Friday, July 29, 2011

Chasing Rabbits . . . Real or Imagined, Watch out for the Swing of the Axe

Well, it is a little hot around here to be thinking too hard about a blog that requires much actual thinking -- to be thinking really about much of anything except a little bit of rain.  We just thought it was dry a week or so back, now these sandy hills are really dry, the worst conditions of the summer so far. 

A little amusement seems a good idea this afternoon, so I thought I'd share this old story I ran across while continuing my genealogy research.  It made me laugh out loud, maybe it will you as well. It's about a colorful fellow from the pioneering days of our American history - Gideon Crews, Jr (1779-1859).  Oh for the days when there were actually plentiful rabbits in these East Texas woods for either man or dog to chase.........

Gid. Jr., in those days, at times liked a timely dram. Our mother used to tell us that he would come to her father's in a condition which made him merry and full of fun. The children would surround him when he was thus tipsy and ask him to tell them a story. Then he would tell them the story of the Irishman's dog, viz:
"One day there was an Irishman in the woods hewing with a broad-axe. His dog chased a rabbit. The rabbit came running right by where the man was hewing, and the dog in hot pursuit. The dog passed under the axe just as the man brought it down. It split the dog open from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. The man was distressed at the accident, but being an Irishman and quick witted, he snatched up both halves of the dog and slapped them together. The operation was so quick and the dog's blood so hot that the two parts stuck together and grew and the dog jumped out of his master's hand and renewed the chase and soon caught the rabbit. But the man in his haste to save the dog had made the mistake to turn two feet up and two feet down, and the dog found that he could run on two feet until they got tired and then whirl over and run on the other two, and so he could catch anything in the woods, and could run forever."


Friday, July 22, 2011

Louisiana & Mississippi in the early 1800's & Southern USA Migration Routes

Genealogy research has been occupying my time the past couple of weeks, and I've run across some things in regard to cattle and the land from the 19th century that are interesting.  Also, scroll down to find some good early migration route maps grouped all in one spot for easy reference in your research. 

The photo below is from a pretty neat old magazine article, published in 1892 in Scribner's Magazine, and entitled Cattle Trails of the Prairies, by Charles Moreau Hargar.  He describes with oftentimes vivid detail the experiences of the Texas cowboy on the long cattle drives north.  It is interesting to note that Mr. Hargar, as well as the observations of Mr. Darby in 1817 highlighted below, states clearly that the cattle were ready for market when they reached 4 years of age:

"After the young have been lassoed, held, and had their flesh burned with the red hot branding iron, leaving a scar in the form of a letter, figure, or combination design, that will last for life, they are turned loose, and no human hand is laid on them until they become "beeves", that is four years old and ready for market."


Below are some excerpts from a rather tedious old book published in 1817, that one can assume many would be emigrants read with interest, and it perhaps informed their decision as to where they ultimately wanted to travel, and how they wanted to make the journey.   Following these excerpts are several maps that I find of interest in my genealogy research, and think will be handy to have all in one place for reference, maybe you'll find them interesting as well.

Darby's Comment on the Spanish Cattle of Louisiana and Texas:

"The cattle, horse, and modes of managing, both came into Louisiana from the Spanish provinces in North America. The race of the domestic cow, so greatly multiplied in Opelousas and Attacapas, is high, clean-limbed, and elegant in its appearance. . . .

. . . The cow yields much less milk, and is of inferior quality, in all the southern parts of the United States, than in those more northern. This effect, generally acknowledged, has been ascribed to the greater richness of the pastures of the latter. How far this induction is correct, we are unable to determine, but feel inclined to consider this, like every other operation of the laws of Nature, who makes nothing in vain.

. . . Milk, though appropriated by man to his use, was formed to feed the young of the animal by which it is produced. Where abundant and succulent herbage every where abound, there is less occasion for the milk: consequently, upon the plains of Louisiana and Texas, the pendant udder, and high-boned, lank, and hollow appearance of the northern cow, is never seen. The cow of Louisiana and Texas has a vivacity and alertness that would almost bespeak them specifically different from the dull, phlegmatic animal of the same genus in more northern climates. The flesh of the cattle killed upon the prairie is often excellent. The feeding or salting of their stock is entirely neglected by most of the owners: the benefits arising from greater attention have, however, exhibited themselves wherever an experiment has been made."
". . . Four years old beeves, the ordinary age at which they are sold, will yield from fifteen to twenty dollars per head.  It will appear obvious from this statement, that though the emolument (fat) will accumulate slowly at first, its ultimate result is very considerable."

