DNA test predicts beef quality prior to processing

US - Using a modestly priced DNA test, cattle producers can now tell prior to processing whether a cow is predisposed to the marbling and tenderness traits marking choicer cuts of meat.
calendar icon 2 February 2007
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Beltsville-based Metamorphix Inc., this week took the wraps off its “Tru-Marbling” and “Tru-Tenderness” products. At a cost of about $20 per cow, the test looks at 189 DNA markers to determine if the animal is genetically predisposed to produce a higher grade of beef.

Executive Vice President and CFO Thomas Russo said the goal is to provide a way to tell early in a cow’s life how it should be managed. Cattle with higher potential could be priced higher and given more expensive feed grain.

“It’s amazing how much is still guesswork,” he said. “That’s what this technology addresses.”

Normally, Russo said, it’s after a cow has been processed that it is graded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as either prime, choice or select depending on quality. Using the test, cattle producers can focus on animals likely to yield higher-grade beef, which brings a higher market price.

“We can tell if the animal will produce progeny that has those characteristics,” Russo said.

Metamorphix is rolling out the cattle testing in a partnership with agriculture giant Cargill. Under the deal, the company receives a portion of the savings Cargill will see by being able to control costs by better managing its cattle.

The cattle testing actually sparked the idea for another of the company’s newest products — Canine Heritage. Also unveiled this week, the test is aimed at owners of mixed-breed dogs who want to know what breeds make up their pet, either out of curiosity or to see if they might be prone to genetic diseases such as hip dysplasia.

Source: The Daily Record
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