The Start of a Beef 'Grand Challenge'
By Drovers News Source
November 17, 2021
During the 2021 Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Symposium the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Beef Grand Challenge Project was introduced. Dr. Larry Kuehn, research geneticist at the U.S. Meat Animal Research Center, explained that the project was launched to ascertain the interaction of genetic and environmental effects, improve production efficiency and evaluate nutritional benefits of beef raised in differing production environments.
“A ‘Grand Challenge’ is an ARS program for large collaborative projects designed to meet multiple goals to improve production efficiency, reduce environmental impact, encourage sustainable production, and optimize whole agricultural systems through integrated research programs,” Kuehn said during his presentation June 23 in Des Moines, Iowa.
The Beef Grand Challenge is a highly integrated project, involving food animal production, human nutrition, food safety, water availability and watershed management, and grass, forage, and rangeland agroecosystems. The main project is a stocker program to evaluate genotypes in multiple management and environment systems.
The project focuses on progeny of bulls from the four beef breeds with the most registered cattle (Angus, Hereford, Simmental and Charolais) as well from progeny from Brahman composite bulls (Brangus and Beefmaster). These are mated to the base cows from the USMARC Germplasm Evaluation Program (GPE) with the aim of having enough progeny from each breed at each of five different ARS locations to examine potential differences and interactions between breed, environment and management.
“The purpose of the Grand Challenge Project in a nutshell is to have breeds of sires and large sire families evaluated at multiple locations and management systems while utilizing females mated to GPE bulls to achieve this goal,” Kuehn said.
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