November 26, 2019

Australia's CSIRO selling cattle breed semen samples for drought money


The independent agency is selling the samples from the 1980s to 1990s under an auction to raise money for farmers affected by the drought, reported the Australian Associated Press.


Dr. Sigrid Lehnert, livestock geneticist from The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) said it is not guaranteed that the old samples can produce a new generation of rare cattle breeds.


However, she added that the samples can be used as they have been stored in liquid nitrogen under the right conditions in CSIRO to last forever.


The samples were gathered by CSIRO as part of its cattle programme, which mixed African and British cattle breeds to produce a hybrid resistant to drought, ticks and heat.


The samples are no longer needed as scientists are able to study the genetic composition of cattle without the need to breed live specimens.


Dr. Lehnert said some hybrid breeds no longer exist because they may not have a suitable size or have the right coat colour, even though it was able to adapt to a tropical climate.


Close to 5,000 semen samples will be auctioned. Among them is Australia's first tropical composite breed, the Belmont Red.


All proceeds from the auction will be channelled towards the Drought Angels, Beyond Blue and the Queensland Country Women's Association.


-  Australian Associated Press