Darby's Louisiana & Mississippi Weather Observations:

"In the winter 1779-80, Bayou St. John was frozen for a considerable time; a phenomenon that did not again occur until 1814, in the latter end of December.  In ordinary seasons, the ponds and other stagnant waters as low as 30 N. lat. is seldom frozen, though few of any winters occur without frost at New Orleans.  There is much more difference in climate between Natchez (MISS) and New Orleans than could be expected from the relative positions of each.  Snow is frequent at Natchez, and often falls in considerable quantity. The orange tree and sugar cane are often destroyed by frost, even upon the shore of the gulf of Mexico.  At Natchez, the peach is rendered precarious from late frosts in the spring, at the latter place the cotton is often killed late in April."
Darby's Comment on the Pine Forests:

"In the pine forests the earth is every where covered with succulent grass, that affords excellent and abundant range for cattle. There are also found growing spontaneously several species of the papilionaceous flowering vegetables. . . Those pine tracts are also the seats of pure air, pure water, and health. The asperities of the soil are more than compensated by the absence of bilious and chronic diseases. If the inhabitant earns his bread with the sweat of his brow, he can eat and digest it with a vigorous stomach. "

Handy Maps for Genealogical Research:

Map of the states and territories of the United States as it was from 1820 to July 1821.  On July 10 1821, the Treaty of 1819 enters in to effect, settling all disputes with the Spanish colonies; the borders were defined in the west, and both Floridas were ceded to the United States, having been purchased as part of the treaty.  Author:   User:Golbez. Wikipedia

 Colonial Roads in the Southern United States.  NOTE: "Both the Upper Road, and the Fall Line Road ended at Macon, Georgia. In 1806 the federal government signed a treaty with the Creek Indians authorizing a "horse path" (mail route) through Indian land from Macon to New Orleans, Louisiana. The Creek Indians were postmasters along this extension to the west."  See a list of Major Historic Roads and Trails for additional information.

Map of the Old South Carolina State Road including connecting pathways.  The Old South Carolina State Road was opened to European settlers in 1747.  

Georgia Road (a.k.a. Federal Road) map from Athens, Georgia to Knoxville, Tennessee.  Georgia Road was a TOLL road that opened in 1805.  Also includes branches to Nashville, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama.  Note:  Present day Huntsville, Alabama area was 'Madison' county, the first established county on the northern border of Mississippi Territory in 1808, completely surrounded by Cherokee Nation lands.  Many later land migrations from SC and GA through the Mississippi Territory and on to Louisiana began along this "Old Federal Road". ( After improvements in 1819 it was renamed the Federal Road.")

More on the Federal Road:

"The major arteries of the East and North had connections that led to the Federal Road. Traders and light travelers from the North came down the Upper Road through the Piedmont into Georgia, then traveled over the postal horse path which had opened in 1806, through Athens, Watkinsville, and High Shoals, to meet the Federal Road at Columbus, Georgia. 

Many others used the somewhat easier Fall Line Road and then met the Federal Road, traveling through Georgia, from Augusta and through Warrenton, Sparta, Milledgeville, and Macon before reaching Columbus.  A portion of the Federal Horse Path to New Orleans ran through the West Florida panhandle, an area for which ownership was disputed by the Spanish and U.S. Governments. The alternate route to New Orleans was to travel past St. Stephens on the road to Natchez, then southwest to New Orleans." Genealogy Tutor .  See Timeline:  The Federal Road.
Source:  Beverly Whitaker 

Other Links:

Parish and county and territory boundaries were subject to lots of changes in the early years of the USA.  This web site provides maps for every year that saw changes in boundaries of counties and parishes, etc... You can visually see the changes from year to year, which is a great assist to genealogy work.  Look for the link to maps on the right side of most State pages:

Also see the USGenWeb Census Project for maps of census areas from the first U.S. census in 1790.

