Canadian Beef Cattle Reference Herd

an "ET herd" was established at the University of Saskatchewan for gene mapping studies



This webpage was last updated on May 8, 2006 by Sheila Schmutz

In September, 1995, this herd was established to have a group of closely related families of cattle to study tenderness and other production traits in beef cattle from a genetic viewpoint. The main aim is to use DNA markers, about 150, for gene mapping of these quantitative traits.

The meat quality measurements were done by researchers at the Agri-Food and Agriculture Canada research station in Lacombe, Alberta in an associated phase of this project. These studies include biochemical and shear force measurements of the meat, taste panel studies, as well as standard "blue tag" grading and carcass composition. Some additional measurements were done by Dr. Jane Boles, when she was at the U of S. The DNA studies were conducted in Saskatoon at Saskatchewan Research Council and the University. Genotyping of the 163 microsatellites originally chosen is completed. Fine mapping of certain target areas in being conducted now. Affiliated studies were conducted at other institutions.

This project was funded by the Canadian Cattlemen's Association and the Alberta Cattle Commission and matched by the National Science and Engineering Research Council-Industry Oriented Research program.

Although this study officially ended in 2001, the DNA from this herd continues to be a valuable resource used by many graduate students in our lab. This webpage does not reflect all of this research but emphasizes only the research during the 1995-2001 period.

Herd Structure

The criteria for selecting the parental generation, the heifers and bulls, were that they be registerable Angus, Belgian Blue, Charolais, Hereford, Limousin, or Simmental cattle from which blood and/or semen could be obtained from their parents to provide a "third generation" for study. All the heifers were from embryo transfer families themselves, to optimize the chance of success with superovulation since this seems to be heritable. The breeds were chosen from the five most common breeds used in Canada and a breed purported to have double muscling. The cattle represent a wide variety of genetic backgrounds, although obviously not comprehensive for each breed since only 3 heifers and 1 bull were purchased from each breed. They come from Ontario through to British Columbia with no more than one animal purchased per ranch. The cattle are both horned and polled and represent color variants of the breeds.

The successful 15 heifer dams and 5 sires were born in early 1995. These heifers were superovulated and bred by natural service. The embryos were collected in spring 1996 and transplanted to recipient cow mothers. One hundred and forty-five calves in 17 full-sib families resulted (depicted near the bottom of this webpage). Of these 34 are purebred and 111 are crossbred.

The recipient dams were all 3 years or over and originated from the Termuende herd, the Ag Canada herd at Melfort, the Braithwaite ranch, and the Funk ranch. The recipient dams were kept at the Termuende Research Farm near Lanigan from embryo transfer through weaning of the calves. The donor dams and the sires were kept at the University of Saskatchewan Beef Research Unit in Saskatoon from the time they were purchased at weaning until they went to slaughter at the Lacombe Research Station. The offspring followed the same protocol. The first family was slaughtered on August 4 and the last in December of 1998.

Production Traits Measured

Example Findings

QTL= quantitative trait locus or gene. This abbreviation is typically used to indicate the region of a chromosome where a statistically significant peak was found showing close association or linkage between a marker or gene and a trait. A diagram of such peaks is shown below. Weaning weight data were adjusted for sex, age, dam age and size by Brad Fournier, one of the Master's students. ADG1 is average daily gain from birth to weaning and ADG2 is from weaning to finish in a feedlot. The markers are the microsatellite DNA markers run to do this analysis for this chromosome. At the extreme left is a list of genes that have been mapped in cattle to the positions indicated by us or other researchers. The corresponding known genes under the first peak are collagen 6A1, superoxide dismutase 1, and lactoperoxidase. None of these make much sense in terms of causing increased weaning weight. However the genes under the second smaller peak further down the chromosome are somatostatin and uridine monophaste synthetase (the cause of DUMPs disease in Holsteins). Somatostatin is a growth hormone and therefore is a logical candidate gene for weaning weight. It will be explored further to determine is specific forms of somatostatin occur which might be related to different growth rates.

QTLs for Growth Traits on Chromosome 1

Researchers Involved with this Study


Sheila Schmutz, Ph.D., Dept. of Animal and Poultry Science, U. of S.

Fiona Buchanan, Ph.D., Dept. of Animal and Poultry Science, U. of S.

Yves Plante, Ph.D., Bovine Blood Typing Lab, Saskatchewan Research Council, Saskatoon

Dianne Winkelman-Sim, Ph.D., Dept. of Animal and Poultry Science, U. of S.

John McKinnon, Ph.D., Dept. of Animal and Poultry Science, U. of S.

Bernard Laarveld, Ph.D., Head, Dept. of Animal and Poultry Science, U. of S.

Vlad Pawlyshyn, D.V.M., MV.Sc., Trans-Tech Genetics, Saskatoon

Joe Stookey, Ph.D., Dept. of Herd Medicine & Theriogenology, U. of S.

