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Does it really matter that bison have cattle genes?

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  • Does it really matter that bison have cattle genes?

    This is a discussion related to the Article "Does it really matter that bison have cattle genes?" which can be read in full here:
    http://www.ozarkbisons.com/literatur...-it-matter.pdf

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  • #2
    I have read the first three articles. Let me say first, they are way above my pay grade. However, I am confused on some of your conclusions. My first question is: Are there any genetically pure bison? Based on what I have read, it appears there is not. Second, you mention the purity of breeding bulls. Who has breeding bulls that meet these requirements? Third, is the Yellowstone herd as pure as we can get? Fourth, the Minneapolis Zoo maintains they have the only "pure" bison in the country. Is this a fact or fiction?

    Thank you.

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    • #3
      Another excellent article. The articles give me much to think about as we form our business model for our small ranch operation in northwestern Minnesota. As a Wildlife Biologist, I believe strongly in the sanctity of species. Thank you for taking the time to put these articles together.

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      • #4
        Well, I just found these messages from about 10-months ago. Better late than never ...

        Are there any genetically pure bison? That is a question that comes up quite commonly. We are limited in our knowledge and in available technology. While we might not be able to tell you what is pure bison, we can tell you what is not. There are 25 nuclear markers associated with cattle introgression in addition to mitochondrial type. If an animal has any of these markers or cattle-type mitochondria, we know that this animal has cattle introgression in its bloodline and is not pure bison. It is a bison-cattle hybrid by definition. An animal that does not have any bovine nuclear markers and bison mitochondrial DNA, we assume it is pure bison. It may not be, but it is the best available technology has to offer.

        Who has breeding bulls that meet these requirements? There are a lot of bulls out there that are "clean", i.e., do not have any evidence of past cattle introgression. You just have to look for them, demand DNA testing etc. We have 2 "clean" bulls. Unfortunately there are a lot of bulls out there that have cattle introgression (are hybrids) and they are spreading these cattle genes to their offspring. We recently purchased 3 bred 2-year old cows. The 3 cows tested clean but all the calves had evidence of cattle introgression. Obviously the herd sire was/is a hybrid and it wont be long before the entire herd is polluted.

        Third, is the Yellowstone herd as pure as we can get? Probably, but not any more pure than my herd which has been tested by the same criteria. In fact it could be argued that our herd is purer - the Yellowstone herd was tested for the original 14 cattle gene markers. Our herd is tested with the new expanded marker set of 25.

        Fourth, the Minneapolis Zoo maintains they have the only "pure" bison in the country. Is this a fact or fiction? That would be fiction. There are not many pure herds or at least herds that have gone through the cost and test-cull necessary to become pure, but the Zoo certainly is not the only one. I know my herd is 100% pure (based on available technology) and I have the paperwork to prove it. Don't believe anyone without paperwork showing clean nuclear AND mitochondrial DNA.

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