The finest cows, the genetically superior ones, are put on a different regimen. AbiGrace is the Browns’—and the breed’s—rock star in this category. She will be overstimulated for maximum egg production and inseminated with choice sperm. The resulting embryos, as many as a dozen, will be flushed and frozen. Donnell could sell those embryos for more than $1,000 a pop on the Internet if he chose, but usually they are inserted into surrogate cows—proven dams that don’t, let’s say, have the genetics to be worth breeding. AbiGrace can then be stimulated to make more embryos, and more still.
Without scientific assistance, a mature cow will produce one calf a year; with embryo transfer, AbiGrace can crank out 25.„
You have got to read this article, “Breeding the Perfect Bull,” in the April Smithsonian magazine. It’s absolutely nuts. These cows and bulls are “free-range,” as in, they don’t live on feedlots and eat corn-offal composites; they wander West Texas eating grass and looking chill. Until of course it’s time for them to be fattened for slaughter, when they are sent to feedlots and the cowboys who bred them don’t have to deal with what happens to them there.
But, you know, whatever helps you sleep at night!