Is water intake in beef cattle a heritable trait?

cattle water intake

MANHATTAN, Kan. — Water intake has not traditionally been considered a trait for genetic selection. While water may not be limiting in some environments, there are large portions of the U.S. where water availability and quality may be a limiting factor in production that could be alleviated through selection.

Megan Rolf, assistant professor of animal science at Kansas State University, will present a free webinar, “Is water intake a heritable trait?” at 10:00 a.m. (CST) on Tuesday, Feb. 19. The webinar is open to anyone Interested in learning more about water intake in beef cattle.

Water is an essential nutrient, but one that is often forgotten because it is not balanced for in a ration. According to Rolf, “We need a greater understanding of the amount of water consumed by different classes of animals, as well as more information about genetic correlations between traits to identify where potential antagonisms with other important production traits might exist.” 

Rolf was raised on a cow-calf operation in east-central Kansas and has been involved with livestock her entire life. She received a bachelor’s degree in animal science at Kansas State University and a master’s degree in animal science at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She earned her doctorate in genetics at the University of Missouri, where her research focused on the use of genomics in beef cattle.

Rolf joined the faculty at Kansas State University in 2016 as an assistant professor of animal breeding with a research and teaching appointment. She teaches genetics in the fall and maintains an active research program in the use of genomics for genetic improvement in livestock. Prior to coming to K-State, Rolf was an assistant professor and state extension beef specialist at Oklahoma State University.

The webinar is part of a monthly series hosted by Great Plains Grazing, a U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative-Coordinated Agricultural Project (USDA-AFRI-CAP) grant. The webinar series aims to provide research-based information and is targeted for producers and extension agents. Previous webinars are archived and available for viewing on the Great Plains Grazing website:

Interested individuals can register for the free webinar at:

Source: Kansas State University Extension