US food and agribusiness Cargill has announced that together with life sciences company MetaMorphix it has completed the first whole cattle genome association study and developed tools that could identify cattle that meet consumer demands for quality meat products.

In June 2002, MetaMorphix (MMI) and Cargill subsidiaries Caprock Cattle Feeders and Excel Corporation signed an exclusive research and development agreement to develop and commercialise tools to identify cattle bearing traits that satisfy consumer demands for consistency and quality in beef.

MMI conducted a whole genome association study in a population of commercial beef cattle at a Caprock feedlot and discovered specific regions in the cattle genome that associate with desirable beef traits.

“We are pleased with the project progress. The creation of this unique set of markers in the bovine genome will permit the development of a product that we expect will aid the cattle feedlot technology aimed at production of superior cattle and beef. We look forward to working with MetaMorphix to bring this innovation to the cattle industry,” said Albert Paszek, director of animal productivity and genomics at Cargill.

Cargill said that over the next year the tools will be validated in Caprock feedlots to examine their use in commercial cattle production.