Grant Funding to Study Cattle Genomics Could Breed Profits

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UTIA Researchers Explore Value-added Marketing Opportunities

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A team of researchers at the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has been awarded a $156,000 grant to examine value-added opportunities for marketing cattle using genetic information at the seedstock, cow-calf and stocker producer stages of the beef supply chain. The project links the flow of cattle genetic information along the supply chain, equipping cattle producers with information to help make decisions on which characteristics may be valuable to naturally breed in their calves.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service, researchers will evaluate Tennessee cow-calf producer preferences for bull genomics and physical traits, as well as evaluate cow-calf/stocker producer preferences for marketing their cattle to feedlots using newly available genomic testing. Connecting producer values of genetic information along the production supply chain can improve market efficiency, cattle sustainability and potentially impact producer profitability. Researchers will also examine the value that feedlots place on feeder cattle genetic testing and specific feeder cattle traits.

“A goal of this project is to enhance marketing opportunities for seedstock, cow-calf and stocker producers and provide them with valuable information as they consider which genetic traits to incorporate into their herds,” said project leader Karen DeLong, assistant professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. “We hope the information obtained from this grant can be used by producers when making marketing decisions regarding whether to retain ownership of their cattle or sell them at certain stages of the supply chain.”

UT Extension will assist producers in understanding the value of their cattle throughout the beef supply chain, as well as understanding the value-added possibilities of using newly available genetic testing when marketing bulls and feeder cattle. Recognizing the demand for cattle of specific genetic merit could help producers tailor operational decisions to optimize their cattle marketing.

The Tennessee cattle industry generated more than half a billion dollars in 2017. This project has the potential to increase profitability and economic opportunities in rural communities with cattle operations not only in Tennessee but also in other cattle-producing states.

The research team is comprised of the following faculty from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics: Karen DeLong, Chris Boyer, Andrew Griffith and Kim Jensen.

Project partners include the Tennessee Department of Agriculture; Tennessee Cattlemen’s Association; Oak Hollow Farms, an Angus breeding operation; and the Midwestern feedlot group Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity Cooperative.

Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching and Extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.

Media Contact

Tina M. Johson

Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics



Karen DeLong

Chris Boyer

Andrew Griffith

Kim Jensen