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Genetic Test Identifies Tough Animals
Two researchers have developed a genetic test to determine which young steers will produce prime rib and which will produce only ground chuck.
  "The DNA test can identify, with 99% accuracy, whether cattle have the genetic potential to produce tender, tasty beef if fed and raised properly," says Francis Fluharty, an Ohio State University feedlot nutritionist who developed the test along with molecular biologist Daral Jackwood.
  Fluharty says the test would allow farmers and feedlot operators to avoid wasting time and money fattening up cattle that will never produce high-quality steaks. Tough-meat cattle could be eliminated through selective breeding, meaning consumers would get only quality choice cuts for their money.
  "I think the potential is huge," says Jim Riemann, executive director of the Certified Angus Beef Program, which plans to license the test for exclusive use in Angus cattle. "It should take a lot of variability out of the market."
  The test would be done early in a steer's life. Inferior animals could be raised for hamburger or other ground meat whose tenderness isn't as important.
  "Savings could reach $40 to $50 per animal in the feedlot," says Fluharty.
  "The technology, if widely used, could eliminate most tough beef from the marketplace within a decade," he says.    The test would require a few drops of blood, cost about $10 per animal and take about a week, the researchers say. Further refinements to the test and finding labs to perform it could take up to two years.

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2000 - Volume #24, Issue #6