.
Second Edition, nicknamed Megan, is the result of a collaborative research project conducted by Drs. Mark Westhusin, Ling Liu and Taeyoung Shin from the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology, and Dr. Charles Long of Genetic Savings and Clone Inc. She has similar color markings to the donor and according to the Downens, is also quite similar in attitude and disposition. "Megan will play a major role in our Boer breeding program when she matures," said Ewing Downen.
In November 2000, researchers at the College of Veterinary Medicine successfully cloned what was believed to be the first animal specifically cloned for disease resistance. The 10-month-old Angus calf, named "86 Squared" was cloned using cells that were frozen for 15 years, representing the longest time ever that genetic material has been maintained by cryopreservation, thawed and then successfully used in cloning. 86 Squared, named for his exponential genetic potential, was born three years after the death of Bull 86, his genetic donor.
In 1999, scientists at the College of Veterinary Medicine became the first to clone successfully a calf from an adult steer, which was also the oldest animal ever cloned - a 21-year-old Brahman. University researchers accomplished the cloning of the steer, named "Chance," in a yearlong project. Chance's offspring, fittingly named "Second Chance," displays identical markings as his father and has identical DNA.
"The knowledge we gain from cloning these animals could greatly affect several areas of science and medicine," said H. Richard Adams, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. That is what makes the CABG's approach of developing multi disciplinary collaborative projects so powerful.
"With each successful cloned species, we learn more about cloning procedures and how to make cloning more effective. The potential benefits to the livestock industry and medical science could be immense," said Dr. James Womack, Director of the CABG.
The center's researchers have expertise in anatomy and cell biology, developmental biology, endocrinology, immunology, molecular and cellular biology, pathology, reproductive biology, molecular and quantitative genetics, physiology and pharmacology. The CABG provides a framework within which researchers can successfully integrate their expertise in interdisciplinary and multi disciplinary research efforts to benefit animal agriculture, veterinary medicine, and human medicine.
Established in 1916, the College of Veterinary Medicine is one of the world's largest veterinary colleges and is an international leader in animal health care and research.