Jennifer L. Aalhus, Ph.D., Agriculture Canada, LaCombe, Alberta

Jane Ann Boles, Ph.D., Dept. of Applied Microbiology and Food Science, U. of S. (now Montana State University)

Graduate Students Involved with this Study

Leigh Marquess, M.Sc. 1999

Jeffrey Seitz, M.Sc. 1999

Brad Fournier, M.Sc., 2000

Bob Schimpf, M.Sc., 2001

Mika Asai, M.Sc. 2001 (Ph.D from ETH, 2005)

Barbara Schmidtz, M.Sc. 2001

Articles in the Popular Press Related to this Study

....Who's the tenderest of them all? Western Producer, June 4, 1998. D'Arce McMillan.

Coat Color Uncoded. Cattlemen magazine, January 1999 issue. p. 34 Sheila Schmutz.

Coat Color and Its Ramifications. Simmental Country, January 1999 issue. p. 28-29 Sheila Schmutz.

Scientists Search Genes for Beef Tenderness,, Western Producer, March 16, 2000, p. 97. D'Arce McMillan.

DNA Research on Meat Quality. Cattlemen magazine, June/July 2001 issue. p. 18-19. Sheila Schmutz.

Scientific Publications Related to Mapping with this Herd

Fournier, B. P., S. M. Schmutz, R. J. Schimpf, Y. Plante, F. C. Buchanan. 1998. A quantitative trait locus for weaning weight in Bos taurus maps to chromosome 2. Animal Genetics 29 (Supp. 1):64.

Ellinwood, N. M., B.P. Fournier, T. G. Berryere, R. A. Bowen, F. C. Buchanan, S. M. Schmutz. 1999. MX1 maps to Cattle Chromosome 1. Animal Genetics 30:164-165.

Seitz, J. J., S. M. Schmutz, T. D. Thue, F. C. Buchanan. 1999. A missense mutation in the bovine MGF gene is associated with the roan phenotype in Belgian Blue and Shorthorn cattle. Mamm. Genome 10: 710-712.

Schmutz, S.M., T. G. Berryere, and F. C. Buchanan. 2000. A SNP in DCT is used for linkage mapping on cattle Chromosome 12. Animal Genetics 31:336.

Watts, J. M, C. M. Waltz, S. M. Schmutz, J. M. Stookey. 2001. Variability in vocal and behavioural responses to visual isolation between full-sibling families of beef calves. Applied Animal Behavior Science 70:255-273.

Schmutz, S. M., F. C. Buchanan, D.C. Winkelman-Sim, V. Pawlyshyn, Y. Plante, J. J. McKinnon, and B. P. Fournier. 2001. Development of the Canadian Beef Reference Herd for Gene Mapping Studies. Theriogenology 55:963-972.

Schmidtz, B.H., Buchanan, F.C., Plante, Y., and Schmutz, S.M. 2001. Linkage Mapping of the Tyrosinase Gene to Bovine Chromosome 29. Animal Genetics 32:119-120

Casas, E. G.L. Bennett, C.D.K. Botema, A. Crawford, E. Kalm, S. M. Kappes, A. Kister, H. A. Lewin, S. Lien, C.A. Morris, I. Olsaker, W.S. Pitchford, S.M. Schmutz, H. Thomsen, N. Xu. 2001. Comprehensive linkage map of bovine chromosome 11. Animal Genetics 32:92-94

Casas, E., T.S. Sonstegard, W. Barendse, G.L. Bennett, C.D.K. Botema, A. Crawford, M.D. Grosz, E. Kalm, S. M. Kappes, A. Kister, Y. Li, S. Lien, C.A. Morris, I. Olsaker, W.S. Pitchford, S.M. Schmutz, H. Thomsen, N. Xu. 2001. Comprehensive linkage map of bovine chromosome 27. Animal Genetics 32:95-97.

Sonstegard, T.S., C. Bendixen, G.L. Bennett, E. Kalm, S. M. Kappes, H. A. Lewin, S. Lien, V.H. Nielsen, I. Olsaker, S.M. Schmutz, H. Thomsen, C.P. Van Tassel, N. Xu. 2001. Consensus and comprehensive linkage maps of bovine chromosome 17. Animal Genetics 32:112-113.

Sonstegard, T.S., G.L. Bennett, E. Kalm, S. M. Kappes, H. A. Lewin, I. Olsaker, S.M. Schmutz, H. Thomsen, D.I. Vage, C.P. Van Tassel, N. Xu. 2001. Consensus and comprehensive linkage maps of bovine chromosome 25. Animal Genetics 32:114-115.

Schmutz, S. M., J. M. Stookey, D.C. Winkelman-Sim, C.S. Waltz, Y. Plante and F. C. Buchanan. 2001. A QTL Study of Cattle Behavioral Traits in Embryo Transfer Families. Journal of Heredity 92:290-292.

Christison, K.M., S. M. Schmutz, and F.C. Buchanan. 2001. Linkage Mapping of MMP1 on Cattle Chromosome 15. Animal Genetics 32:316.

