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Catfish swimming in a tank

Catfish swimming in a tank

Breeding Healthier Cattle and Sustainable Seafood

A dairy cow in a field

Breeding better cattle, swine, and seafood not only helps ranchers and farmers but also reaps benefits that show up on our dinner tables. However, farm animals and seafood need to be produced more economically and on sustainable diets.

ARS researchers are at the forefront of cutting-edge genomics research that is leading to big payoffs, providing breeders with the molecular tools they need to improve on key traits such as disease resistance. As a result, we have cattle that are better able to resist mastitis and respiratory disease and grow efficiently to marketable sizes.

We also have catfish better equipped to fight off enteric septicemia, a highly infectious bacterial disease, and other infections. ARS genomic advances have made it possible to breed catfish yielding fillets that are 7 percent larger than currently produced fillets. If adopted industry-wide, these larger catfish would add 22 million pounds of edible seafood to the Nation's food supply.

For the dairy industry, ARS genetic advances increased the rate of the cattle's reproductive success without compromising progress made toward breeding for better milk production. The dairy industry is more interested these days in producing milk with the right amounts of fat and protein to meet market demands than on increasing total milk volume.

ARS scientists are helping to address that goal and also improving animal health, fertility, and lifespan with genetic improvements. If implemented by the Nation's dairy producers, these improvements could translate into $2.5 million in added profits each year.

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