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Cattle's DNA tested for steak tenderness

April 18, 2005 at 6:17 PM

BELTSVILLE, Md., April 18 (UPI) -- Biotech entrepreneurs have developed DNA tests to tell which cattle produce the juiciest steaks for the U.S. market.

At Cargill Inc.'s feedlots in Kansas and Texas, as cattle move through a chute one by one, they are vaccinated, checked for lice, ears are pierced and tagged and a blood sample is taken.

The blood sample is shipped to a California lab run by MetaMorphix Inc. of Beltsville, Md.. The laboratory uses a genotyping machine to analyze the cattle's DNA for genetic traits that produce tender, thickly marbled beef that fetches top prices, the Washington Post reported Monday.

Those cattle that have the right DNA for juicy steaks get a longer life and are provided with better feed, while the other cattle feed on grass and hay and may end up as hamburger.

"I think that in the long term, over the next 20 years, this kind of technology will absolutely have a huge impact on the livestock industry," said Ronald Green, national program leader for food animal production at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

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