Vitulus Gorgeous Red show

Vitulus Gorgeous Red and her calf Lollipop Red winning the Small Breeds Interbreed Royal Toowoomba Show 2016. This cow also won Grand Champion Female at Royal Brisbane, Canberra and Toowoomba previously.

Vitulus is the largest breeder and has the most genetically diversified red genetics in Australia as our herd consists of animals with both the wild allele and the true red gene.  The Ausline Cattle Assoc incorporates the Fullblood RedLine which are all fully traceable and DNA typed to the original Trangie and Glen Innes Angus herds. They are the only Association in Australia able to accept or have Vitulus Red animals fully registered.

Vitulus Genetics:
Our Red animals have already won significant Royal show championships and Royal Interbreed championships. Initially after isolating the wild allele, IMG_2596which already occurred in the Lowline herd, Vitulus was able to join wild allele carrying animals to wild allele carrying animals and thus produce a red animal. Since then we have gone to expand our gene pool and include the true red genes. Whilst the Australian Lowline Cattle Association will not accept the red cattle or has a register the American Lowline Registry and the Australian Ausline Cattle Association Inc does which means that all our Red animals are recorded and registered either in the Ausline herdbook and/or the USA herd book. We have a developed a number of markets for the our red genetics both here in Australia and also for export. They are  much better suited to the tropical climates.

The True Red Gene: Now for some really exciting news. Vitulus has been breeding red genetics and developing genetic diversity for the last 15 years. Most of our red genetics are from wild allele carriers but more recently Vitulus has isolated another genetic red line.. This time the animals identified are true red gene carriers, not wild allele carriers.  So after 10 years of herd testing we have finally proven that the true red gene does exist in, what would now seem, to be quite a large number of Foundation animals. This is such a break through for us and is a very significant finding. This would make sense as Trangie did have some red angus in their herd.  The bull’s name is Vitulus Has to be Red and is listed in the Ausline database. His semen has been exported and is stored in the USA. This is in addition to the true red carrier bull Alta Demolition whose semen we imported from Canada. More recently we have acquired some females with the true red gene as well.

Vitulus Has to Be Red 3

Vitulus was the first stud in the world to export Red Lowlines to the USA with Vitulus Awesome Red semen arriving in early 2007. This was soon followed by our first shipment of live animals arrived including a red heifer and bull. Vitulus Brilliant Red, Vitulus Red Baron and Vitulus Branded Red were included.
Vitulus Has to Be Red EDe

Why Red?
Red is the most populous colour of cattle breeds worldwide. Red is more heat tolerant than black. The majority of the world’s cattle are in areas that need heat tolerance, so the red colour is definitely an advantage. Red gives greater resistance to eye cancer and sun burned udders.Gotta Be Red PaddockGotta Be Red 2014

Vitulus Gotta Be Red E+E+ Winner of 4 Royal Grand Championships.  As one of Australia’s leading seedstock producers, Mr Alistair Bassingthwaighte said “he is the best small breed bull I have ever seen”

Carcass Wins for the Red Genetics:

  • 2014: Ausline wins Reserve Champion Lightweight Carcass. To continue on is our success we won our 5th Carcass championship at the Royal Brisbane Show again in 2014. Another red another win! More details about this steer on news page.
  • 2011: RedLine Wins Champion Lightweight Led Steer. What a start for this new breed winning Champion Lightweight Led Steer at the Royal Brisbane Show 2011. The 16th month old 50% RedLine, 25% Murray Grey and 25% Limousin cross steer won the 325 to 350kg class and then went onto win Champion Lightweight Led Steer.

Vitulus sold its first RedLine progeny for export..the first red lowlines to the USA
Once the new export protocol to the USA was developed Vitulus was able to sell cattle directly to those countries. This enabled those American breeders wanting to show quality fullblood red lowlines because the first two progeny ( a heifer and bull) that were exported by Vitulus to Amercia were shown in 2008, 2009 and 2010. A second  shipment was sent in 2011. It seems even the American scientists are recomending the breed as I received an email from the USA enquiring about the RedLine explaining their reason for thier interest: “I asked a friend of mine who is a reproductive physiologist, what would be the best beef cattle breed from the sub-tropical climate in Florida. She told me to go with the Australian Red Lowlines” .

RedLine embryos
In a world first Vitulus Stud was able to flush a red Ausline cow to a red Ausline bull. All embyros were sold to the USA and all produced red calves.   RedLine made it debut at Beef 2006 winning Reserve Calf Champion in Boutique Breeds

Red vs. Black Genetics

We have both the wild allele and the true red gene in our breeding program. The link below will demonstrate the probabilities of the different genetics and how to produce red animals.

Red Genetics Probabilty Chart

Red and black are probably the two most common coat colors in cattle. They occur as an either/or in breeds such as Angus and Holstein. In other breeds, modifier genes change the shades of these colors to a much wider range of possibilities. Red is more popular in some countries and black in others but both are common throughout the world.

All animals, including people, carry two copies of each gene-one from the mother and one from the father. These genes are unique sequences of DNA, each of which codes for a unique protein. Changes in the DNA code (called mutations) changes the structure of the protein produced by the gene and as a result change the way the protein works. When an animal has two different copies of a gene they are said to be Heterozygous for the gene and if one copy is hidden by the other, the hidden copy is said to be Recessive. If both copies of a gene are the same then the animal is Homozygous.

