The genetic sequence of the first cow was published in 2009. This milestone was achieved through an international collaboration with 300 scientists in 25 countries and took six years to complete. The cow sequenced was a Hereford… additional breeds have also been sequenced, including Holstein, Angus, Jersey, Limousin, Norwegian Red and Brahman.
This sequence information can be analyzed directly, used for comparing animals within a breed, or for comparing animals across breeds.
One category of genetic difference frequently used for comparison is Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms or SNPs. SNPs are used as genetic markers to track the ancestral heritage of regions of DNA or of individual animals. SNPs also can be used to predict the likelihood that a given animal will possess an individual or a series of desirable trait(s). The latter can only occur once an SNP or a collection of SNPs is linked to a particular trait.
In (Canadian Cattle Genome) projects, genotypes (the pattern of important SNPs), from a wide range of beef and dairy breeds will be used to develop accurate genomic prediction equations to assess the genetic potential of an individual animal.