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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Range and Livestock Research

2010 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
1: Characterize rumen microbial populations, including cellulolytic microbes, and elucidate dynamics of these populations through the use of metagenomic approaches. 2: Determine rumen microbial and host genetic effects associated with differences in measures of efficiency of heifers developed under divergent planes of nutrition or different diets. 3: Determine phenotypic and genetic relationships of early-in-life measures of feed consumption, growth and body composition, with subsequent reproduction and lifetime productivity. 4: Determine if the level of nutrition in utero and prior to puberty results in epigenetic effects on traits associated with production efficiency at later stages in life. 5: Develop and validate appropriate phenotypes for measuring fertility in cattle in order to determine interactions between variation in cow feed efficiency and reproductive performance. 6: Identify and fine map quantitative trait loci (QTL) affecting feed intake, growth and reproduction.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Line 1 Hereford, an intercross (CGC) of Charolais (25%), Red Angus (50%) and Tarentaise (25%), and two predominantly Hereford-Angus crossbred herds are used. Line 1 Hereford cattle are ~30% inbred, with consequently reduced fitness, and have close ties to the bovine genome sequence. Two distinct nutritional environments will be imposed on the CGC population to challenge the nutrition-reproduction axis. One Hereford-Angus cowherd provides donor and recipient females for studies using embryo transfer. The other Hereford-Angus cowherd calves in two seasons and thus has differential synchrony between nutritional value of range forage and nutrient requirements of the cows. 1: Identify new species of rumen microbes through whole genome shotgun sequencing of rumen microbial milieu. Compare rumen bacterial species diversity responses to different diets. 2: Evaluate rumen microbial diversity and host animal gene expression in samples of animals expressing extreme differences in feed efficiency. 3: Estimate genetic and phenotypic variances and covariances of longevity, stayability, number of calves produced, and cumulative production of beef cows with early-in-life measures of growth rate, feed consumption, and indicators of body composition. Determine effects of phenotypes measured early-in-life on subsequent fertility of bulls. 4: Determine effects of feed intake prior to puberty and level of supplementation during mid to late gestation on genetic (co)variance and gene expression of the treated animals and their progeny. Determine effects of nutrient intake during gestation on phenotypes of treated animals and their progeny. 5: Determine factors controlling establishment and maintenance of pregnancy in cows induced to ovulate different sized follicles. Establish relationships between previous nutrition, time post-partum, resumption of estrus, and energetic efficiency in young postpartum beef cows. 6: Identify QTL affecting growth and reproduction in an advanced intercross of Red Angus, Charolais, and Tarentaise. Identify QTL with over-dominance effects on fitness. Identify genes expressed in tissues of cattle.

3. Progress Report
Reducing cost of production hinges on maintaining high rates of reproductive success while reducing the use of harvested feeds. Genetic selection to make cumulative progress toward this goal in the US beef industry requires selection criteria that simultaneously consider several traits. Traditional heifer development systems attempt to maximize pregnancy rates, but not necessarily optimize profit or sustainability. The fuel requirement to harvest feed and deliver it to cattle creates high energy demands in the traditional development system. Cereal grains, often used as a major energy source in heifer diets, detract from the system’s sustainability due to growing demand for human food and ethanol production. We have undertaken significant efforts to: develop procedures for cataloging species of prokaryotic, eukaryotic, viral and archaeal species in the rumen of cows fed forage and varying percentages of concentrates ; estimate parameters needed for including molecular breeding values in national cattle evaluation; develop new systems of national cattle evaluation for feed intake and sustained reproductive success; determine interaction level of feed input for females with that of their dams; develop evidence that nutritional influences on replacement heifers begins in utero and continue throughout life; and determine explanatory mechanisms for fertilization and early embryonic survival.

4. Accomplishments

Review Publications
Geary, T.W., Ansotegui, R.P., MacNeil, M.D., Roberts, A.J., Waterman, R.C. 2010. Effects of flunixin meglumine on pregnancy establishment in beef cattle. Journal of Animal Science. 88:943-949.

Atkins, J.A., Smith, M.F., Wells, K.J., Geary, T.W. 2010. Factors affecting pre-ovulatory follicle diameter and ovulation rate to GnRH in postpartum beef cows. Part I: Cycling cows. Journal of Animal Science. 88:2300-2310.

Marquez, G.C., Enns, R.M., Grosz, M.D., Alexander, L.J., MacNeil, M.D. 2009. Quantitative trait loci with effects on feed efficiency traits in Hereford x composite double backcross populations. Animal Genetics. 40:986-988.

Macneil, M.D., Nkrumah, J.D., Woodward, B.W., and Northcutt, S. 2010. Genetic evaluation of Angus cattle for carcass marbling using ultrasound and genomic indicators. Journal of Animal Science. 88:517-522.

Jiang, Z., Michal, J.J., Chen, J., Daniels, T.F., Kunej, T., Garcia, M.D., Gaskins, C.T., Busboom, J.R., Alexander, L.J., Wright, R.W., Macneil, M.D. 2009. Discovery of novel genetic networks associated with 19 economically important traits in beef cattle. International Journal of Biological Sciences. 5: 528-542.

Atkins, J.A., Smith, M.F., Wells, K.J., Geary, T.W. 2010. Factors affecting pre-ovulatory follicle diameter and ovulation rate following GnRH in postpartum beef cows. Part II: Anestrous cows. Journal of Animal Science. 88:2311-2320.

Chitko Mckown, C.G., Macneil, M.D. 2010. Development of Fibroblast Cell Lines From the Cow Used to Sequence the Bovine Genome. Animal Genetics. 41(4):445.

Liu, G., Hou, Y., Zhu, B., Cardone, M.F., Jiang, L., Cellamare, A., Mitra, A., Alexander, L.J., Coutinho, L.L., Gasbarre, L.C., Heaton, M.P., Li, R.W., Matukumalli, L.K., Nonneman, D.J., De A Regitano, L.C., Smith, T.P., Song, J., Sonstegard, T.S., Van Tassell, C.P., Eichler, E.E., Mcdaneld, T.G., Keele, J.W. 2010. Analysis of copy number variations among cattle breeds. Genome Research. 20:693-703.

Last Modified: 10/18/2017
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