Texas A&M University, Colorado State University, University of California Davis, Washington State University, University of Missouri & New Mexico State University Searching for Solutions

The leading natural cause of death in beef and dairy cattle is Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD), a combination of viral and bacterial infections. The disease causes losses of more than a million animals and $692 million annually to dairy and beef farmers.

To tackle the disease, USDA funded a multi-institutional research program to search for a proven genetic link that helps identify and predict resistance to the disease. The team included Texas A&M University, Colorado State University, University of California - Davis, Washington State University, University of Missouri, New Mexico State University, and others.

Scientists took samples from several thousand healthy and sick calves and then tested the DNA to find variations between the animals. Finding and tying genetic markers to the actual gene that is causing the variation helps breeders to incorporate the information into the estimated breeding value of cattle.

The process is beginning to yield results with dairy cattle, which tend to have more genetic uniformity. It is more complicated for beef cattle, since there is a wider range of breeds and crossbreeds. Researchers are sequencing the entire genome of 60 beef animals to identify the genetic link to the BRD causal mutation.

By identifying resistant animals through their genetic profile, breeders can reduce the prevalence of the disease and death in cattle, reduce antibiotic use, and improve ranchers’ bottom lines.

Retaking The Field Volume 5 “Retaking the Field Volume 5: Innovation to Profit” explores how federally funded agricultural research strengthens farmers and ranchers’ bottomline by reducing costs and risks, increasing profits, and laying the groundwork for new products and industries. With powerful examples from universities across the country, it describes how research can generate outsized economic benefits that extends for decades. View The Issue
Retaking the Field Volume 5: Innovation to Profit Click to download report

More Stories from: Retaking The Field Volume 5

Protecting People and Poultry

Salmonellosis is a disease passed from chickens infected with Salmonella bacteria to humans through their contaminated meat and eggs. It causes nearly 94 million infections with 155,000...

Read More
Raising Resilient Pigs

Through cutting-edge genome editing, scientists are working to help the swine (pig) industry produce healthier, more resilient animals. Genome editors are enzymes that allow scientists to...

Read More
Winning With Wheat

Funded by USDA, the International Wheat Yield Partnership Coordinated Agricultural Project (CAP) and its predecessor Triticeae CAP (T-CAP) focused on improving wheat and barley for...

Read More