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Current Projects: Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam

Researchers Explore Options in Utilizing DNA Integration in Beef Cattle

Research project: "Integrating DNA Information into Beef Cattle Production Systems"

Significant strides are being made in identifying DNA markers associated with desired traits. These tools are being utilized as both selection and management tools in beef cattle operations, but there is still uncertainty of their return on investment. As a result, this project was developed to evaluate genetic improvement and economic feasibility of different selection tools on commercial beef ranches.

The advent of relatively inexpensive DNA marker panels has opened the way for genetic evaluations through whole-genome selection and also the development of on-farm genetic evaluations for herd bulls in multi-sire breeding pastures. The overall objective of this project is to compare the current means of genetic prediction, breed-based Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs), with whole-genome scan genetic predictions (molecular breeding values, MBVs) and in-herd genetic evaluations (rEPDs).


Outreach objectives of this four-year project include:

  • Determine whether it is feasible and economical for beef producers to implement the approaches
  • Use project findings to generate educational outreach materials for beef producers

Thanks to the following beef producers for their cooperation in this study:

  • Jack Cowley, Cowley Ranch, Montague, CA
  • Dale, Greg and Richard Kuck, Kuck Ranch, Montague, CA
  • Matt Parker, Mole-Richardson Ranch, Weed, CA

The study, which was funded by the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative’s Competitive Grants Program, began in January 2009 and should be completed by December 2012.


Research Team

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, Project Director
University of California, Davis
Animal Biotechnology and Genomics
Email: ude.sivadcu@maanneneenavla

Dr. Daniel Drake
University of California
Farm Advisor

Kristina Weber
University of California, Davis
Ph.D. Student, Molecular Genetics

Dr. Darrh Bullock
University of Kentucky
Beef Cattle Genetics

Dr. Dorian Garrick
Iowa State University
Quantitative Genetics

Dr. Leslie ‘Bees’ Butler
University of California, Davis
Extension Marketing Specialist

Dr. John Pollak
Cornell University
Breeding and Genetics