Genesis Faraday, the organisation which funds and promotes the
development of new genetic technologies, has backed the beef industry
in research which could persuade breeders to use gene marking,
identified through DNA, to produce cattle with more tender beef.
A DNA test simply requires a few strands of tail hair.
And the results of the trial, in which Dovecote Park, Border
Quality Beef, the National Beef Association, IGENITY® and
the University of Bristol are working together to discover which
tenderness gene marker scores meet consumer expectations for
beef tenderness consistently well, are expected later this year.
“The apparently random tendency of some animals to produce tough beef has
frustrated consumers, retailers and breeders for decades but the identification
of exactly which cattle carry the gene score combination that makes their beef
acceptably tender could revolutionise beef production,” explained National
Beef Association director, Kim Haywood, who co-ordinated the group application
for the research grant.
“The trial’s first task is to discover the actual relationship between
DNA profile scores for the tenderness gene and actual meat tenderness. Then a
full investigation into whether selection based exclusively on traits which govern
eating quality will undermine other physiological traits like growth rate, muscling
or produce a different fat score is also being conducted.”
“Once this information has been verified, and if the results are as good
as the industry hopes, then a number of new commercial doors will immediately
swing open and moves can be made to produce animals which will be more valuable
because none of their beef will disappoint consumers by being tough.”
The NBA which has for a decade been a committed supporter of the production of
more high quality beef suspects that one of the first results of the DNA based
trial will be a surge in the number of breeders using objective data to make
sure they are purchasing the right stock bulls and brood cows.
“The visible characteristics that make a show champion will no longer be
enough on their own to persuade modern breeders that they can be certain they
are looking at exactly the type of animal they want,” said Ms Haywood.
“Instead they will need to combine genetic information made available through
EBV (Estimated Breed Value) with other figures relating directly to beef tenderness
to identify animals that are in the best position to deliver a high quality beef
product to the supply chain.”
“Animals carrying the tenderness gene will be more valuable to consumers
, retailers and processors who are prepared to construct a supply chain focussed
on the delivery of more consistently tender beef and it is expected they will
carry a premium as a result of this.”
“And because the same DNA gene marking technology that confirms inheritance
of the tenderness gene also confirms the identity of the individual animal there
will be in-built traceability that will identify beef from individual animals
that have been moved through secure supply systems too.”
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