Scientists look to breed heat-resistant cows for a hotter planet
The bovine world's answer to Brangelina, the Brangus cow, is a desirable species bred through the 20th century that has proven resistant to heat and humidity. These traits have led scientists to study the Brangus, a mix of the Angus and Brahman cattle, as they look to engineer a new type of cow capable of withstanding a warming planet.
The Brangus was bred to draw on the best traits of both the Angus and Brahman cow. Taking the disease resistance, hardiness and maternal instincts of the Brahman and the high-grade carcass quality of the Angus has led to popular breed now found all over the US, Mexico, Australia and parts of South America and Africa.
But it is the Brangus' tolerance to heat that has scientists at the University of Florida (UF) interested. They have set out to develop an animal capable of thriving in hot living conditions and still producing top-quality beef, and have just received a three-year US$733,000 federal grant to pursue that aim.
"The grant allows us to track down DNA segments from the two breeds and figure out which regions of the cow's DNA are important to regulate body temperature," says Raluca Mateescu, an associate professor at UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Food security is a key concern as the planet continues to warm and the global population continues to grow. The team hopes to not only develop cattle that is more tolerant of heat, but can be produced more efficiently and is of higher meat quality.
"This offers a powerful new approach to address the challenges of climate change and develop climate-smart productive cattle for a future, hotter world," Mateescu said.
Source: University of Florida