OLD COFFEE ROAD - Early route to Tallahassee, Florida

Old Coffee Road, Dates from 1823

Friday, July 15, 2011

Wild White Cattle & British White Cattle - Seasonal Grazing Habits

Over the past several years I have read many old articles and books from the 19th century that make reference to the "wild white cattle" of the British Isles.  One persistent observation that I've seen time and again is in regard to their grazing habits.  The description of the old grazing habits of the wild white cattle always gives me pause and I think of the similar behavior of my herd of quite domesticated British White cattle, descendants of the wild white cattle. 

What follows in an excerpt from a 1903 New Zealand newspaper article on the wild white cattle:

"Apropos of these wild white cattle, it is interesting to learn that in browsing on what may be described as their native wilds, they always keep close together, never scattering or straggling, a peculiarity which does not belong to any domesticated cattle. The wild cows are also remarkable for their systematic manner of feeding. At different periods of the year their tactics are different, but by those acquainted with their habits they are always found about the same part of the forest at the same hour of the day. In the height of summer they always bivouac for the night towards the northern extremity of their confines; from this point they start in the morning and browse to the southern extremity, and return at sunset to their old rendezvous, always feeding close together." (1)

J.West's Taylor Maid, with J.West's Lassie at foot on the first day of her life, October 8, 2010

For a fact, my herd of British White Cattle will be found in the northernmost 'confines' of their pasture in the early morning hours of the summer season, as well as bed down for the night in the most comfy spot in that area.  So regularly do they do this, that at one point in early summer we thought surely there must be a 'ghost' cow haunting the shoulder of the highway headed north. 

Several mornings over the course of a week I was called by various people who spotted a white cow on the highway on their way headed north to work.  Sometimes it was described as a cow, sometimes a yearling, and finally a baby calf as well.  Each time I would head out with my heart in my throat, as this is surely the worst fear I have -- a cow getting out and causing a car accident on the highway.  But each time, until the last time, there was no cow to be seen on the highway, no obvious breach in the fence, and the cows were already having breakfast as they strolled up toward the hill in a southerly direction.  I could only imagine it was an illusion of some sort, that a cow was standing right next to the fence and just appeared to be on the wrong side as cars sped by in the early morning hours. 

British White Heifer, J.West's Lassie, June 19th 2010

Finally the morning came when the Mayor's office called quite early with the alert that a baby calf was 'in' the highway.  We got there as fast as we could, and sure enough a young heifer calf was standing in the highway, quite content with exploring her curiosity about a dead skunk in the middle of the northbound lane of the highway.  And, no, I'm not making this up.  The heifer's name is now J.West's Lassie, and she is a little bitty girl even now, much less then, and she had just gone through the old fence to check out the smell of the dead skunk - or at least that's the best I can come up with psycho-analyzing her!

Another motorist had stopped and was calmly directing traffic around himself and the heifer (and the dead skunk) when we got there, and when faced with lots of humans quietly insisting she go back home -- she quite agreeably hopped back through the fence and joined the herd, and of course the herd moseyed on up the hill in a southerly direction as they always do. 

Once my cows discover something new that they find rather exciting -- they will do it again and again.  So that morning I moved the cow/calf herd out of that pasture to one of the interior pastures, and had no more morning phone calls of 'ghost' cow sightings.  We did add more fence stays to that section of fence, and shored up some unstable posts that had enough play in them that one of my precocious British White youngsters would do just that - 'play' with the play in the post, slipping through the barbed wire and escaping to the other side.

Besides the regular grazing movement of my whole herd at different times of day each season, my British White cow herd generally grazes as a group.  Now I would have never thought that was an unusual trait of cattle, but one can only assume it was considered unusual in the 19th and early 20th century based on the various old texts such as the excerpt cited above.  Apparently, this constant togetherness of a herd of cattle was not typical of domesticated cattle.  Is it now?  Maybe you can tell me what's typical of your cow herd.

Does your cow herd have definite grazing patterns each season?  Do they generally stay together, or do they scatter to the four winds over the course of the day?  Could this old observation of the 'wild white cattle' grazing habits as unique just be yet another myth repeated for over a hundred years that has become accepted as historical fact ?

