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New Genetic Defect Discovered in Holsteins

Holstein calves have recently been discovered to be demonstrating a new genetic defect. The USDA, university researchers, and dairy genetics companies are working together to tackle the defect, currently labeled a “Calf Recumbency.”

Affected newborn calves with the defect are characterized by being weak and unable to stand at birth or shortly after, while otherwise appearing healthy. Research by Dr. Chad Dechow at Penn State University showed that most of the calves his team studied with the defect did not survive beyond 6 weeks of age.

Dechow’s research has compared the genotypes of 18 affected and 26 unaffected calves, and determined the mutation that causes Recumbency is located on chromosome 16. They were able to identify the haplotype or segment of DNA that affects Recumbency, and found that all affected calves were homozygous for the gene, meaning they had inherited two copies of it – one from each parent.

May 2, 2023



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