A $30 Billion Gene

November 3, 2016 in Daily Bulletin

Sarah Zhang wrote about the market for cow genes:

  • Farm Arlinda Chief was a bull born in 1962 with unusually good milk producing genes.
  • Of course, having a bull with good milk producing genes is basically worthless. Which is why he fathered 16,000 milk producing daughters.
  • Today he has 2 million great-granddaughters and 14% of all cows of his breed in the dairy industry carry his genes.
  • All in all, his milk producing genes are thought to have created $30 billion worth of additional milk production, compared to if an average bull had fathered the same daughters.
  • He is, in part, responsible for the quadrupling of the milk production of an average cow since the 1960s.
  • He’s not perfect. It turns out he had a genetic defect that led to a mutation which caused some to die in the womb. It is estimated that this defect has created $420 million worth of industry losses.

Read more at The Atlantic.