(1)  Wild White Cattle, Otago Witness , Issue 2580, 26 August 1903, Page 64  Otago Witness, 1903

Friday, July 8, 2011

Tasty Texas Home Grown Tomatoes - A Summer Delight for the Tastebuds

The past couple of weeks I have thoroughly enjoyed about a dozen and more tomatoes from the Farmers Market in Lufkin, Texas - and I mean really enjoyed them.  They were so good you could just get all tomatoey biting right into the flesh and into the most incredible taste trip down memory lane.  Who cares if the tomato juice bleeds down your chin?  Nobody is looking, and sometimes it looks just too darn good to even take the time to slice it, not to mention that tasty tomato juice that would leak and waste on the cutting board.  Although, slice many of them I did for the best burger around -- a British White grassfed beef hamburger fresh off the grill with home grown tomatoes -- just so good it makes my mouth water thinking about those burgers.

Home Grown Tomatoes, Source: Flickr
We didn't always have fresh tomatoes when I was growing up, but I remember well the summers when we did, and enjoying them so very much.  It's not surprising kids these days don't much care for a lot of fruits and vegetables.  They don't taste the way they used to!  Heck, there are whole generations of young families out there whose parents are clueless about what a tomato ought to taste like.  Same goes for a home grown cucumber. 

I picked up a basket of fresh cucumbers as well, nice small ones, very tasty, and maybe I've invented a new way to eat a bacon and tomato sandwich.  I lengthwise sliced the cucumbers thinly and put them on several bacon sandwiches, along with those home grown tomatoes of course.  Talk about an explosion of flavors and an excellent lunch - I'll call it a BCT on Rye sandwich - it was unbelievably good eating. 

Most grocery store tomatoes may as well be considered a super distant cousin to a real home grown tomato ancestor.  The eating experience is just not the same.  One is more like a chilled pseudo tomato filler to a sandwich that might have a few of the vitamins within its skin that nature intended - along with far too many chemicals both within and without I'm quite sure. (Heads Up:  Canned tomatoes apparently are subject to far less pesticides and herbicides because they don't need to look as good or travel as far.)

Source: BudgetBytes
Have you ever wondered just why the tomato at the grocery store just doesn't measure up?  About two decades ago, I would put store bought tomatoes that were under ripe in a sunny window to finish ripening for several days - and the taste was vastly improved (though still not the true sweet pleasure of a home grown one).  These days, it just doesn't seem to work anymore. Well, perhaps we can chalk it up to progress.

"For the last 50 or more years, tomato breeders have concentrated essentially on one thing and that is yield — they want plants that yield as many or as much as possible," writer Barry Estabrook tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "They also want those fruits to be able to stand up to being harvested, packed, artificially turned orange [with ethylene gas] and then shipped away and still be holding together in the supermarket a week or 10 days later." (1)

I don't know about you, but it never never occurred to me that my tomatoes had been gassed to turn orange.  Or jeez, their DNA tinkered with to make them super sturdy thick-skinned growers and world travellers.  And just what kind of nutrition is in these frankenstein new tomatoes?

"My mother, in the '60s could buy a tomato in the supermarket that had 30 to 40 percent more vitamin C and way more niacin and calcium. The only area that the modern industrial tomato beats its Kennedy-administration counterpart is in sodium." (1)

I have an antique calorie and nutrition handbook, it's so old it must surely be a collectible by now.  I have to wonder if the nutrition profile of the tomato has been updated for the typical frankenstein tomato in modern calculations.

Just what is to become of the delectable tomato?  What is in store, literally, for the future?  I cringe at the thought of further progress in the planting, growing, harvesting - and let's not forget 'gassing' of the awesome tomato.

Perhaps our future tomato eating experiences are in the hands of youngsters today who have a love of growing things; who like the magic of planting a seed, nurturing it, and enjoying the natural gift of its flavor and texture.

Here is one youngster who has a very green thumb and a love for watching his efforts bear fruit; perhaps our future supper tables will be rescued by kids such as FarmerGrant, whose family has roots in Colmesneil, Texas. Grant has a great love of growing things, and he has several videos on YouTube that track the progress of his new backyard garden in the Houston area. The videos above are his garden early this summer and then in late June -- including lots of tomato plants.

Take a look at his other videos (or click on the YouTube icon in the bar at the bottom of the video above) that show the progress of his garden through the summer, and take the time to give him a thumbs up encouragement for his efforts.  He's also raising chickens for an FFA project, and has a pet rabbit that helps him out from time to time in his garden -- this remarkable young man will even break a sweat weeding! Now there's a rare youngster in America today. . .

