November 15, 2011


 Genetic markers could help avoid cattle disease

Posted Oct. 26, 2011

Cattle owners may eventually use a genetic marker to breed cattle resistant to bovine respiratory disease, pinkeye, and foot rot.

Findings from the Agricultural Research Service of the Department of Agriculture indicate a genetic marker found on bovine chromosome 20 is connected with resistance to those diseases, according to an article in the September 2011 issue of Agricultural Research. The article indicates more research is needed, however, to confirm the connection.

The article states that bovine respiratory disease, or pneumonia, causes about 75 percent of cattle feedlot deaths and about 70 percent of all cattle deaths, costing cattle owners more than $1 billion annually in losses through deaths and illnesses. It also estimates that pinkeye costs producers about $150 million annually, and the disease is highly contagious among cattle. Total figures for foot rot were not immediately available.

"What's interesting about the markers on chromosome 20 is that they are in very close proximity to other markers related to other diseases," ARS geneticist Eduardo Casas, PhD, said in the USDA publication. "That particular region may have a significant effect on the general health of animals."

More information is available in the September 2011 issue of Agricultural Research, which is available at