Pinpointing the chromosomal location of the slick gene identified by usda-Agricultural Research Service scientists could help develop cattle with shorter, slick hair that helps keep them cool in subtropical heat. In central Florida, for example, excessive summer heat takes its toll on cattle, leading to reduced milk production. But the discovery of the slick gene by scientists at the ARS Subtropical Agricultural Research Station in Brooksville, Fla., should help deal with heat-related issues.

Studies there have shown slick-haired animals to have internal temperatures about 1 degree Fahrenheit lower during the summer than other cattle with normal hair coats. The researchers used genetic markers to identify Senepol bulls with the gene. Eventually, the gene could be moved into economically important breeds, such as Holstein, to improve heat tolerance.