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Current Projects: Dr. John Pollak

Industry Effort to Enhance Beef Cattle Selection

Research project: "Weight Trait Project"

In a united industry effort ranchers, breed associations, researchers, and a genomic company (Igenity) have joined forces to evolve the systems needed to effectively incorporate DNA information into beef cattle selection. The goal of the project is to create genetic evaluation systems for EPDs using both genomic markers and the traditional phenotypes/pedigrees to reduce risks associated with selection.

In this project researchers at the USDA Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) are developing DNA marker panels for birth, weaning and yearling weight based on the cattle breeds used in MARC Cycle VII (Angus, Charolais, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Red Angus and Simmental). Producers, chosen by their respective breed associations, along with herds from Kansas State University, North Dakota State University, South Dakota State University and University of Nebraska will submit DNA samples, and birth, weaning and yearling weights. Igenity will run the DNA markers for the project and these will be used to estimate Molecular Breeding Values (MBVs). The MBVs will be incorporated with the weight and pedigree information to compute Marker Assisted Expected Progeny Differences (MA-EPDs).

Seedstock breeders will gain experience in collecting DNA, working with DNA labs, comparing EPDs and MBVs, and seeing the combined results in their herd. Breed associations and Igenity will work with the researchers to:

  • create a data and information flow system for genomic results
  • refine the technology and mathematical models to develop MA-EPDs
  • Cparticipate in the information exchange and outreach

This project was made possible by a united industry front with funding from breed associations, Igenity, NBCEC, and in collaboration with the Comparing Selection Tools for Beef Productivity project (Alison Van Eenennaam). Participating families include: Bill Clark, Kirk Dickinson, Scott & Kim Ford & Nick Brandyberry, Joe Freund, Dennis Gustin, Dick & Bonnie Helms, Rodney & Kim Hofmann, Jeff Houck, Charles Hunt, David & Cindy Judd, Bruce & Neil Kappes, Alex & Mariam, Mih & Doug Pearish, Dave & Lillian Nichols, Neal Pearson, Arlen & Becky Sawyer, Butch Schuler, John Symens, Alan & Deb Vedvei, and Arnold Wienk.


Research Team

Dr. John Pollak, Project Director
Cornell University
Breeding and Genetics
Email: ude.llenroc@6pje

Dr. Mark Thalman
MARC - Breeding and Genetics

Dr. Matthew Spangler
University of Nebraska
Breeding and Genetics

Dr. Steve Kachman
University of Nebraska
Quantitative Genetics/Statistics

Dr. Kathy Hanford
University of Nebraska
Quantitative Genetics/Statistics

Dr. Makram Geha
Post-doctorial student
University of Nebraska
Quantitative Genetics