Animal Science Department


Date of this Version

December 2003


Published for Proceedings, The Range Beef Cow Symposium XVIII December 9, 10, and 11, 2003, Mitchell, Nebraska.


Genetic improvement in livestock has a truly amazing history, with the beef industry having been blessed with many of the major scientific innovations that have occurred along the way. In recent years, it has been nearly impossible to miss seemingly daily news reports about exciting discoveries in the new field of molecular genetics and genomics. While most of these reports have focused on the unraveling of the human genome and its implications for human health, there has been significant spillover in to plant and animal agriculture as well. At times over the past 15 years, it has seemed to many that this new and exciting field would hold all of the immediate answers to breeding better beef cattle. In 2003 we stand on the brink of having the DNA sequence of the cow genome completed and made publicly available. What will this mean to the beef industry? The objectives of this presentation are to: 1) provide a rigorous overview of the field of genomics as related to genetic improvement of beef cattle, from historical, current, and future perspectives; and 2) provide some insight in to what the future system of genetic evaluation will look like with the coming addition of molecular genetic information.