China's first cow cloned from frozen somatic cells two years ago gave birth to a healthy cow calf Wednesday in east China's Shandong Province, a local zoologist confirmed on Thursday.
The calf, born at 9:06 a.m., weighed 45.5 kg and was 80 cm long at birth, said Zhang Qingyun, managing director of Kelong Animal Husbandry Industrial Co., Ltd. based in Liangshan County.
An hour after birth, the calf stood up, measuring 90 cm tall, and drank up one kg of her mother's foremilk.
The calf's mother, Wei Wa, became pregnant on March 20, 2004, through artificial insemination and has remained healthy all during her pregnancy, according to Zhang.
Wei Wa was born on the same farm on Oct. 16, 2002. Her birth caught the attention of worldwide zoologists because she was China's first cattle ever to be cloned from frozen somatic cells of an adult cow.
She was cloned from frozen epidermal cells extracted from the ears of a most productive dairy cow on the farm, under a high-tech program between the Shandong company and China Agricultural University in Beijing.
The Shandong company has cloned 26 more cattle with the same technology over the past two years and three of Wei Wa's "younger sisters" are between six and eight months pregnant. Company sources say they expect more calves to be born after February 2005.
Liangshan County of Shandong Province is home to a major gene modification research center under China's High and New Technology Research and Development Program (Program 863).