(1)  How Industrial Farming 'Destroyed' the Tasty Tomato , by Barry Estabrook,  a former contributing editor at Gourmet magazine. He currently blogs at

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Microsatellite ETH10 Genotypes on Bovine Chromosome 5 in British White Cattle

J.West's King Cole,
ETH10 Genotype 217/221

The British White cattle breed has never enjoyed a close investigation of their genetic make-up so far as I know.  Several members of the BWCAA have accomplished DNA testing for a variety of carcass related traits with Pfizer and Igenity the past several years; but those results are animal specific and have not been examined or summarized by a research person or organization.  As well, many British White breeders have established a DNA profile for herd sires that is used for parent testing of their calves.  Those DNA profiles for parent testing currently identify 16 different microsatellite genetic markers of the individual animal.   

J.West's Tom Sawyer, ETH10 Genotype 217/219

Of those 16 different markers, one is referred to as ETH10, and is found in a particular gene on bovine chromosome 5.  That gene is referred to as the STAT6 gene.  The Red Angus study referenced here explores the correlation between certain ETH10 allelic sizes ( range is 199 to 225) and growth rates in cattle. My guess is this ETH10 marker is one of those evaluated by both Pfizer and Igenity when scoring for various carcass traits and potentialities of growth. 

The cattle used in this 2009 study were registered Red Angus, and this study makes reference to a prior one using registered Brangus cattle and correlating carcass yield and quality and birth weights with ETH10 genotypes.  Fortunately, I was able to locate this referenced Brangus study, and both studies are available online at the links provided at the end of this article.

J.West's Mazarati, Owned by Southern Cross Cattle,
ETH10 Genotype 217/217
What caught my attention when reading through the Red Angus study were the allelic sizes (they sounded like familiar numbers) that were correlating with higher 205 day weight, as well as the size or percent of longissimus muscles (LMs) compared to body weight (BW) and the percent of fat in the LMs of the Brangus cattle in the referenced 2008 study.  This 2009 study concluded that Red Angus cattle with both the 217 and 219 genotypes had higher weaning weights:
 ". . . Angus cattle with the 217/219 genotype tended to have 2.1% heavier . . . 205-day weight than other genotypes."  (1)
The Brangus 2008 study effectively correlated the 217/219 genotype (along with all 'large/large' genotypes) with greater carcass yield and quality as well:

The results from ETH10 typing can have a 'large' and 'large' designation; an example would be the 217 (large)/219 (large) genotype mentioned above in regard to the Angus cattle and 205 day weights.  In that instance the animal is heterozygous for the 217 and the 219 alleles.  The ETH10 can also have a homozygous result, such as the pair of 217/217 - another large/large.  In the 2008 Brangus study, allele types of 215 and less were designated 'small' and those 217 and above as 'large, thus 215/217 or 215/219 for example would be 'small/large'.

J.West's W.W. Doc, Owned by Halliburton Farms,
ETH10 Genotype 219/221 - Semen is available and cleared
for export to many countries on this mighty fine bull.
 ". . . cattle with the large/large genotype had approximately 5.1% greater . . . percent fat within LM and more LM per BW (body weight) than cattle with small/large or small/small genotypes."  (2)

BIRTH WEIGHTS & ETH10 GENOTYPES in British White Cattle

The 2008 Brangus study also found indicators for birth weight in the ETH10 genotypes.  It was concluded that 'small/large' genotypes had larger birth weights than animals with the 'large/large' genotype:
"Cattle with small/large genotype had (2%) heavier . . . birth weight than cattle of the large/large genotype . . ." (2)
Over the course of the past several years I've accumulated many DNA profiles on various cattle, both herd sires and females.  A review of those profiles for the presence of particular ETH10 marker types proved interesting.

CRAE215G, ETH10 Genotype 215/221

Of the 35 DNA profiles I have on file -- 23 of the profiles were 'large/large' genotypes, and 12 were 'small/large' genotypes.  Of those 12 'small/large' genotypes, 5 of them have the common ancestral cow, CRAE 215G, who carried the alleles 215/221.  As I have the DNA profile on her sire, Mr. NOY 1B, I can see that the CRAE cow received her 215 allele from her dam, MS NOY 8E, as her sire carried the markers 217/221, so MR NOY couldn't have given her the 'small' 215 allele.  What's notable here is that this CRAE cow did tend to have larger birth weights.  She was also a very big cow, one of the biggest cows I've ever had in pasture here.  I once thought the tendency for higher birth weights was due to her size -- that would appear to perhaps not be the case at all. 

