The Testes Test
You aren’t going to believe this one.
One of the many benefits of being a syndicated columnist is I get to read many of the fine publications that carry my column. The Livestock Weekly out of San Angelo, Texas is a good example.
One of the columns I read religiously in that great paper is “The Computer And The Cowboy” by C.A. Rodenberger, PhD. According to one of C.A.’s columns, “Scientists have developed a method to produce male pigs, goats and cattle that pass along desired genetic traits from a donor rather than their own genome in their offspring.”
This means scientists have figured out a way to use a scrub bull to breed cows because the bull is not passing along his traits, but those of the very best bull in the world. According to a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Scientists edited a fertility gene in the embryo of surrogate mice, then translated stem cells from a male donor into the surrogate’s testes” (OUCH!), “so offspring would carry only the donor’s genetic material, acting as surrogate fathers.”
We all know what this means, right? The worst bull imaginable, a light muscled, structurally incorrect mongrel of a crossbred bull, when mated to cows, could produce the very best calves in the world.
Someone could buy a Holstein x Corriente x Marchigiana bull out of the slaughter run at their local sale barn for $700, have this procedure performed on said bull and he would be passing along the genes of your choice of the finest multi-trait leading bull of any breed. I can’t even imagine the replacement heifer calves they’d get.
At this point, I can’t say what effect this procedure will have on purebred producers. When I first started writing for livestock publications 48 years ago, it was generally thought in a few short years every commercial cowman in the country was going to be using artificial insemination. Didn’t happen.
This “testes test” may turn out to be just an interesting study for researchers and go no further. But, it certainly raises some interesting possibilities.
A rancher could raise their own bulls, for example, by just keeping back the tail end of their calf crop and not castrating some bull calves. After the operation, one of the bulls could breed his mother or sisters and there’d be no danger of genetic deformities as a result of inbreeding.
If one of the bulls gets snuffy and tries to kill someone, just perform a little Winchester-otomy on him. What do you care? It’s not like you spent $10,000 on the bull.
Can you imagine the shock and awe after a feeder calf buyer has purchased some calves and hung them on the rail, was blown away by the carcass data and came to back to say, “I gotta see the bull battery. This must be the best set of range bulls in the world!”
The buyer wouldn’t believe his eyes after he was shown the herd sire battery which consists of a pipe-gutted 900 pound #2 Okie, a 15-year-old lame Mexican stag and a Holstein Jersey cross with less meat on it than a Beyond Beef Burger.
Think of the identity crises a mature anorexic dwarf bull that wouldn’t make a decent box lunch for a mountain lion would have as he stood atop a hill overlooking all the wonderful calves he sired. He’d probably say to himself, “ZOWEEEE! I did that?”
The article didn’t say how much the operation on bulls’ testes would cost or if it would have to be repeated every year. I am quite sure that if anyone asked their veterinarian today if they could perform the testes transformation on a bull’s testicles, they’d look at you like you belonged in the Loony Bin, the Funny Farm, the Mental Marriott or the Haha Hilton.
The more I think about this interesting idea, the more I hope it doesn’t catch on. It would probably destroy most purebred producers because only a few very top bulls would be needed, and without purebred producers most of the livestock publications that carry my column would go broke without advertisements for their bull sales.
On second thought, forget I ever brought up the subject.