Chip, or Chocolate Chip as he was known at birth, was the nation’s first cryopreserved Tennessee Myotonic goat embryo to be thawed and transferred into a common Nubian goat, or surrogate. Five months after the transfer, which used standard livestock breeding methods, Chip arrived on the scene as a healthy, 5-pound Tennessee Myotonic goat. Now over 6 years old, Chip is grazing on pasture at SVF Foundation’s farm for rare and endangered breeds of livestock in Newport, RI. Read more about Chip here (PDF).
A Myotonic, or fainting, goat is a domestic breed with a hereditary disorder called Myotonia Congenita, a condition that causes the animal’s muscles to freeze up when startled. Although harmless, the condition lasts ten to fifteen seconds and often causes the goat to collapse on its side. Often referred to as “Tennessee Fainting” or “Wooden Leg” goats, their genetics are important as they are good mothers, birth easily and are excellent meat producers.
Unlike organizations that are preserve only the semen of rare breeds, SVF’s germplasm collection contains the embryos, cells and blood of endangered breeds of livestock. With the collection of embryos, SVF is able to reawaken a breed with its full genetic diversity, within one generation, should it become extinct.
Chip is tangible proof that SVF’s efforts to bank the genetic diversity of rare and endangered breeds of livestock are successful. Although Chip was the first embryo transfer at SVF, the foundation now proves the viability of all their collections by thawing and transferring a frozen embryo to a common surrogate.