August 12, 2008


Pfizer Animal Genetics studying research to prevent feedlot diseases 


A study at Colorado State University may lead to early identification of animals more resistant to feedlot diseases, especially bovine respiratory disease (BRD).


The research is providing greater insight into the genetic markers responsible for improved feedlot health, a promising significant breakthrough for the beef industry, said Nigel Evans, Ph.D., Vice President of Pfizer Animal Genetics.


The study is the first of its kind and is sponsored by Pfizer Animal Genetics and the National Beef Cattle Evaluation Consortium (NBCEC).


The study design and funding originated from the NBCEC, a group of universities focused on furthering genetic evaluations of beef cattle. The organization had recently completed a pilot study at Iowa State University that showed encouraging results for genetic control of pinkeye, according to NBCEC Director Dr. John Pollak.


BRD is the group's next project.


Dr. Pollak said the research combines multiple past study designs to create a unique methodology focused on genetics under commercial feedlot conditions.


The study, which began in 2007 and ends next year, involves more than 3,000 steers. All animals originate from one large commercial beef operation and are being fed at a Colorado commercial feedlot. All animals have been genotyped and performance and health traits will be monitored throughout the research while overall health and carcass quality will be charted after harvest. 


The first-year data already is being used to identify possible genetic marker panels that are indicative of animals less susceptible to common feedlot diseases. Currently in its second year, researchers are beginning to validate research results. 


Data from the study also is being utilized by Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Medicine Research and Development (VMRD).


Pfizer is looking at the synergies between animal health and genetics to develop therapies that will improve the health of the animal, says Director of Livestock Pharmaceuticals Jeffrey Watts, Ph.D., Pfizer Animal Health. 


Not only would the study help Pfizer develop tailor made products for animals based on their genetic predisposition, the study would also help the company in future recommend different management regimens to treat common feedlot diseases and improve the overall performance based on an animal's specific genetic makeup, Dr. Watts said.

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