Schimpf, R.S., S. M. Schmutz, F. C. Buchanan. 2001. Genetic mapping of the ADRB2 gene on cattle chromosome 7. Animal Genetics 32:390.

Thue, T.D., Schmutz, S.M., Buchanan, F.C. 2001. A SNP in the cattle MC4R gene is used to map MC4R on BTA 24. Animal Genetics 32: 390-391.

Thue, T.D., Buchanan, F.C. 2002. A new polymorphism in the cattle IGFBP3 gene. Animal Genetics 33: 242.

Schmidtz, B.H. and S. M. Schmutz. 2002. Linkage Mapping of TYR to Dog Chromosome 21. Animal Genetics 33:476-477.

Kurar, E., W. Barendse, S. Davis, M. Föster, E. Kalm, S.M. Kappes, A. Kister, H.A. Lewin, S. Lien, I. Medjugorac, S.M. Schmutz, J. Taylor and B.W. Kirkpatrick. 2002. Consensus and comprehensive linkage maps of bovine chromosome 24. Animal Genetics 33:460-463.

Thue, T.D., Buchanan, F.C. 2003. Linkage mapping of POMC to bovine chromosome 11. Animal Genetics 34:149-150

Thue, T.D., Buchanan, F.C. 2003. Linkage mapping of FBN1 to bovine chromosome 10. Animal Genetics 34:150

Goodall, J. J. and S.M. Schmutz. Linkage mapping of IGF2 on cattle chromosome 29. 2003 Animal Genetics 34:313.

Thue, T.D., Buchanan, F.C. 2004. Linkage mapping of NPY to bovine chromosome 4. Animal Genetics 35:245-246.

Strom, S. A. and S. M. Schmutz. 2004. Linkage mapping of Microphthalmia-associated Transcription Factor (MITF) to cattle chromosome 22. Animal Genetics 35: 257-258

Scientific Presentations Related to Mapping with this Herd

Fitzsimmons, C. J., S. M. Schmutz. Jan. 19, 1999. A SNP in the leptin gene leads to a change in the amino acid sequence of the mature protein in cattle. Plant and Animal Genome VII, San Diego, CA. http://www.intl-pag.org/pag/7/abstracts/pag7152.html

Seitz, J. , S. M. Schmutz, T. D. Thue, F. C. Buchanan. Jan. 19, 1999. Characterization of the roan gene. Plant and Animal Genome VII, San Diego, CA. http://www.intl-pag.org/pag/7/abstracts/pag7452.html

Schimpf, R.J., J. S. Moker, F. C. Buchanan, S. M Schmutz. Jan. 19, 1999. TYRP1 gene maps to chromosome 8 in cattle. Plant and Animal Genome VII, San Diego, CA. http://www.intl-pag.org/pag/7/abstracts/pag7461.html

Schmutz, S. M., F. C. Buchanan, Y. Plante, D. C. Winkelman-Sim. Jan. 17, 1999. Mapping pre-slaughter traits using the Canadian Beef Cattle Reference Herd. Plant and Animal Genome VII, San Diego, CA. http://www.intl-pag.org/pag/7/abstracts/pag7430.html

Schmutz, S. M., F. C. Buchanan, Y. Plante, D. C. Winkelman-Sim, J. L. Aalhus, J. A. Boles, J. S. Moker. Jan. 11, 2000. Mapping collagenase and a QTL to beef tenderness to cattle chromosome 29.http://www.intl-pag.org/pag/8/abstracts/pag8191.html

Asai, M. and Schmutz, S.M. Studies in the inheritance of scurs in Bos taurus breeds. International Society for Animal Genetics, July 22-26, 2000, Minneapolis.

Schmidtz, B. H. and Schmutz, S.M. Homology of bovine tyrosinase with human, mouse, and chicken sequences. International Society for Animal Genetics, July 22-26, 2000, Minneapolis.

Berryere, T.G,.and Schmutz, S.M. Linkage mapping of TYRP2 on cattle chromosome 12. International Society for Animal Genetics, July 22-26, 2000, Minneapolis.

Schmutz, S.M., Stookey, J.M., Winkelman-Sim, D.C., Plante, Y. and Buchanan, F.C. A QTL for behavior maps to cattle chromosome 9. International Society for Animal Genetics, July 22-26, 2000, Minneapolis.

Schimpf, R.J. , Winkelman-Sim, D.C., Buchanan, F.C., Aalhus, J.L., Plante, Y., and Schmutz, S.M. QTL for marbling maps to cattle chromosome 2. International Society for Animal Genetics, July 22-26, 2000, Minneapolis.

Buchanan, F.C., Thue, T.D., Winkelman-Sim, D.C., Plante, Y., and Schmutz, S.M. Two QTLs for growth map to bovine chromosome 14. International Society for Animal Genetics, July 22-26, 2000, Minneapolis.

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for further information contact:

Department of Animal and Poultry Science

University of Saskatchewan

Saskatoon, Canada S7N 5A8

phone: (306)966-4153 fax: (306)966-4151

e-mail schmutz@sask.usask.ca