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Current Projects: Dr. Milt Thomas

Improving Cattle Fertility through Molecular Markers

Research project: "Identification of Molecular Markers to Improve Fertility of Beef Cattle"

The quest for increased beef cattle fertility is making significant progress, thanks to a group of researchers from four major universities. The team has collected DNA and data from more than 800 Brangus heifers from Camp Cooley Ranch in Franklin, TX, in an effort to identify molecular markers and important chromosome regions needed to improve fertility. The team is using genotypes from the bovine SNP50 chip, which yields 54,000 genotypes per heifer.

The next step is to study these important chromosome regions and find markers that can be used in validation efforts. The team has built resource populations totaling more than 10,000 heifers. The heifers are from 19 seedstock operations, agricultural experiment stations, and commercial beef operations. The effort has led to collecting DNA and data from locations spanning the United States.

The results from this project could become a key factor in estimating better Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs), which would improve selection for higher reproductive rates in cattle. Due to the economic value of reproduction, this development could lead to increased returns to seedstock and commercial herds.

The study, which is funded by the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Competitive Grants Program, began in January 2008 and should be completed by December 2010.

Research Team

Dr. Milt Thomas, Project Director
New Mexico State University
Reproductive Physiology
Email: ude.usmn@amohtlim

Dr. Jim Reecy
Iowa State University
Molecular Genetics and Bioinformatics

Dr. Rohan Fernando
Iowa State University
Quantitative Genetics

Dr. Bob Weaber
University of Missouri
Breeding and Genetics

Dr. John Pollak
Cornell University
Breeding and Genetics

Sunday Peters
Ph.D. student, New Mexico State University
University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria
Molecular Biology