The Rustler: August 2022



Harris County Cattlemen’s Association

Monthly Meeting


Where: Harris County Agri-Center


When: August 30, 2022

7:30 pm for the Steak Dinner


Sponsor: Outdoor Detail


Reservations:

  1. Call or email Linda Luttrell at 706-801- 6056 or email lcl343@gmail.com.

2. PLEASE DO NOT CALL FARM BUREAU.

3. Cut off for reservations is the August 25th at noon. 4. We will only have steaks for those that have called in.

**VERY IMPORTANT**

If you make a reservation, there will be a steak with your name on it at the meeting. If you don’t show up, we will have extra steaks that we have to sell below market price. Please make every effort to attend. This will help control costs for everyone. The cost of our steaks has increased by 30%. Due to this rising cost, prices for dinner will increase to $20.00 for members and $25.00 for non-members.



June Meal Costs:

Members -- $20.00

Non-Members -- $25.00


Online Resources:

https://georgiaforages.caes.uga.edu/

Developing a genetic solution to the billion-dollar horn fly problem

By Claire Sanders

On a warm summer night in the South, it’s not unusual to get a few mosquito bites — but some of us tend to get bitten more frequently than others, a result of genetic predispositions that make us more attractive to the insects.

It’s not just humans and mosquitos whose relationship is determined by genetics, but also cows and horn flies, according Romdhane Rekaya, a professor in the University of Georgia’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.

Horn flies are one of the most economically detrimental pests for the cattle industry, with an average of $1.8 billion in economic damages per year. These small, black flies remain on the cattle almost continuously and use their piercing bite to draw blood, which is their only source of food. In order to mitigate the pain and discomfort of these pests, cattle will swat with their tails, move their heads and kick at their belly, among other generally unsuccessful methods.

Based in the Department of Animal and Dairy Science, Rekaya is leading a cross-disciplinary team of researchers to address the horn fly issue through the development of advanced data collection tools and artificial intelligence (AI) approaches.

Phenotypic, physiological, behavioral and genomic information will be integrated through sophisticated AI tools to derive the needed response traits and to dissect their genetic basis.

Finding genetic solutions

Funded by a $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture and a small industry grant from the Georgia beef commission, Rekaya hopes UGA’s team will be able to address the horn fly issue, a problem that is as old as cattle themselves.

“We are experts in animal breeding and genetics — we’ve been able to select for several traits resulting in spectacular improvement in productivity, so why not try to make the animal itself a part of the solution? We are planning to harness the animal genetic potential to address the issue of horn fly to increase productivity and to reduce the environmental impact and insecticide resistance,” Rekaya said.

With increased horn fly numbers, cattle tend to lose growth efficiency as a result of reduced feed intake and the extra energy expenditure involved in tail swatting and head movement. Damaged hides and other cosmetic defects, as well as reduced productivity, can result in decreased returns and potential losses in revenue for producers.

Despite the negative impact on productivity and animal welfare, horn fly research has proven difficult because there is not currently a reliable, scientifically derived estimate of the onset of the economic injury threshold at the individual animal level due to horn fly abundance. Without this critical information assessing the impact of horn fly abundance on productivity, scientists are ill-equipped to devise genetic solutions to mitigate the problem.

Horn fly abundance, the onset of economic injury threshold, and the rate of decay of performance after onset vary from animal to animal.

“Unfortunately, we do not have reliable, cost-effective and scalable approaches to assess these responses. Successfully tackling this problem has the potential to substantially improve beef cattle productivity,” Rekaya said.

The research team includes experts in animal science, entomology and veterinary medicine who will collect various data points from cattle in the study to identify which traits determine an animal’s unique tolerance and resistance levels. They are also working to create computational tools and resources to make automated assessments of horn fly abundance.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me at (706)628-4824.



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