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.