Food: Farming: Livestock
Cloned Livestock - Slaughtering Efficiency   (+4, -10)  [vote for, against]
Clones are same size, easy to dissect

As soon as cloning becomes cheap and reliable, we should clone all livestock. Pick 3 or 4 very genetically different individuals in the cow population, for instance, and clone those 4 in equal proportions to fill out every herd.

Then, when it comes time to slaughter, or milk, or whatever, they are all exactly the same size and proportions, so it becomes much much easier to entirely automate butchering, etc., which is currently somewhat labor intensive.

The few different strains (could be a few per country, even) protect against catastrophic extinction disease. When slaughtering, they just divide up the herd by genetic type, and then set the machines to that type, until you get to the next one, and reset the machines, etc.
-- Smurfsahoy, Mar 26 2007

Robotic milking
Watchout for the blinking text it will drive you insane!!!!!! [jhomrighaus, Mar 26 2007]

A picture of a cow up close for all interested
second from the bottom [methinksnot, Mar 26 2007]

Subject of Tuesday's "Daily Show" segment: Cloning of cows, pigs, and horses. "Consistency" is one of the benefits. [jutta, Mar 28 2007]

//they are all exactly the same size and proportions// - no they're not: size and proportions will depend on how much the cow has been fed, how much it actually ate, its history of illness, its position in the cow 'pecking order' (if such a thing exists), etc.
-- hippo, Mar 26 2007

-- zeno, Mar 26 2007

Cow pecking order: issued by the Chief Cattle Egret.
-- calum, Mar 26 2007

You're thinking too small. You need to clone a cow that dies of a heart attack at a certain age.

Then, since all clones are exactly the same, you just lead the clones into the slaughterhouse at that exact time, and nature takes its course.
-- GutPunchLullabies, Mar 26 2007

Most of the major livestock breeds are about as near clonal as it's worth being. The residual genetic variation is swamped by environmental variation.

Much more efficient to clone the slaughtermen.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Mar 26 2007

How much can environment possibly vary when they are all packed into corrals and fed at the exact same times out of the same troughs, etc. etc.? If identical human twins raised by different families can both end up with the same hairstyles and favorite foods, and wife's first names, then identical twin cows that are even fed at the same times have no reason to be different.

Disease is a valid point, but since they all have about the sam immune systems, etc., they would probably even get sick at about the same times too, actually. Especially in such close proximity *shrug*

As an example, in humans, height has a heritability factor of about 0.85, which means that 85% of the variability in height in the given population (I think this is America actually, not all humanity, but whatever) is due to genes.

Assuming it's about the same for cows, that only leaves 15% room to wiggle out. And that 15% is based on almost identical environments, not opposite environments. So at most, you'll be looking at a standard deviation of an inch or two on these cows.
-- Smurfsahoy, Mar 26 2007

You are operating under the assumption that slaughtering of animals is somehow inefficient which I believe is a flawed premise. The ineffiencies come more from the fact that cow a fell to the left and cow b fell to the right, the exact size of the animal has much less to do with automation than the fact that even 2 cloned animals of the exact same dimensions will have variations on where different parts of their anatomy are located. you would never be able to determine that muscle A begins at 72.8 mm from tip of nose and extends to Y etc.

Also I have to wonder if you have actually ever seen cows up close, because in general they are all about the same size when you have a herd of milk cows etc. I also believe that automated milking parlors are already used in many places.
-- jhomrighaus, Mar 26 2007

Yes, I live and travel a lot all in the midwest. Plenty of cows seen. They look the same to us, because they're cows. It's the same thing with most Americans not being able to tell asian people apart very easily, etc. You aren't used to comparing cow features, but they're actually just as different from cow to cow as people are, except maybe for general weight, since they all have the same diets, unlike people. But there have been studies to show that livestock are just as good at telling one another apart as we are at telling ourselves apart.

And yeah I put milking in as an afterthought, because it's already pretty easily automated. A human has to attach the tubes, but from there on out, it's machines and cows.

