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Beef Cattle Climate Adaptability

How can genomics help?

by Mayzie Purviance, Angus Media intern

It is predicted that by 2100, the average temperature in the United States will be raised by 2º-6º C (3.6°-10.8° F), and the number of days with a temperature above 32º C (90° F) is expected to increase, shared Raluca Mateescu, a quantitative geneticist for the University of Florida. In other words, our cattle are going to undergo an increase in heat stress.

During a June 1 breakout session on advancements in efficiency and adaptability at the 2017 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Research Symposium and Convention in Athens, Ga., Mateescu shared insights on how genomics might assist beef cattle in adapting to climate.

When an animal experiences heat stress, its ambient temperature is raised and productive functions are compromised. These negative effects can contribute to issues in production through feed intake and redistribution of blood flow, and elevated body temperature, which can affect specific organ systems.

If the chances of being affected by heat stress within the next 85 years are going to increase, how will our livestock cope? Mateescu offered an answer: “Genetic improvement is one of the few feasible strategies for adequate and sustainable production of beef protein in an increasingly hot world.”

Mateescu has conducted extensive research to back up her statement. She spoke of the mechanisms of heat stress adaptation such as thermoregulation. She also stated that in order to tolerate heat stress, we will have to regulate internal heat production and heat exchange.

Mateescu proposed crossbreeding Brahman and Angus genetics in order to increase thermotolerance. The figures shown in the accompanying PowerPoint show the results of Mateescu’s research. The figures indicate that although the Brangus herd did not have a heat tolerance as low as the Brahman, it had a significantly better heat tolerance than the purebred Angus.  

Editor’s Note: This summary was written under contract or by staff of Angus Media. Through an agreement with the Beef Improvement Federation, we are encouraging reprinting of the articles to those who will adhere to the reprint guidelines available on this site. Please review those guidelines or contact Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, at 816-383-5270. PowerPoints are posted with permission of the presenter and may not be reproduced in whole or in part without the express permission of the presenter.

Angus Media’s coverage of the event is made possible through collaboration with BIF. For questions about this site, or to notify us of broken links, click here. Look for additional coverage in the Angus Journal, the Angus Beef Bulletin, the Angus Journal Daily, the Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA and Angus TV.


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