Black Sapphire, ETH10 217/219
 An example of that would be J.West's Black Sapphire.  While she wasn't quite as tall as this CRAE cow, she was for sure as heavy, if not heavier.  Black Sapphire had average to small birth weights, and has the ETH10 alleles of 217/219, or 'large/large' as defined in the Brangus study referenced here.  Coincidentally, her sire was also MR NOY 1B. 

A look at 3 other animals in this group of 12 with the 'small/large' genotype reveals another ancestral clue.  All three of these British Whites track right back to the English bull Woodbastwick Randolph Turpin.  In all three instances it is clear that the dams did not carry the small genotype '215' and thus it was received from the Turpin bull.  While my experience with Turpin calves is limited, I do believe he tends to have larger than average birth weight calves.

But, before you get real negative on the 215 genotype, it is worth noting that the actual best result for Average Daily Gain was found in Red Angus cattle with the 215/217 genotype.  Follow the link below for the study and you'll find a chart on the last page with the actual results for several items, including the 205 day weight of 217/219 genotypes highlighted in the study's conclusions.

Let's jump back to the carcass and growth traits indicated by my little study of these 35 British Whites.  23 of the 35 British Whites have the 'large/large' genotypes, or ~66 %.  While I would like to see that percentage higher, it is still very supportive of the excellent carcass traits of the British White breed when you consider the negative skew from the single family line of CRAE 215G discussed above.

J.West's El Presidente, ETH10 Genotype 217/217
Of particular interest as well in comparing these study results is the high prevalence of allele 217 in this population of 35 British Whites.  The allele 217 was also the most prevalent in the Red Angus population of cattle, with about 75% being either heterozygous or homozygous to this allele.  In this population of 35 British Whites, 24 of them, or 69 %, had the allele 217, and it was as well the most prevalent ETH10 allele of these 35 British Whites. 

Also, the Red Angus study concluded that the best 205 day weights came from animals with the 217/219 pairing of alleles, but only 8.7% of the Red Angus had this pairing.  In this British White population, there are 6 animals with the 217/219 allele pairing, or 17%Of those, three are herd sires -- J.West's Tom Sawyer, J.West's S.S. Carter, and J.West's Blue Boy.  And one of them was a bull we butchered, J.West's Prime Dude, who had the biggest dinner plate ribeye area of any bull we've butchered, and very nice marbling on a grass diet as well.

In the Brangus study the most prevalent alleles (greater than 5%) in the population were 209, 211, 213, 217, 219, and 221.  The only 'small' allele in this British White population was the 215 genotype.   In the Red Angus study the most prevalent alleles were 215, 217, 219, 221, and 223.  In this population of 35 British Whites, 100% of the cattle had one or more of each of the most prevalent Red Angus allele genotypes with the exception of allele type 223.  In the Red Angus population studied there was an ~14% occurrence of the 223 allele. 

The breakdown of all ETH10 allele frequencies in this population of 35 British Whites is as follows:
Allele Type 215 - 34 percent
Allele Type 217 - 69 percent
Allele Type 219 - 31 percent
Allele Type 221 - 31 percent
The breakdown of all ETH10 allele pairings (which were the basis for the Red Angus study) is as follows:

Alleles 215/217 - 7 animals
Alleles 215/219 - 2 animals
Alleles 215/221 - 3 animals
Alleles 217/217 - 6 animals
Alleles 217/219 - 6 animals
Alleles 217/221 - 5 animals
Alleles 219/219 - 1 animal
Alleles 219/221 - 2 animals
Alleles 221/221 - 3 animals
These results indicate a very tight gene pool, or low diversity, for this marker in the British White breed here in the USA.  However, most of the DNA profiles I have on file were necessitated by embryo flushing, artificial insemination, as well as DNA profiling of herd bulls for subsequent parentage confirmation.  The DNA results from parent testing embryo donor cows and their subsequent calves place quite a skew on these results.  They account for 9 (from 2 family groups) of the British Whites in this population of 35. 
J.West's Elvis in 2005, ETH10 Genotype 217/221

It would appear that the greater the size of the ETH10 allele, the greater the marbling potential of a given animal.  But, that is an unscientific observation, merely one of inference from the various studies reviewed.  In the Wagyu breed there is a prevalence of the ETH10 allele 223, which is considered a source of that breeds renowned ability to marble. 
"Barendse (2002) reported an association between marbling score and ETH10 alleles in Wagyu cattle. In brief, the 223 allele was associated with higher marbling scores relative to the 217 allele." (2)

So, if you are a British White breeder out there with some curiosity about the ETH10 allelic markers in your cattle -- have a look.  If in fact your British White has the allele 223 or greater, or different alleles altogether, please be sure and let me know!

