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Canadian Angus Bred to Beat the Heat

05 August 2015

CANADA - Cloned animals with white hair and black skin have more chances to overcome sun attacks, a Canadian initiative has discovered.

Genome Alberta, a publically funded not-for-profit corporation in Canada, has disclosed results of the startup project called Climate Adaptive Genetics aiming to help farmers to raise Angus cattle.

Dr James West, Vanderbilt University associate professor of medicine and chief science officer of Climate Adaptive Genetics, said: "Cattle white skin is actually terrible for the heat. You can't have white skin because then you get sunburned and melanoma.

"But if you put a mutation in the gene that brings the melanin to the hair, and it's the same gene in birds that brings the melanin into the feathers, you can get black skin with white hair.”

The project group have already managed to keep the genetic tinkering to a single species.

Silver Galloway, a Scottish breed, was used to pull the gene out of them for white hair and black skin. Genes from Senepol cattle, a West African breed that came from the Caribbean, are also used in the mix.

The experiment resulted in short-haired, white fur, black skin Black Angus. 

"First of all, commercial cloning in cattle is big business. Back in 2007, the USDA approved cloning for human food consumption,” said Dr. West. “So what we're doing is taking fibroblasts out of the champion Angus line, culturing those in a dish, and we put in the gene for the white coat, black skin from the Silver Galloway. Then we mail it off for commercial cloning."

The clones may help Black Angus cattle to adapt to climate change and ensure food security. 

TheCattleSite News Desk

Top image via Shutterstock

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