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I
F E D E R A L

Vol. 9, No. 6

I

NEWS LETTER

R E S E R V E

B A N K

OF

D A L L A S

DALLAS, TEXAS

June 15, 1954

What Do We Know About Dwarfism in Cattle?
The occurrence of dwarf animals in both as color and height. These bits of living mat­
registered and commercial cattle herds is an ter always occur in pairs, one of each pair
economic, as well as a breeding, problem of coming from each parent.
the cattle industry.
Recessive genes are so named because they
Dwarf animals, which may be only about have little or no influence on the animal or
one-fourth the size of normal animals and plant unless both genes of the pair are reces­
seldom reach maturity, sometimes make up 2 sive. This fact means that both the dam and
or 3 percent of the calf crop and, theoretically, the sire must carry the recessive characteristic
could account for as high as 25 percent in ex­ in order to produce dwarf calves. Stated an­
treme cases. Because of their small size, they other way, if the herd sire is dwarf-free (does
have no economic value and represent a com­ not carry the gene for dwarfism), none of the
calves will be dwarfs, even though the cows
plete loss to the rancher.
are not dwarf-free.
No major cattle breed or line of breeding is
An animal that is entirely normal but car­
known to be free of dwarfs. The incidence of
dwarfism in beef cattle has increased in the ries in its hereditary make-up the recessive
past 10 to 15 years, perhaps because in select­ gene for dwarfism is commonly referred to as
ing breeding stock that is blocky in conforma­ a “carrier of dwarfism.” This means that it has
tion, breeders inadvertently have chosen the potential capacity, if mated with another
animals carrying the potential for dwarfism. carrier, for producing dwarf animals.
If a sire that carries the recessive character­
istic for dwarfism is mated with dwarf-free
dams, one-half of the calves will be carriers
and one-half, dwarf-free. If both the sire and
the dam are carriers, half of their offspring also
will be carriers, 25 percent will be dwarfs, and
25 percent, dwarf-free. These percentages will
not hold exactly true for a small number of
animals, but for any large group they will be
The dwarf characteristic appears to be approximately correct.
transmitted from one animal to another by one
These figures emphasize the importance of
or more recessive genes. Genes are the tiny
parts of each living cell that give to a plant using only dwarf-free sires. However, the prob­
or an animal its physical characteristics, such lem of proving that a bull is dwarf-free may

Research indicates almost conclusively that
the occurrence of dwarf animals is due to in­
herited characteristics. It has not been pos­
sible to establish that feeding or the care of
breeding stock has any influence on dwarfism,
although the abnormalities of dwarf animals
resemble those of animals with certain dietary
deficiencies.

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AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

be a long and expensive one. If a dwarf calf is
born, it is certain that both the sire and the
dam are carriers. But, carriers may be in the
herd for years without producing any dwarf
calves.