Update 7/6/11:  There are in fact family lines of British White cattle that have the 223 size allele at marker ETH10, and those lines include offspring of the full English bull, Woodbastwick Randolph Turpin.

So what is the conclusion here?  That is perhaps a puzzle if I've not succeeded in a clear presentation of the basic premise and results of these studies, and how the DNA data in these studies provides very positive correlation and support to the British White breed's comparable characteristics as to birth weights, carcass yield and quality, and growth rates to that of other desirable  bos taurus beef cattle breeds - such as Angus.  While we cannot fund our own DNA studies, we certainly can make use of studies of other bos taurus breeds originating in the United Kingdom in gaining better understanding of the genetics of the British White breed. 

It is a remarkable thing that we can pull some tail hair or send a straw of semen to a lab and get back 16 identified DNA markers of that animal along with confirmation of their parentage.  Even more interesting is just what can be found beyond parentage confirmation in the details of those specific 16 DNA markers. 
UPDATES 7/9/11: 

(1) The Simmental breed in Poland underwent microsatellite study in 2006, and it is interesting to note on page 4, Table 1 of that study that the ETH10  genotypes were of low diversity, with genotypes 217 and 219 accounting for 92% of all animals studied.  The genotype 217 accounted for 74% of the animals studied; 219 for 18%; 221 for 1.6%; 223 for 3.8% -- along with the 'small' genotye 215 accounting for 1.6%.

(2) The Blanco Orejinegro (BON) Columbian cattle breed has been the subject of DNA microsatellite marker study.  This 2009 study demonstrates that the BON breed  is predominantly the 'large' ETH10 genotypes.  It is interesting to note that none of those ETH10 genotypes are the same as those found in the Red Angus, Brangus, Simmental, or British White.  They are:  218 at 33.8%; 220 at 20.3%; 222 at 25.4%; 224 @11.8%; 226 at 3.3%; and the 'small' alleles of 216 at 3.3% and 214 at 1.6%.  (See March 2011 Blanco Orejinegro blog post for information about this interesting white cattle breed.)
(3) The bos indicus Nellore breed of Brazil, which has many characteristics similar to the bos indicus Brahman breed, has been the subject of DNA microsatellite marker study.  This 2006 study identified the ETH10 genotypes found in the Nellore breed, and they are largely of the 'small' type - including 49.6% with marker 209 and 34.5% with 207.  The Brangus study had a more significant frequency of 'small' type ETH10 markers, including marker 209 at 10%.

(4) Icelandic cattle were examined for microsatellite markers in 2008.  "The Icelandic cattle breed is the only cattle breed in Iceland and has been, more or less, isolated for over 1000 years; therefore it is considered a closed population."  This 2008 study (See Table 6, Page 25) identified the ETH10 genotype frequencies in Icelandic cattle.  The 'large' alleles measured were 217 at 6.6% of the population; 219 at 61.5%;  223 at 14.3%.  The 'small' alleles were 214 at 5.5% of the population, and 215 at 9.3%.

(5) Piedmontese, Maremmana, and Podolica were examined for microsatellite markers in 2003.  See 'Genetic Diversity between Piedmontese, Maremmana, and Podolica Cattle Breeds' .  The allele frequencies are charted in Table 1 .
(6) Fleckvieh, Charolais, and Simmental were examined in a 2010 study of cattle in the Czech Republic.  Utilization of a 17 Microsatellites Set For Bovine Traceability in Czech Cattle Populations .
(7) Bulgarian Grey Cattle were examined in a 2005 study.  Genetic Diversity in Bulgarian Grey Cattle As Revealed By Microsatellite Markers.

Original Studies Reviewed:


De Beauvoir's Huckleberry Finn on the Left with Gerald Fry,
This full English bull is possibly the ETH10 Genotype 217/221 or Homozygous 221/221,
but that's just a guess from looking at his offspring's DNA types.