11/04/2005: HOLY COW...
...a Who-Done-It of Bullish Proportions:
"In his nearly 16 years in the Frederick County Sheriff's Office, Detective Chuck Jenkins has seen a lot: old-fashioned cattle rustling, grand theft tractor and thousands of more-pedestrian crimes. But he's never seen anything quite like his most recent whodunit: the case of the stolen bull semen.
The burglary took place Sunday in Smithsburg while Eric Fleming was away from his farm, Stonewood Acres. When he got home that night from a visit to relatives in Pennsylvania, he found that the 70-pound semen tank he had in an outbuilding was open, with the electrical cord pulled out of the liquid nitrogen refrigerator, Jenkins said. Sixty-five "straws," containing the precious bodily fluids of 40 to 50 bulls, were missing.
Jenkins said they were worth $75,000.
......Frozen bull semen is big business because it saves on the transportation cost of putting a bull and a cow into the same pen to breed. Frozen semen can also last for many years, outliving the bull who produced it.
Nonetheless, collecting and keeping the semen can be a challenge. Bulls, for all their reputation for virility, are notoriously finicky about breeding. Their sperm counts are generally low; moreover, it is difficult to collect samples from a bull.
Semen is put in a 4 1/2 - to 5-inch long straw and labeled with the name of its sire.
From there, it is frozen, to be injected later into a cow, known as a dam. Breeders keep careful track of everything: A registered animal will have a well-documented pedigree going back generations that attests to its genetic fitness. A lack of documentation could help authorities catch the culprit, Jenkins said -- an honest buyer would know that the semen had been stolen.
Jenkins said the thief, if he intended to sell the semen, would have to have a portable freezer of his own. Because of the specialized knowledge and equipment required to keep and sell the straws, Jenkins said, the number of potential suspects is limited, but the culprit could have come from a distant state. For that reason, both Jenkins and Fleming have publicized the crime in the hope that someone will provide a tip..."
-- $75,000 in Bull Semen is Stolen from Frederick Farm
Yikes. Here's hoping Mr. Fleming gets his wish "To Catch a [Sperm] Thief."
Karen on 11.04.05 @ 06:25 AM CST