More than 100 young Angus and Hereford bulls are on a working vacation at 8,700 feet above sea level in northern New Mexico, chomping on lush, high-meadow grass, helping researchers and ranchers get a handle on a disease that causes 75,000 cattle deaths each year across the West, reports the Associated press.

In a study by New Mexico State University and the New Mexico Beef Cattle Performance Association, researchers are conducting high-altitude cattle performance testing on the bulls to determine which are susceptible to high altitude disease. The findings could help ranchers develop a genetic line of altitude-resistant cattle.

An estimated 1.5 million cattle are raised annually at high elevations in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico. High-altitude disease — essentially a bovine equivalent to human hypertension — impacts herds that graze above 5,000 feet.

The disease kills 3 percent to 5 percent of cattle each year, a loss valued at more than $60 million, said Tim Holt, veterinarian and professor at Colorado State University.

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