Accurate assessment of a calf’s future performance may soon be possible by using microarrays.
By 2010, less than three years away,
Australia’s largest integrated beef research program, the Beef Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) anticipates cattle breeders may be able to get an accurate assessment of a bull or a dam’s future performance within a few months of its birth
Professor John Gibson, Beef CRC Adaptation and Cattle Welfare Research Leader, says microarray technology has enabled the entire 23,000-odd separate genes of the bovine genome to be printed on one microarray plate the size of a microscope slide.
“Research overseas indicates that how an animal expresses its genes in early life provides an accurate picture of its gene expression at breeding age.”
This leads to the prospect of microarrays being printed that carry genes of commercial interest, which could be then used to predict the breeding performance of young animals well before they reach breeding age.
Prof. Gibson observes that this would help breeders quickly eliminate genetically dud bulls and cows early in their life, without the costs of feeding and progeny testing now required to determine the duds.