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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #429495

Research Project: Genetic X Environmental Interactions Among Beef Cattle

Location: Plant and Animal Genetic Resources Preservation

Project Number: 3012-31000-006-10-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 29, 2015
End Date: Jul 31, 2020

To determine the magnitude of genetic X environmental interactions among selected beef cattle breed(s) and how such interactions may impact selection strategies for purebred beef cattle breeds.

Broad based beef industry concern has been expressed about the appropriateness of existing selection goals for forage based beef cattle systems when production environments differ substantially (e.g., cow size). This situation may become magnified under climate change conditions. Based upon the magnitude of genetic environmental interactions selection goals may need to be modified. Exploration of this issue can be addressed using data already collected by breed associations. Therefore, breed association data from one or two breeds will be acquired and used in the analysis; several breeds have already tentatively agreed to participate in the study. With breed association data several key performance characteristics will be evaluated in up to five ecoregions of the U.S. These ecoregions are: cool arid, cool humid, transition zone, warm arid and warm humid. Indicative performance traits for evaluation may include: weaning weight, cow longevity, cow mature size, and fertility. Additional factors in the analysis might include bulls used across ecoregions and comparisons of natural service and AI bulls. The results of this analysis will identify the magnitude of genetic-environmental interactions and lead to an evaluation of how breeding plans may need to change to improve performance within an ecoregion and under climate change scenarios.