Selective breeding of cattle involves the deliberate pairing of male and female animals by breeders or owners in an attempt to influence the traits of the offspring. This practice has been part of domestication of animals for thousands of years. With regard to cattle it presents several advantages to the breeder and the general public.
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Isolate Dominant Traits
One advantage of selective breeding is the isolation of dominant traits, like fast growth Dominant traits can disappear in offspring due to a combination of recessive genes. Selective breeding eliminates this problem. Breeders keep records of the traits of each of their herd. They then select males and females for breeding to produce the desired traits. After several generations the breeders isolate the dominant traits and can predict what traits an offspring will display.
Elimination of Undesirable Traits
Crossing two cows to eliminate an undesirable trait is called hybridisation. An example is Santa Gertrudis cattle. This breed is a cross between Brahman and English Shorthorn. Brahman cattle resist heat well but do not produce good beef. English Shorthorn cattle possess the opposite qualities; a good beef cattle that does not do well in the heat. Select breeding between the Brahman and Shorthorn produces a hybrid that does well in heat and produces good beef.
Selective breeding produces offspring with the desired genetic make-up for cattle. Breeders identify the males and females with that make-up and use them to reproduce their herd. Breeders save their genetic material in a gene bank so it will not be lost in the event sometime happens to their herd. Preservative of genetic material is crucial for the future of cattle.
Selective breeding means more money for cattle breeders. Cattle with desirable traits produce more milk, provide better beef and have a greater market value. The genetic material produced has value and each generation results in a better and more valuable cow. The hybrid cows can be sold to a new breeder seeking to start a new herd which provides another economic benefit.
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