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Cloned steer wins Iowa State Fair Beef crown

Des Moines Register Published on 09 September 2010
This year's 4-H grand champion steer at the Iowa State Fair looked a lot like the 2008 winner.

That's no surprise — it's a clone.

"Doc" is the first cloned animal to win a 4-H livestock blue ribbon at the fair.

 The steer is a clone of "Wade," who weighed 10 pounds less than Doc's 1,320 pounds when he won the 2008 4-H blue ribbon.

Both were shown by Tyler Faber of Sioux Center.

Faber, 17, is the son of David Faber, president of Trans Ova Genetics of Sioux Center, a leader in advanced livestock genetic reproductive techniques.
"The steer was cloned and shown at the fair to highlight cloning and what it can do," said the elder Faber.

The cloned animal was not illegal in the judging competition, said Mike Anderson, Iowa State University Extension specialist and 4-H livestock judging director.

"We didn't know at the time that Doc was a clone, but it's not against the rules," Anderson said.

Anderson and David Faber agreed that a clone is not a perfect copy. The environment in which two identical animals are raised can make a huge difference.
"There is a misconception that a clone is an automatic replica that can produce a champion, Faber said. "In reality, the animal still must be fed and cared for and shown skillfully in order to win," he said.

Anderson said rules against cloned steers in judging competitions would be difficult to enforce since it would require a check of every registration for every animal.
David Faber said Doc was registered as a clone, so his status was known at the time of the 4-H grand championship judging on Aug. 18.
Some critics in the livestock industry question the ethics of using a cloned steer in a judging championship, especially since cloning costs $15,000 to $20,000 per embryo.

But the breeders didn't want to complain publicly and put cloning, which they agree is a legitimate breeding technique, in a negative light.

The grand champion steer is typically auctioned off. But Faber purchased Doc. The animal will be slaughtered, he said, but the meat will not be sold commercially.
Anderson said he doubted that the 4-H judging rules would be changed to address cloning. But the issue might be discussed when 4-H officials meet with the State Fair Board in October. end_mark

-- Des Moines Register