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Abstract

The use of genetic knowledge is widespread in crop production but is just recently being utilized in livestock production. This study investigates the economic value to feedlots of a polymorphism in the bovine leptin gene. Previous studies indicate that this polymorphism is associated with fat deposition. Since fed cattle are often priced on a grid that considers both yield and quality grades, fat deposition is an important factor in the value and profitability of fed cattle. Using data from 590 crossbred steers and heifers, we estimate growth curves for relevant biological traits, both with and without genotypic information. Using the resulting functions, we then simulate carcass traits to various days-on-feed and compute the associated profit under three price grids. Maximum profits are determined in an unconstrained profit maximization model and in a model that constrains cattle to be marketed in 45-head "potloads." Results indicate that leptin genotypic knowledge has little impact on optimal days-on-feed but may play a role in valuing feeder cattle. The differences in value of cattle varied by as much as $37 per head between genotypes.

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