Attention researchers: A3GP call for research proposals

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry Department (AAF) have partnered with Genome Alberta to announce the launch of the Alberta Applied Agricultural Genomics Program (A3GP). This funding competition aims to support the advancement of genomics-enabled research to address challenges and opportunities important to Alberta’s agriculture and agri-food sectors. The A3GP will provide funding for genomics-based research projects up to $250,000 over a period of 2 years.

More information is available at: http://genomealberta.ca/funding/new-alberta-applied-agricultural-genomics-program.aspx

When seeking funding, researchers are encouraged to refer to the priorities and target research outcomes in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy. Continue reading

Genomics

Genomics studies the structure, function, evolution and mapping of DNA and genomes. It deals with the complete set of genes and genetic material found in a cell or organism.

Genomic technologies draw both producer interest and research investment in the beef industry. Seedstock selection is one common application, but genomics has found widespread adoption in forage and feed grain breeding, diagnostic tests, vaccine development, source attribution for food safety recalls and other uses.


cattle_hair_dna_sample_3
DNA is the genetic code that determines how an organism grows, what it looks like, and how it performs in a specific environment. Found in all living things, DNA gets passed from one generation to the next, allowing these organisms to maintain or improve their ability to survive and thrive.

DNA is a long chain, with each link of the chain containing a pair of four small molecules, known as base pairs. These molecules are abbreviated by the letters A, T, G, and C. This long chain is then coiled tightly into chomosomes. All cells in an organism contain a complete copy of that organism’s full genetic code.

Each cell has specialized machinery that reads the DNA code three letters at a time. These three-letter codes instruct the cellular machinery to start reading at a specific point. From that point, the base pairs code for specific amino acids, then finally a three-letter code instructs the cellular machinery to stop reading.

Click to continue reading about the use of genomic tests in beef cattle, including cautions… 

 

 

Continue reading

Bov-Innovation: Putting Theory into Practice

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.


bovinnovation
There is no shortage of beef industry conferences, workshops and meetings for Canadian beef producers to attend throughout the year. These have included the Canfax forum, the Canada Beef forum, Cattlemen’s Young Leaders forums, industry golf tournaments, tours, national, provincial and breed association meetings, the International Livestock Congress, and many more. Although they are valuable events, it is hard for producers to attend every event they might wish to. It can also be frustrating when similar speakers or themes get addressed at several different meetings, and busy producers take extra time away from their operations to hear the same presentations multiple times. The last thing anyone needs is to make time for yet another industry event.

Continue reading

Designer Genes

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted on the BCRC Blog with permission of the publisher.



The New Year brings some new requirements under Canada’s Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle. Effective January 1, 2016, Canadian beef producers are required to use pain control, in consultation with your veterinarian, to mitigate pain associated with dehorning calves after horn bud attachment (2-3 months of age) or when castrating bulls older than nine months of age. Most producers realize that the longer you wait, the more difficult and painful it gets, and the greater the setback in animal growth. More and more producers are using some form of pain control (especially NSAID drugs like meloxicam, flunixin, ketoprofen) even in younger calves. So the new Code requirements will primarily impact late-born calves, those that escaped early processing, and some seedstock bull calves that fail to measure up. See www.beefresearch.ca/pain for more information and our new video featuring ranch and feedlot managers explaining their stance on pain control.

Whether a beef animal is horned or polled is determined by a single gene, so the widespread use of polled genetics has greatly reduced the need to dehorn beef calves. Because polled is dominant to horned, it can take Continue reading

Selecting for improved feed efficiency and carcass quality: putting theory into practice


Click to open fact sheet
A number of genomic markers for feedlot feed efficiency and beef tenderness were identified through research that was conducted during the first Beef Science Cluster. However, the potential impact of selecting for improved feed efficiency on maternal traits, meaning how choosing breeding stock to produce feed efficient offspring would impact cows’ winter feed requirements and reproductive traits for example, is unknown. The ability to sort cattle into more uniform slaughter groups based on genomic carcass quality markers had also not yet been studied.

Research currently underway and funded by the National Check-off and Canada’s Beef Science Cluster is working to demonstrate the use and economic value of Continue reading

Next time you process cattle, pull tail hairs

DNA Sampling and Application in the Cow Herd

This is a guest post written by Sean McGrath, a rancher and consultant from Vermilion, AB.



DNA is the genetic code that determines how an animal grows, performs and interacts with its environment. Every animal inherits DNA from its parents with ½ coming from the maternal side and ½ from the sire. The building blocks of DNA are four base pairs: Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Guanine (G) and Cystosine (C). DNA is arranged in long ‘double strings’ in which A and T are paired and C and G are paired. A ‘gene’ is an area of this double string that codes for a specific function in the animal. By substituting one or more base pairs in the gene (i.e.: replacing an AT pair with a GC pair) a different function may be expressed in the animal (i.e.: red coat colour vs. black).

Technology to examine DNA in cattle has been around for several years, however in the past it has been cost prohibitive. Newer technology called SNP (pronounced “snip”) has changed much of this and made DNA testing a viable option for beef producers, even at commercial industry levels. SNP technology looks for Continue reading

Webinar May 1: Improving feed efficiency in seedstock through genomics

Updated: Missed the webinar? Find the recording and check for future webinars on the Webinars page: http://www.beefresearch.ca/resources/webinars.cfm

Feed efficiency is one of the most economically important traits in beef cattle production. For cow-calf producers, cows that maintain body condition easily have lower feed and pasture costs, rebreed sooner, and produce feeder offspring that could boost a producer’s reputation for supplying more efficient calves to feedlots. Improved feed efficiency in cattle also has environmental benefits through reduced manure and greenhouse gas production.

Register for this free webinar to hear from industry experts on why genomics, the study of DNA sequences, is receiving so much attention in the beef industry, how far our knowledge in this area has progressed, and how cow-calf producers today can use selection tools like residual feed intake (RFI) to gradually increase feed efficiency in their herds. You’ll also hear discussion on where livestock genomics research is expected to go from here. Continue reading

Genetic selection for beef quality: new video

In the latest episode of the Beef Research School series, Bruce Holmquist talks about the role genetics play in the quality of beef carcasses. He explains the value of genetically enhanced expected progeny differences (GE-EPDs), what to be cautious of when selecting seedstock for carcass quality traits, and how Canadian beef quality can be further enhanced in the future with feedback through the Beef InfoXchange System (BIXS) and ongoing genomics research. Continue reading

Molecular factors influencing maintenance energy requirements in mature beef cows



Feed costs represent a significant input cost in the cow-calf sector. The majority of the feed energy needed by the cow is used to meet the animal’s ‘maintenance requirements’. During pregnancy, cows may be able to reprioritize their energy use, which allows the cow to use less energy to maintain herself, and divert more towards the growing calf.

Better understanding maintenance requirements and energy metabolism in the mature cow may lead to the development of management and nutritional approaches that improve feed efficiency of cows.

Continue reading

Does cow nutrition during pregnancy affect gene expression in the calf?



Traditional wisdom holds that an animal’s genetics and the environment it lives in can both affect feed efficiency (and other traits). In contrast, an animal’s genes do not directly influence the environment, and the environment does not directly influence an individual’s genes. Genetic influences are passed on from parents to offspring, while environmental influences are not.

There is growing evidence that the situation is not that straightforward; in some cases the environment may have a direct impact on the expression of an individual’s genes. This environmental impact might also be inherited, and is called epigenetics. Continue reading