Genetic profiling project aims to boost TB resistance in cattle
Tests on 12,000 dairy cows aim to improve the accuracy of a genetic prediction tool that could help breed TB resistance into the national herd.
Scientists are undertaking genetic profiling of thousands of cows as part of efforts to breed cattle herds which are more resistant to tuberculosis.
The disease is a major problem for dairy and beef farmers in some parts of the country, and efforts to curb TB in cattle include the controversial badger cull, as the wild animals can spread infection to livestock on farms.
Experts say that improving predictions for which cattle are more naturally resistant to TB will help farmers breed animals which are less likely to catch and pass on the disease.
The mass-profiling project by the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB), partnering with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), is one of two schemes by the organisations on genetic resistance to TB in cattle.
It builds on recent AHDB research which identified significant genetic variations between resistant and non-resistant individual animals.
We are breeding a better inherited resistance into the national dairy herd AHDB Dairy
Employing the same techniques used to establish if people have an inherited risk of cancer or certain diseases, the researchers will look for “genetic signatures” for TB resistance in 12,000 cows in affected herds.
Testing large numbers of animals will improve the accuracy of “genomic prediction” measures being developed to help farmers choose which cattle to breed and keep on the basis of TB resistance.