Second genetic defect found in Angus breed

29 Apr, 2009 02:29 PM
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A SECOND genetic defect has been discovered in the Angus cattle breed.

Called Neuropathic Hycrocephalus (NH), the defect causes an extremely large cranium with little or no brain and spinal chord present.

Dr Jonathan Beever of the University of Illinois performed tests in late February from samples submitted to him from artificial insemination (AI) organisations and confirmed the defect was based on the result of a recessive mutation residing within a gene involved in the development and maintenance of the central nervous tissue.

All NH-affected calves have been traced back to the common ancestor GAR Precision 1680 who has been confirmed to be heterozygous for the mutation.

Tests conducted by Dr Beever on 934 AI sires have revealed 10 per cent were found to be carriers of NH. A number of prominent AI sires used in Australia have been detected as carriers of the mutation.

Angus Australia president Brian O’Sullivan said there was little call for alarm and it was important to keep perspective.

“If you realise there are hundreds of thousands of Angus breeding females in Australia and there have only been one or two calves affected on two properties in Australia,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

The Australian cases were detected quite recently, Mr O’Sullivan added.

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