The Livestock Sperm Bank

(Photo: Jelle)

A few years back, we did a podcast about the role of artificial insemination in the livestock industry. Writing for Modern Farmer, Jesse Hirsch reports on what would happen if, for example, foot-and-mouth disease came along and wiped out American’s entire population of cows, or pigs, or chickens:  

Breathe easy, livestock lovers. Housed in a vast storehouse in Fort Collins, Colorado, the USDA has 700,000 straws of liquid nitrogen-preserved sperm, from 18 different species. They’re ready.

“Let’s say another foot-and-mouth disease comes along, killing off our cows,” says Dr. Harvey Blackburn, repository coordinator. “We have the ability to repopulate entire breeds.”

The National Animal Germplasm Program (NAGP) started in 1999. Its facility stores a huge mishmash of semen — rare and vintage samples, combined with the most common breeds on the market. Blackburn says the everyday strains are just as important as the heirloom semen, if not more so.

(HT: The Dish)


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  1. Caleb B says:

    Ummm. Don’t you need eggs too? If it kills off all the female cows, aren’t we screwed?

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  2. bob says:

    Well, now I know where to go first when the bombs fall.

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  3. Tech_Watcher says:

    Okay, here’s my Ed Snowden moment….

    There actually was a program in the 1980’s called (____) run by an LA aerospace company (___) for preserving a whole bunch of worthy people underground to survive the nuclear holocaust. One female engineer I knew who worked on it suggested that only females be included in the population, plus semen in liquid nitrogen dewars, of course.

    Her suggestion was not appreciated. Severely unappreciated….

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  4. Anoymous says:

    Not a bio-tech scientist by I believe the option of storing semen instead of eggs has to do with the fact that semen has both X and Y chromosomes, thus allowing you to re-create both male and female specimens. The selected genetic material then can be inserted into eggs from another compatible species, which have previously been cleaned of their original genetic content.

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