New Markers for UK DNA Panel

UK - Breeding polled cattle just got easier – thanks to the addition of new markers into the DNA panel of the UK’s leading genetic profiling tool.
calendar icon 9 March 2009
clock icon 2 minute read

The expanded IGENITY® profile now includes breed-specific horned/polled DNA analyses for Charolais, Gelbvieh, Hereford, Limousin, Simmental and Shorthorn breeds, as well as any of those breeds crossed with Angus.

This means that breeders can use this ‘inside information’ to remove the guesswork involved when selecting cattle for polling. Breeders can know, for certain, the polling/horning status of their cattle and select accordingly, using the information contained in the genetic profile produced by the IGENITY tool.

Markers for other breeds are being validated and will be available through the IGENITY profiling service soon.

The trait of being polled or having horns is believed to be determined by one pair of genes. One gene in the pair is inherited from the dam and the other from the sire. The polled gene (P) is dominant to the horned gene (H). If an animal has two polled genes (PP or homozygous polled), or one polled and one horned gene (HP or heterozygous), it will be polled.

However, if it is heterozygous polled it may pass either the polled or horned gene on to its offspring. The only situation when an animal will be horned is when it possesses two recessive horned genes (HH or homozygous horned).

The presence of horns in commercial cattle is known to cause performance losses and damage to carcasses, according to Global Director of Technical Services for IGENITY, Dr. Jim Gibb. “But now producers can make selection decisions by using another piece of important information.”

He says that the genetic marker is certainly proving very popular in the US, as well as in Australia and New Zealand. “Breeding polled cattle eliminates the cost and hassle of de-horning – it reduces the amount of stress on the animals – and staff. And the UK’s animal welfare regulations are also expected to be tighter in the future concerning de-horning and may stipulate that the procedure has to be carried out by a vet – making it more expensive than it is at the moment.

“Handling cattle when de-horning, particularly older and therefore larger animals, is not without its safety risks either,” he adds. So breeding polled cattle could be a more economically attractive option for many producers and will certainly save on labour, handling and hassle.

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