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Genetic Considerations for Beef Cattle Production in Challenging Environments
Department of Animal and Food Sciences
If genetic variation for Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis, Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex and cattle ticks can be better quantified from Objective 1, this information could be utilized by beef producers to identify cattle genetic types that express resistance to these maladies with a subsequent increase in herd productivity being achieved at a lower cost.
2010 Project Description
Calves are evaluated for evidence of Infectious Bovine Keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) during the preweaning period at 11 locations [Kentucky, Arkansas (Fayetteville, Little Rock), Texas (McGregor, Uvalde), Louisiana (Baton Rouge, Homer, Iberia), Florida (Brooksville) and Mississippi (State College, Brown Loam)] using a subjective scoring system where 0=no evidence of IBK in either eye and 1=evidence of IBK in one or both eyes.
At the Kentucky Station, a cooperator-owned, spring-calving purebred Angus herd consisting of approximately 300 cows are utilized to assess impact of IBK on weaning performance of purebred calves. IBK data collection at the Kentucky station has been ongoing for three years (2008, 2009, 2010); 761 calves were evaluated at weaning and incidence of IBK was 25%.
Weaning weights of calves that experienced IBK were 14 kg less than for calves that experienced no IBK. Progress of this research effort was presented to a technical committee, members of which contributed to the IBK and other project objectives.
Calves that express evidence of IBK are heavily discounted when sold through traditional marketing channels at weaning. It is not uncommon for calves with severe IBK to be discounted as much as $15 to $25/45.5 kg. Further, it becomes difficult for producers of purebred cattle to sell yearling breeding stock that show evidence of eye scarring resulting from IBK during the preweaning period. Also, significant losses occur due to decreased weaning weights of calves that experience IBK during the preweaning period. The latter is especially true for commercial cow-calf producers.
By combining data from the respective locations, genetic aspects of IBK will be assessed. If it is determined that IBK is under genetic influence, then beef producers would be able to increase preweaning productivity by reducing incidence of IBK by selecting individuals that appear resistant to IBK.