Enhancement of Sustainable Livestock Grazing through Selection and Training

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2009: $229,527.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Western
State: New Mexico
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Derek Bailey
New Mexico State University

Annual Reports


  • Animals: bovine


  • Animal Production: grazing management


    Cattle distribution patterns and associated DNA samples from tracked cows were analyzed using High Density Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) technology. One genetic marker overlaid a gene that has been reported to be a factor in feeding behavior, appetite and locomotion, and it accounted for 25% of the phenotypic variation in use of steep slopes and high elevations. A smaller SNP panel was developed and confirmed that multiple genetic markers could explain 10% to 26% of phenotypic variation in terrain use. Associations between terrain use indices and multiple genetic markers near candidate genes clearly show that cattle grazing distribution is inherited.

    Project objectives:

    1) Evaluate the extent that genetics influence cattle distribution.

    1a) Determine if cattle that use rugged terrain far from water are familialy related.

    1b) Determine if cattle that use gentle terrain near water are familialy related.

    2) Determine if the propensity for cows to use rugged terrain can be identified from the behavior of the bull that sired it.

    3) Use identification and selection of adapted cattle at cooperating ranches as a forum and demonstration to train ranchers to develop and implement site-specific grazing management practices.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.