It would be foolish, however, to disregard all
other traits in the attempt to control dwarfism.
The problem does not warrant an all-out
cleanup campaign. A breeding program that
deals with the problem of dwarfism while con­
tinuing to build high-quality, fast-gaining beef
One of the quickest ways of testing a bull animals is a sensible approach to the situation.
for dwarfism is mating him with cows which
are known carriers (those which have dropped
Gin Trash in Steer-Fattening
dwarf calves). If the bull also is a carrier, oneRations
fourth of the calves from the mating could be
dwarfs; if he is not a carrier, none of the calves
Gin trash, another roughage for steer-fatten­
will be dwarfs. In practical application, if 16 ing rations, was tested by the Texas Agricul­
normal calves are dropped from matings to tural Experiment Station at its El Paso Valley
carrier cows, the chances are 99 in 100 that Experiment Station, near Ysleta, Texas, in
the sire is dwarf-free.
1953.
Results of the tests indicate that gin trash
valued at $12.50 per ton (largely the cost of
hauling and grinding) compares favorably
with cottonseed hulls as a roughage in the
ration for fattening steers. The steers fed the
ration containing gin trash gained somewhat
slower but, from the standpoint of cost, made
more economical gains than those fed a ration
containing cottonseed hulls for the principal
roughage.
Research specialists have found that by
drawing profiles of the heads of suspected ani­
trash varies a great deal in its physical
mals and comparing them with the profiles of andGinchemical
composition, depending upon
normal animals, they are able to detect carriers the type of cotton ginned, location, and the
with reasonable accuracy. This method of diag­ season of the year. The gin trash used in these
nosis has been especially successful with tests consisted of 66,1 percent burs and stems,
mature, horned Hereford bulls. It has been less 5.8 percent lint, 5.8 percent immature cotton­
successful with other breeds and with younger seed, and 22.3 percent fine trash, dirt, and
bulls and cows.
other material. The chemical composition was
as follows: Crude protein, 7.70 percent; fat,
Ranchers who face the problem of dwarfism 1,65 percent; crude fiber, 27.91 percent; and
in their herds are urged to keep careful breed­ other materials, 62.74 percent. The fattening
ing records and to mark all cows that have ration contained ground sorghum grain, cotton­
dropped dwarf calves. As mentioned, these seed meal, ground alfalfa hay, and ground gin
cows, because they have produced dwarf trash or cottonseed hulls.
calves, are proved carriers of dwarfism and
can be used to test young bulls to determine
Specialists conducting these tests conclude
if they also carry dwarf-producing genes. Thus, that ground gin trash may be used to replace
these proved carrier cows can be valuable test cottonseed hulls in combination with alfalfa
animals. Breeders also should study pedigrees hay in rations for fattening steers. The finan­
carefully and attempt to eliminate bloodlines cial advantage of ground gin trash will depend
that have produced a considerable number of on the relative prices of the different roughdwarf animals.
ages and the seed content of the gin trash.

A recent release by the United States De­
partment of Agriculture discusses a new
technique that may be helpful in reducing or
eliminating dwarf carriers from herds. The
abnormalities of dwarf calves include a broad,
short face, bulging forehead, and stunted
growth, and carriers sometimes have slight
bulges in their foreheads.

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

3

Summer Grasses for South Texas Honeybees Aid Cotton Production
The honeybee — well known as an aid in
Two relatively new warm-season grasses
gave the best results in tests at the Texas Agri­ pollinating legumes, fruit trees, and other plant
cultural Experiment Substation in Dimmit species that rely upon cross-pollination —
may play an important role in the production
County, Texas, in 1952 and 1953.
of cotton.
Of the nine grasses tested, guinea grass was
Tests at the South­
highest in yield of forage, giving more than 15
western Bee Culture
tons of air-dry hay per acre in 1953. Coastal
L ab oratory of the
Bermuda grass was second, with a yield of just
United States Depart­
under 14 tons per acre. Blue panic grass gave
ment of Agriculture at Tucson, Arizona, indi­
11.5 tons, and buffel grass, 11 tons.
cate that pollination within the cotton bloom
Other grasses included in the tests were is aided by bees, even though the cotton bloom
Rhodes, Australian beard, Angleton, birdwood, is self-fertile and does not rely on pollinating
and Dallis. In 1953, yields of these grasses agents, such as insects, to bring pollen from
ranged from 5 to 9 tons per acre. All grasses other blooms.
in the tests were grown under irrigation.
Yields of lint and seed were increased sub­
A comparison of average yields for 1952 and stantially when bees were permitted to work
1953 indicates a similar ranking of the grasses the cotton blooms. Without bees, only 29 per­
from the standpoint of yield, although buffel cent of the early blooms developed into bolls;
grass gave the highest yield during the first with bees, 48 percent became bolls.
year.
On the basis of protein content, blue panic
grass was highest, with an average protein
Milk that is exposed to sunlight for only 30
content of 18.23 percent. Guinea grass was minutes may lose all of its Vitamin C and 20
second, with 15.96 percent, and Coastal Ber­ percent of its Vitamin B. Exposure to sunlight
muda was third, with 15.25 percent. All grasses also may cause undesirable flavors to develop.
were graded fair to good in phosphoric acid
content except guinea grass, which was sub­
stantially higher than the others.

