Friday, January 30, 2009

Selecting for cold tolerence

A new gene test for cold tolerance in sheep is proving popular with farmers in New Zealand. The gene influences heat generation in response to cold stress and was discovered by researchers at Lincoln University.

Research shows that depending on which variant of the cold tolerance gene is carried, lambs will have improved survival. According to researchers, about one third of lamb deaths can be attributed to cold in some way.

The test can be conducted from a blood sample sent to the Lincoln laboratory. The gene variants are given a score of A, B or C; A being the best and C the least desirable. Progeny that inherit one or more of the poor C variant of the gene are more likely to die during a cold challenge than an animal with an A score.

If cold tolerance is an issue in a flock, the gene marker test will make a significant difference.

Thanks to Kelly Cole for suggesting this topic.