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BEEF EXPO 2010: Pfizer Launches Animal Genetics In UK And Europe

28 May 2010

UK - Pfizer Animal Health announced the opening of their Animal Genetics team at Beef Expo 2010. Charlotte Johnston, TheCattleSite junior editor reports.

The new team which is headed by Heather Bessoff White DVM, consists of a technical manager and geneticist, Dr Gary Evans, marketing communications manager Marcon Tigges, and area managers Mike Marron and Peter Quigley.

A relatively new science, genomics is the study of an organism's genetic information and, in a commercial context, the application of the resulting knowledge towards change for the better.

Ms Bessoff White said that the use of genetic markers in beef animals will influence decision making, improving productivity and profitability.

"Genomics can identify advantageous feed conversion efficiency, marbling and tenderness in beef cattle. Calves can be analysed at an early age to identify these traits, which will allow breeders to make the right decisions with regard to breeding and rearing," Mr Bessoff White said at the launch.

"That information is available very early on in a calf's life, to gather this information through the use of EBV's could take up to as much as two years.

"Genomics allows beef calves to be grouped according to their genetic strengths and weaknesses. Those with high tenderness and marbling into a production system geared to high value products (e.g. supermarket ‘premium’ ranges); and efficient feed convertors into systems designed to meet other needs."

Paul Westaway, a beef and sheep farmers in the Midlands, UK says that genomics has substantially increased the profitability of each carcase produced.

Mr Westaway uses the Pfizer Angus 50k system, which has 50,000 markers. This is currently only available for the Angus breed, however Pfizer are hopefull that it will be available to other breeds soon.

"I believe that genomics is the biggest step since AI," said Mr Westaway. "I produce beef which is bred from quality parentage, fed through an excellent system and finished to the correct specification, which in turn provides me with, on average, an extra 29 pence per kilo (on a 260kg carcase)."

Commenting on the EUROP grading system in place, Mr Westaway said that he felt this focuses on quantity, rather than quality as it predicts yields. Instead he said we should focus on what the consumer wants and work backwards, producing beef for the market.

Ms Bessoff White concluded saying that the opportunities for genomics were endless, as well as increasing the amount of genomic markers, there is the possibility of breeding animals resistance to disease, or that respond better to vaccines. "All if this is currently been researched by Pfizer."

Services currently available in the UK and Europe from Pfizer Animal Genetics include a parentage confirmation test for BCMS cattle passport applications; SireTRACE® parentage test; SureTrak® DNA-based traceability system; and GeneSTAR® DNA profile for identifying advantageous feed conversion efficiency, marbling and tenderness in beef cattle.

TheCattleSite News Desk



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