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Texas A&M partners to help Texas ranchers


Investigating around 1,000 agricultural crime cases and recovering an average of $5 million in stolen cattle and assets for ranchers each year, the Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association (TSCRA) works hard "to honor and protect the ranching way of life."
In times of need, Dr. James Derr, professor at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences (CVM), and his genetics lab recently developed a partnership with the TSCRA to provide DNA Forensics Collection Kits and DNA testing services - parentage determination, DNA fingerprints, and individual cattle identification tests - for all 29 TSCRA Special Rangers.
The TSCRA DNA Forensics Collection Kit includes all of the required supplies needed to collect and document genetic samples from cattle, such as gloves, hair follicle envelopes, pliers, cotton swabs, FTA whole blood cards and instructions on how to collect and preserve DNA evidence. This ensures that all rangers are equipped with the tools and knowledge to provide Derr with the proper evidence so he can perform the necessary testing to help ranchers retrieve their stolen cattle, identify individual animals from a herd and determine correct parentage of undocumented animals.
"This new relationship allows us to provide a service to the citizens of Texas," Derr said. "The CVM is the perfect place to provide this service because Texas A&M University is recognized as a leader in cattle genomics and genetics."
For approximately 10 years, Derr and his team have been performing parentage and animal ID testing for owners of bison and cattle. His lab recently started receiving cases to help identify livestock theft through forensic testing.
"TSCRA is excited to partner with TAMU to add to our efforts of solving cattle theft cases," said Larry Gray, TSCRA executive director of law enforcement. "TSCRA Special Rangers utilize DNA testing in many cases to identify ownership of stolen cattle, and TAMU services will allow us to continue to do this effectively."
"Part of my responsibility as an educator and geneticist is to be a champion of our science," Derr said. "We are using science to build relationships that will further help the citizens of Texas."