UF/IFAS researcher Raluca Mateescu studying the genetics of beef cattle to develop one for the heat and humidity of Florida.
There’s no denying that Florida’s climate is one of the hottest in the country, but with the rise of global warming and climate change, many states are forecast to have hotter and hotter weather. That makes Florida and Florida beef the perfect testing grounds for the work of UF/IFAS Associate Professor of Quantitative Genetics and Genomics with the Department of Animal Sciences, Raluca Mateescu, according to a CFAN article, as she looks at the genetics of beef cattle to help create one that will thrive in high temperatures.
Research into the Genetics of Beef Cattle
Mateescu’s research looks to identify those genes that affect a cow’s ability to thrive in the heat. “The main goal of my research program is identifying the genetic mechanisms responsible for superior thermal tolerance in indicine influenced cattle,” she said in the article. The point is to help in developing “effective genomic selection and management tools the industry can use to mitigate the effects of heat stress on production efficiency and reproductive function critical for enhancing productivity of the US livestock industry and securing global food supplies,” she explained.
Mateescu deals mainly with cattle like Brahmans, which have been identified as having good thermotolerance. Thermotolerance, or the ability to withstand heat or cold, “is a difficult trait to measure,” Mateescu explained in the article, and “therefore difficult to improve through classical selection.” She added that her current “research right now aims at discovering the genetic variants controlling thermotolerance.” On the other hand, she’s working with both Angus and Brangus herds to find those DNA traits that producers want, like meat with good marbling.
Mateescu said the research is “at the beginning of the process,” but she shared something that cattle producers can use now. “Our research shows that coat properties are related to the ability to maintain a lower body temperature under hot and humid conditions.” She advised producers to “evaluate their cattle based on coat score (we use a 1-5 score system, and most of our animals are either 1 or 2, with a few having a coat score of 3) and select against animals with large coat scores.”
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