Study has hu­man im­pli­ca­tion

Matamata Chronicle - - Rural Delivery -

New re­search that ex­plains what makes some cows taller than oth­ers could also help to pro­vide the same an­swers about peo­ple.

A New Zealand study, led by dairy farmer co-op Live­stock Im­prove­ment, has re­ceived in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion for iden­ti­fy­ing which part of the cow’s ge­netic makeup has an ef­fect on height.

Their find­ings were pub­lished in Na­ture Ge­net­ics, an ac­co­lade that sci­en­tists all over the world strive to achieve.

Live­stock Im­prove­ment’s Dr Richard Spel­man said it un­locked the po­ten­tial for Live­stock Im­prove­ment farm­ers to choose how tall and heavy they want their cows to be.

‘‘We’ll be able to breed cows to a cer­tain size, up to 40kg heav­ier or lighter and it also pro­vides in­sight into hu­man height be­cause their DNA makeup is very sim­i­lar to a cow,’’ he said.

New Zealand’s pre­dom­i­nant cow breeds are the small, brown Jer­seys and the larger black and white Hol­stein-Friesian.

The study aimed to find out what made one breed larger than the other.

Cow size has a di­rect link to farm an­i­mal pro­duc­tiv­ity as heav­ier cows re­quire more feed for main­te­nance, he said.

The study’s find­ings al­low Live­stock Im­prove­ment to po­ten­tially re­duce the vari­ance in its Ki­wiCross breed, a com­bi­na­tion of Jersey and Hol­steinFriesian.

‘‘The find­ings are sig­nif­i­cant as was the 10-year process to get there.

‘‘We went through the DNA of 800 cows and each has more than three bil­lion base pairs to be an­a­lysed.’’

The team found a signature on chro­mo­some 14 for the shorter cows and were able to iden­tify the ‘‘one or two’’ base pairs that af­fected height.

Dr Spel­man said be­ing pub­lished in Na­ture was a great achieve­ment for the team and New Zealand sci­en­tists. ‘‘It’s a highly re­garded pub­li­ca­tion.

‘‘Pub­lish­ing the work is an ac­knowl­edge­ment of how highly re­garded New Zealand sci­en­tists are on the world stage,’’ Dr Spel­man said.

Too tall or too short: A New Zealand study, led by dairy farmer co-op Live­stock Im­prove­ment, has re­ceived in­ter­na­tional recog­ni­tion for iden­ti­fy­ing which part of the cow’s ge­netic makeup has an ef­fect on how tall it will be.

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