Fri, Jun 22, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Frozen embryo breakthrough will help deer farmers

PRODUCTION BOOST Taiwan needs around 80 tonnes of deer antler velvet a year, although it can only produce between 20 tonnes and 25 tonnes

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

The Council of Agriculture said on Wednesday that the birth of the first Formosan sambar deer developed from a frozen embryo will help boost local deer farmers and increase the production of deer antler velvet, an important ingredient in Chinese medicines.

The council reported that the deer was born on April 16 and now weighs 10kg.

Kang Hsien-jen (康獻仁), an assistant researcher at the Livestock Research Institute's Kaohsiung Animal Propagation Station, said that researchers collected the embryo on Nov. 24, 2005, seven days after it was inseminated, froze it and later implanted it into the uterus of a surrogate mother on Aug. 9 last year. The calf was born 257 days later.

Kang said the station staff were elated, hailing it as another breakthrough in breeding technology after the first deer was born through artificial insemination on July 28, 2005.

He said that frozen embryo technology would help breed deer that can yield higher quantities of antler velvet.

Taiwan has around 21,000 deer, with the Formosan sambar deer accounting for around 85 percent of the total.

Noting that the velvet fetches prices ranging from NT$1,000 to NT$1,200 per tael (38g) in Taiwan, Kang said the development of the breeding technology would be profitable.

Kang said the deer antler velvet each buck can produce varies dramatically, ranging from 20 taels to 326 taels per year.

"The number of male deer that have a high velvet yield is small," Kang said, adding that a good stud can sell for as much as NT$1 million (US$30,000).

Kang said that Taiwan needs around 80 tonnes of deer antler velvet a year, although it can only produce between 20 tonnes and 25 tonnes. Taiwan imports around 5 tonnes from New Zealand and relies on "parallel imports" for its remaining needs.

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