Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Door open to eradicating small-calf gene

As reported yesterday by the farmer co-operative Livestock Improvement (LIC) has used DNA sequence technology to discover a recessive small calf gene.

Acting LIC chief executive David Hemara said the discovery opens the door to managing Small Calf Syndrome (SCS) out of the dairy industry.

“This is an important discovery. Identifying the gene means we can start managing a problem which has existed on farms for decades,” Hemara said.

The SCS affects predominantly Holstein Friesian and a lesser number of crossbred animals.

Hemara said LIC’s large genetics database and ongoing research programme enabled the co-operative to go back 30 years to screen the DNA of LIC’s bulls and beyond that through pedigree records.

“That research suggests the genetic variation existed in the early 1960s and possibly before then. We can’t be sure of when or where it started.

“Our programme of gene discovery and DNA sequencing is improving our ability to isolate negative genes. This is a good thing for the dairy industry.”

Eradicating the genetic variation from the national herd is a priority for genetics companies and CRV Ambreed chief executive Angus Haslett said the discovery is very important to all New Zealand breeding companies and farmers.

“Over the years a number of genetic variations have been discovered and managed out of the industry and this will be no different. CRV Ambreed will work with LIC to manage this genetic variation so its impact is minimised on NZ farms in the future,” Haslett said.

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Related story: LIC finds small-calf gene

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