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Veterinary colleges share more than $14 million to study cattle disease

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Jun 01, 2011

COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — Researchers at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (TAMU) are leading studies on Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD), funded through $14.2 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Dr. James Womack, W.P. Luse Endowed & Distinguished Professor at TAMU, is leading the project, which will extend to several other universities, including the University of Missouri, Washington State University, the University of California-Davis (UC-Davis), New Mexico State University, Colorado State University and the University of Wisconsin.

Womack and his team at TAMU will spearhead work on the first grant project of the program, worth $9.2 million. They will work with commercial feedlots to analyze the DNA of more than 6,000 cattle in order to develop selective breeding programs. The research aims at improving animal-health-management strategies and providing greater understanding of the biological interactions between hosts and disease-causing pathogens.

At Missouri, Dr. Jerry Taylor, Wurdack Chair in Animal Genomics, will use a second $5 million USDA grant to study feed efficiency in cattle. His team will genotype 8,000 cattle to look for genetic differences affecting feed intake and efficiency, and study bacteria and microbes in the cattle's stomach that aid digestion.

Work at UC-Davis, led by Alison Van Eenennaam, cooperative extension specialist in animal genomics and biotechnology, will focus on outreach activities and educational materials for best-handling practices for beef and dairy cattle BRD control and prevention.