The gene causing red/black is the Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone Receptor Gene (MSHr), also called the Melanocortin Receptor 1 gene (MC1r). This gene has two common alleles ED and e. In addition, a less common allele, E+, also called “wild type” occurs. When ED is present in an animal, it is black. This is the dominant allele in the series. Cattle that are ee are red and this is the recessive genotype.

However E+ appears to be a “neutral” allele in most breeds and we think ED E+ cattle are black and E+e cattle are red. E+E+ cattle can be almost any color since other genes take over in dictating what pigments are produced, such as the Agouti locus.

Given the diversity of colours seen in all breeds of cattle, many people are surprised that there are just two different pigments that produce all of the hair colours in cattle (and for that matter, all mammals). These two pigments are eumelanin (black) and Phaeomelanin (red). Eumelanin is a black pigment, but also looks brown or grey in lower concentrations. Phaeomelanin is a red pigment, but can look orange or yellow in lower concentrations. If neither pigment is produced, then hair is white. The distribution of these two pigments is controlled by a large number of different genes, which makes the inheritance of the two pigments somewhat complex.

The best-studied gene related to colour is the gene that controls the relative degree of eumelanin and Phaeomelanin production. This gene (known as the Extension gene) regulates the levels of an enzyme called tyrosinase. Low levels of tyrosinase result in Phaeomelanin (red pigment) production, and high levels of tyrosinase result in production of eumelanin (black pigment). The wild aurochs of Europe (the ancestors of Texas Longhorns, as well as other breeds of Bos taurus) are thought to have had a single common allele for this gene, which is referred to as the “wild-type” allele. The wild-type allele results in variable but typically intermediate amounts of tyrosinase. This means that both eumelanin and Phaeomelanin are produced, and the ratio and distribution of the two pigments may be modified by other genes. Longhorns that have two copies (one from each parent) of the wild-type allele at the Extension gene are typically some shade of reddish brown at birth, but often grow darker as they grow older (and may appear black as adults). The relative expression of eumelanin appears to be related to the sex of the animal, and males (with wild type alleles at the Extension gene) are more likely to be black as adults than are females. However, the muzzle ring of these individuals is usually light tan or brown rather than pure black (this is often called “mealy-mouthed,” because it looks as if the animals have been eating corn meal). Other individuals with the wild-type allele may be dark brown (including Parker brown), medium brown, or a mixture of brown and black or red and black (and many of the other unusual colourations of cattle breeds).

There are two well-studied alleles (forms of a gene) that differ from the wild-type allele at the Extension gene in cattle. These alleles resulted from small mutations in the DNA sequences for this gene that were selected by early humans during the domestication of cattle (probably to make breeds more distinguishable). Mutations in DNA can take several forms, including substitutions (replacing one “letter” in the DNA sequence with another) and deletions (removing a letter from the sequence). Substitutions often change the function of a gene, but may not render it functionless. Deletions, on the other hand, often destroy the function of a gene. One of the alleles at the Extension gene differs from the wild-type allele by a single substitution. This simple change results in a small change in function, which in turn results in an excess production of black pigment in skin and hair cells. Because the hairs have an excess of eumelanin, any coloured hairs will be black at birth (other genes may keep some of the hairs from expressing any pigment, so the calf is often black and white). Even if a calf inherits just one copy of this allele, almost any hair that is pigmented will be coloured black. Thus, if a bull (or cow) has inherited copies of this black allele from both its mother and its father, then all of its own offspring will also express black (no matter what gene is inherited from the other parent). This is how some breeders can guarantee that their bulls will always produce calves with black coloration: the bull has been tested and found to be homozygous for the black allele at the Extension gene (which simply means that both of its copies of this gene are the dominant black allele).

The other common allele at the Extension gene in cattle is a deletion mutation (a single nucleotide has been lost), which results in a non-functional gene. If an animal has two copies of this allele, then that animal lacks the ability to produce eumelanin. Phaeomelanin (red pigment) is still produced, however, so any pigmented hairs have a basic red coloration. If an animal has only one copy of the red allele and one of the wild-type allele, then there is still enough tyrosinase produced for the coloration to appear just like a homozygous wild-type individual (i.e., some mixture of black and red pigment, but typically darkening with age, especially in males). Thus, the wild-type allele is said to be dominant over the red allele, since an animal with both alleles will show the wild-type coloration. On the other hand, the black allele is dominant over both the wild-type and red alleles, since even one copy will result in an over-abundance of eumelanin. Therefore, a cow or bull that is black at birth may be homozygous black, or heterozygous black and wild-type, or heterozygous black and red (any of these combinations will simply look black). A calf with wild-type coloration may be homozygous wild-type, or heterozygous wild-type and red, will be red. Finally, a true red calf is always homozygous for the red allele.

The “black” allele is abbreviated ED (the E stands for Extension, and the subscript D stands for dominant black), the wild-type allele is abbreviated E+ (the superscript + symbol is used to designate the wild-type allele at any given gene), and the red allele is abbreviated e (lower case is used to indicate that this allele is recessive to the other two alleles). Geneticists usually indicate the dominance order of these three alleles by writing ED > E+ > e. With this shorthand, we can indicate a homozygous black bull by writing that its genotype is ED / ED, whereas as heterozygous wild-type/red bull would be said to have the genotype E+ / e. – July 2005 – July 2005