USDA is storing Holstein germplasm as ‘insurance’

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WASHINGTON – The USDA has acquired sufficient semen and embryos to reintroduce Holstein dairy cattle in the United States.

This genetic “insurance,” available to protect the country’s primary dairy cattle breed, is one example of how the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service is preserving valuable genetic material for plants and animals.

Examples from 1960s. Animal scientist Harvey Blackburn, at the National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation in Fort Collins, Colo., led a group of researchers in acquiring Holstein germplasm from as far back as the 1960s.

The collection contains preserved semen from approximately 470 bulls and embryos from 25 cows.

‘New’ genetics. The germplasm can also be used for genetic marker experiments and to minimize potential genetic problems.

The germplasm came from ABS Global, Select Sires, Accelerated Genetics, the University of Minnesota, Virginia Tech University and Iowa State University.

Blackburn is acquiring more species for the germplasm collection, as well as increasing the number of breeds representing species already in the collection.

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