Anyway, you CAN figure out where muscle A extends from, etc. Not to the tenth of a millimeter, obviously, but given the average proportions of that strain of cow, the computer could probably get it within one or half of a centimeter by first measuring the height, weight, and one or two other basic dimensions of that particular cow and extrapolating the other dimensions, which should be in very tight control due to genetic identity and near environmental identity.
-- Smurfsahoy, Mar 26 2007

They currently use machines with flexible blades that strip the meat off the bone quickly and efficiently regardless of musculoskeletal variation. In short, this is a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

FYI a human does not have to attach the tube - there are fully automated milking systems out there.
-- Texticle, Mar 26 2007

//You're thinking too small. You need to clone a cow that dies of a heart attack at a certain age.//

You are thinking too small. In The Restaurant at the End of the Universe they had cows that would be your waiter and then go and kill themselves.

If you want consistant genetics it is sufficient to breed two purebreed parents. At most you would have to clone the breeding herd.

PSF here in Northern Missouri has hogs they raise without antibiotics or disease for that matter in hog confinement opperations. They pretty much ship them to the slaughterhouse when they hit the market weight of 250 lb. Weight issues are a concern that people express when they are to be slaughtered. I have seen two distinct varieties of Hogs slaughtered and I have heard no complaints about body type issues. There are some stubby legged ones with bulging hams that look strange and there are lankier ones. The issue that does concern people besides weight is hair color. For some reason Black hairs don't come out as easy as white hairs. This involves more work.

The issue that seems to cause problems is disease, mainly Abcess. When a saw cuts into a pig and gets a green ooze, that gums up the works as the line is stopped and equiptment is cleaned and the carcass is diverted from the main line to be processed in a intensive manner one on one manner. One of the leading causes in this rare phenomina is Antibiotic injections.

I think everything that can be cost effectivly done is being done. They even have tracking methods to track back from at least half way through the processing on back to where the Hog came from. I think your idea is on the right track in that consistancy is one of the major reasons for the vertically integrated hog market. I expect it to soon follow the way of the chicken market as grower and processor become one.
-- MercuryNotMars, Mar 28 2007

"You're thinking too small. You need to clone a cow that dies of a heart attack at a certain age."

You'll have to act quickly to clone a dead cow.

Actually, if you want to make meat production more efficient, try grafting some beef genes into something like soybeans. If beefsteak/soy can be harvested like other legumes you'll solve a host of livestock related problems.
-- whlanteigne, Mar 28 2007

Why don't you try posting that idea. Soy + "beef genes"=beefsteaksoy

That will REALLY fly off the 1/2bakery shelves...
-- GutPunchLullabies, Mar 29 2007

Consistancy is fine short-term - but all it would take would be one strain of disease - and you've instantly wiped out 1/4 of all the cows in existence. For such a disease to develop would also be enabled by having lots of bodies of the same genetic make-up - so not only will disaster strike should such a disease develop, but you're also actively promoting the conditions for such a disease to develop. No, give me a bit of diversity please. It works in nature for a reason.
-- zen_tom, Mar 29 2007

What [tom] said. [-]
-- theleopard, Mar 29 2007

Ahem...I'm no cow expert, but I did grow up ranching cattle for the beef industry.

Between breeds there can be a huge variance in size, confirmation, etc. A short, squat Angus is a completely different animal from a tall, rangy Beefmaster. Try to automate a machine to butcher those two back and back and you're gonna have a lot of waste. Even within breeds there's a lot of variance depending on the lineage of the animal. In fact, when stockers are auctioned an exceptionally large animal can often lose value simply because it won't fit the equipment; some breeds are particularly unsuitable.

Just like the hogs, though, they're usually slaughtered at about the same weight, and while they're still young. Soooo, the uneven confirmations is kind of smoothed out by doing so.

Cattlemen today have done a pretty good job of genetic engineering already. The cloning idea might just make the whole thing more efficient. Or, be a huge waste of economic resources.
-- Noexit, Mar 29 2007

random, halfbakery