Farmers say it is being done because it is only possible to tell that the animal’s meat is of exceptionally high quality by inspecting its carcass.
US scientists are using a variety of techniques to assess which animals have exceptional qualities.
These attributes include meat quality, productivity or longevity.
These exceptional animals are cloned to be used as breeding stock, with the aim of raising the quality of herds on beef, dairy and pig farms in the US.
There is a long tradition of resurrecting dead animals for cloning – Dolly the sheep being a case in point.
The head of the leading US animal cloning company has said that European farmers will fall behind the rest of the world unless they are allowed to use such techniques to improve the productivity of their livestock.
The aim of livestock cloning is to clone the best animals to produce the best beef.
But some cattle farmers believe it is impossible to pick the best quality animals until their meat has been properly analysed.
That is why there are cloned bulls here that have been produced from the cells taken from the carcasses of dead animals.
Brady Hicks of the JR Simplot company in Idaho said his organisation was among many that had tried out the technique successfully.
“The animals are hanging on a rail ready to go to the meat counter,” he told BBC News.
“We identify carcasses that have certain carcass characteristics that we want, but it’s too late to reproduce the genetics of the animal. But through cloning we can resurrect that animal.”
It would cost them around $4,000 to buy a high quality bull to breed from. So for cloning to be worthwhile, the technology has to produce animals that are substantially better than the ones that can be obtained via traditional methods.
At the moment, the technique is at an experimental phase. Beef, pig and dairy farmers are all trying to establish whether cloning is an economic proposition.
Two years ago, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruled that meat and milk from cloned animals were safe to eat. Ever since then, products from the offspring of cloned animals have entered the food chain
Supporters of the technology say that costs will come down – and as farmers become better able to identify their exceptional animals, cloning technology will begin to pay big dividends.
Mark Walton believes that the use of cloning in agriculture will eventually become the norm – not just in the US but across the world.