Plastic-Coated Picksacks
Specialists conducting the tests list guinea,
Coastal Bermuda, blue panic, and buffel as the
grasses best adapted to the sandy soils of the
Cotton picksacks with a plastic coating to
south Texas area.
make them last longer are recommended by
the National Cotton Council, This relatively
new plastic coating is a substitute for asphalt,
which has been used for many years to increase
the wearing quality of picksacks.
Everybody loses from forest fires! There­
However, the tar from the asphalt coating
fore, it is everyone’s job to help prevent this
loss by following such precautions as break­ is a problem to the ginner and spinner, as it
ing matches before throwing them away, frequently becomes mixed with the seed cot­
burying cigarette butts and pipe heels, dous­ ton. Small particles of the asphalt even find
ing campfires with water, and being ex­ their way into the finished cotton goods, caus­
ing spots that will not take dyes.
tremely careful with trash fires.

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

4

Hot Weather Makes Chickens
Lazy, Too

8s M. College.

Chickens will not drink
sufficient water in hot
weather if they have to
move more than 10 feet to
a water fountain, says E. D.
Parnell, professor of poul­
try husbandry at Texas A.

hence, marketing can be extended virtually
throughout the year.
Louisiana State University specialists urge
sweet potato growers to clean out their storage
houses as soon as last year’s crop is sold. All
rotten potatoes and trash should be removed.
After cleaning the house, the walls, floors, bins,
and crates should be sprayed with a mixture
of DDT and bluestone, using 4 pounds of 50percent wettable DDT and 2 pounds of bluestone to 50 gallons of water.

Growers who do not have adequate storage
Mr. Parnell points out that fresh, cool water
is essential for maximum egg production or facilities available for this year’s crop should
for rapid growth of broilers. He advises poul- investigate the possibility of constructing such
trymen to provide plenty of waterers and keep houses on their farms.
them well cleaned during the summer months.

Endrin — A New Insecticide
One of the latest insecticides developed for
control of cotton insects is endrin. Entomolo­
gists report that it comes very close to being
an all-purpose cotton insect control material.
A close chemical relative to dieldrin, endrin
is now widely used to control bollworms, boll
weevils, thrips, cotton leafworms, cotton fleahoppers, and lygus bugs. It will not control
pink bollworms, aphids, and spider mites.
Endrin is included in the recommended in­
secticides for controlling cotton insects in most
states. As is the case with respect to other in­
secticides, users should follow closely the direc­
tions of the manufacturer. The material is toxic
to human beings and other warm-blooded
animals.

Storage Houses Profitable for
Sweet Potatoes
The use of storage houses for sweet potatoes
has increased rapidly in recent years and has
done much to stabilize the marketing phase of
the industry. Properly stored sweet potatoes
will maintain their quality for several months;

Publications

Texas Agricultural Experiment Station, Col­
lege Station:
Texas Watermelon Variety Trials, 1951-53,
Progress Report 1645, by H, C. Mohr and
others.
Influence of Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Po­
tassium on the Yield of Sweet Potatoes
on Hockley Fine Sandy Loam Soil, Prog­
ress Report 1646, by J. M. Coruthers and
D. R. Paterson.
Beef Cattle Management on Brazos River
Bottomland, Miscellaneous Publication
103, by F. A. Wolters and others.
Control of Insects and Diseases Attacking
Peaches in East Texas, Progress Report
1656, by D. R. King and H. F. Morris,
Grain Sorghum Fertilizer Trials in South
Texas, 1953, Progress Report 1655, by
Flake L. Fisher and others.
Copies of these bulletins may be obtained
by request to the publishers.
The Agricultural News Letter is prepared in
the Research Department under the direction
of Carl H. M oore, Agricultural Economist.