Steaks High In Bulls' DNA

NEW ZEALAND - Pluck a hair from the tail of a cattle beast and you can find out not only its parentage, but also how its genes stack up for meat tenderness and how well it converts feed into meat. It's all in the DNA.
calendar icon 12 June 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
TALE IN THE TAIL: Enterprise Martin 1015 went to the New Zealand Beef Expo in Palmerston North to be sold to a Nelson buyer. A hair from his tail has given a DNA profile of his feed efficiency and meat tenderness.

Everything you want to know about an animal is hidden there and finally some of that knowledge can be tapped, so at Enterprise Cattle Company in Wakefield it's the next "must have" technology in the beef industry.

At the company's annual bull sale, catalogues featured the now familiar estimated breeding values that include details for calving ease, fertility, growth and even the scanning results of a rib eye or potential rump steak.

Next year though, farmers turning up at the sale can expect DNA results for meat tenderness - the biggest factor when it comes to consumer satisfaction - and marbling, which is the distribution of fat through the meat and sought after for tenderness. Plus, it will give a score for the animal's gene for feed efficiency to judge how well that animal - and its offspring - will convert food into weight gain. An animal that eats less than its peers but still puts on the same weight, gets a higher rating than those which need to eat more to achieve the same weight.

"The whole idea is making sheep and cattle production profitable," says a partner in the company, Craig Martin.


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