Friday, July 1, 2022

LIC finds small-calf gene

A gene responsible for a number of unusually small calves which have been born in the New Zealand dairy cattle population over several decades has been discovered by Livestock Improvement (LIC) scientists.

Dairy farms commonly lose between 2% and 4% of calves each year for a variety of reasons and the dairy co-operative said this discovery was made as part of its ongoing research to understand whether there is a genetic basis to those losses.

It said the gene variation discovered explains a small proportion of those losses.

LIC believes the variation has existed in the dairy cow population for at least 40 years.

Its frequency is assessed to be 10% to 15% in the Holstein Friesian and half that in the crossbred populations.

Where both parents carry the variation there is a one in four chance that the progeny will be small.

LIC said the discovery was made in the last two weeks.

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