Date of Graduation

5-2017

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science in Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Popp, Michael

Reader

Rosenkrans, Charles Jr.

Second Reader

Kemper, Nathan

Abstract

Genetic sequencing in beef cattle (L. Bos Taurus) is expected to aid producers select cattle with traits that enhance profitability. Using data from experimental trials conducted with Angus, Brahman, and their reciprocal cross, this project analyzes the profitability of grazing endophyte infected tall Fescue (L. Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) vs. Bermuda grass (L. Cynodon dactylon) pasture. The study is unique in the sense that actual cow-calf breeding failure rates (open cows were not culled) were tracked from 1991 to 1997 on herds that were bred to calf in spring and either exposed to fungal endophyte (L.Acremonium coenophialum Morgan-Jones and Gams) infected tall Fescue grazing and hay or not. Along with data on birth and weaning weights, the number of calves weaned over a cow’s useful life were used as major determinants of economic performance using the Forage and Cattle Analysis Planning (FORCAP) decision support software. Using this economic performance measure in conjunction with gene sequencing information allows the selection of beef cattle with profit-maximizing traits (low breeding failure rate) to provide producers with information on which replacement heifers and cows to retain in their breeding stock and herd sires to select. The study examined the single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) p450 C994G, to assess the genetic marker’s power to improve the economic performance of the herd. Results suggest that for reciprocal cross herds primarily grazing Bermuda grass pastures the CC expression of the gene is most favorable whereas the GG and GC gene sequences were more profitable with tall Fescue. Adding genetic marker information when selecting a production strategy led to approximately $15/hd in added profitability. At a prorated cost of $2.40/hd over the life of a dam it is therefore worth pursuing genetic information under the conditions observed in this study.

Keywords

cattle, breeding, genetics, economics

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