Genomics Use with Cattle
In this training we talk about cattle genomics with Dr. Milton Thomas from Colorado State University. Dr. Thomas explains what genomics is and how genomics use with cattle can help you improve your herd. Dr. Thomas is very good at taking a very technical process and distilling it down into layman's terms that the rest of us can understand. If you have any questions about genomics, this is the training for you that will help you use genomics to your best benefit.
One word of caution when it comes to animal traits and drilling down to specifics; don't get caught in the details! Any time you put too much emphasis on one trait you are more than likely ignoring other traits. As I understand it from Dr. Thomas, cattle have 30 pairs of gene sequences and a recent study has identified 9.5 million markers in some of those sequences and that is still not all of them. We should obviously breed for the best traits and genomics can help you fine tune that process but don't get caught too much on any one given trait.
So who is Dr. Milt Thomas other than a friendly West Texas guy? Here are his specifics.
Dr. Milton G. Thomas joined Colorado State University in December of 2011 as Professor and John E. Rouse Chair of Beef Cattle Breeding and Genetics in the Department of Animal Sciences. He is also Adjunct Professor in the Animal Reproduction Biotechnology Laboratory in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. Milt grew-up in a family involved in diversified agriculture in Texas and Missouri and was very active in FFA leadership and public speaking activities. He completed undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral studies in animal science and molecular biology at the University of Missouri (B.S. 1988 and M.S. 1990), Texas A&M University (Ph.D. 1994), and the University of Texas Institute of Biotechnology – Center for Molecular Medicine (1994-1996). Dr. Thomas progressed through the faculty ranks in the Department of Animal and Range Sciences at New Mexico State University from 1997 through 2011. In addition to undergraduate and graduate teaching, his responsibilities included coordinating the Angus, Brangus, Brahman cattle breeding program on the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center and the Corona Range and Livestock Research Center. Milt helped use these experiment station resources to grow the breeding program into the realm of animal genomics, which is also his role with the Rouse Angus herd at CSU. Dr. Thomas’ ability to lead these research efforts has been aided by sabbaticals at University of California, Davis and CSIRO-Australia and service to breed improvement committees of several breed associations.
Here is a free clip of Dr. Thomas explaining what Genomics for Cattle is. He goes into detail about how you can use Genomics to improve your profits by improving your herd.
Milt has published ~385 professional articles as abstracts, experiment station reports, WSASAS proceedings, etc. Seventy of these documents are in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Thomas has served on the editorial boards of Journal of Animal Science, Domestic Animal Endocrinology, and Frontiers in Livestock Genomics and accrued ~$2.6 million in research and agriculture experiment station funding. He also helped support agriculture experiment station cattle breeding programs by marketing ~$1.5 million of breeding bulls. Through these teaching, research, and service endeavors, Dr. Thomas has trained 16 graduate students and postdocs. He has also mentored more than 25 undergraduates interested in research. Dr. Thomas received the Distinguished Research Award for the College of Agriculture and Home Economics at New Mexico State University in 2004 and then served as the Gerald Thomas Chair in Food Production and Natural Resources, 2010 to 2011. This one-year position internationalized collaborative study of genomics and heifer fertility. Milt is a 2011 graduate of the Lead21 program and served as Director At-Large and Recording Secretary of American Society of Animal Science from 2008 to 2010. These leadership activities helped prepare Dr. Thomas for the challenge of leading team-based genomics research with the Colorado State University Beef Improvement Center (i.e., Rouse Ranch) in Wyoming.
To learn more about genomics you can visit the website of a large International research project that Dr. Thomas is a part of. Dr. Thomas recommends checking out the tab for Educators and the tab for Producers.