You are here: News > Insights

You are viewing 1 of your 2 free articles

You’ll need to join us by becoming a member to gain more access.
Already a Member?

Login Join us now

German scientists discover gene linked to calf mortality


A group of German research scientists recently discovered a new haplotype within the Holstein breed. Unlike previous haplotypes impacting on fertility, this genetic anomaly is associated with calf survival within the first few months of life. Bruce Jobson reports.

Twitter Facebook

The recently discovered haplotype in Holsteins has been labelled the haplotype associated with cholesterol deficiency (HCD), and the genetic anomaly has been found to be associated with calf survival. For animals which inherit the undesirable gene from both sets of parents, this results in prolonged incidences of diarrhoea which is untreatable, as well as other illnesses.


The examination of blood Analysis has shown the specific undesirable gene traces back to Canadian bull Maughlin Storm. samples from affected calves showed a cholesterol deficiency which prevented the normal deposition of fat in body tissue. Over the course of several months, the affected calves lost all body reserves and event- ually died.


German scientists established the inheritance pattern and gene location being on chromosome 11. The specific gene has not as yet been located but a series of SNP genomic tests (known as a haplotype) has identified the inheritance within the genotypes of carrier animals.



Pedigree analysis of carrier animals has shownthe relationships trace back to Canadian bull Maughlin Storm as the oldest common genotyped sire (born in 1991). Owing to the immense popularity of Storm on a global basis, his genes were discovered in Germany, according to Canadian Dairy Network (CDN) general manager Brian Van Doormaal.


He says: “Storm has numerous sons, grandsons widely spread and hence and great grandsons in AI and the negative impact of this genetic anomaly, namely early calf death, only occurs for calves that inherit the gene from both parents.


This happens when two descendants of Storm are mated together and, as has been proven, this can take multiple generations of breeding to discover.


“Now this undesirable anomaly has been identified, an industry effort can easily be made to reduce the frequency of carrier matings. Any negative impact of these genetic anomalies can be eliminated by avoiding the mating of carrier sires to carrier females, and this can be best achieved by using computerised mating programmes.”

Mark Anthony

The haplotype identified in Storm and his descendants also exists in Willowholme Mark Anthony (born in 1975), although this bull does not carry the specific undesirable gene.


The presence of the common haplotype stems from the fact Mark Anthony’s sire, Fairlea Royal Mark, is also the great maternal grandsire of Storm. The anomaly appears to have occurred in the transmission of genes from Royal Mark, down through three generations to Storm, resulting in a form of mutation.


However, without knowing the exact gene, the only available tool for identifying carriers is by using the defined haplotype. This means animals with Storm and Mark Anthony in their pedigree may be falsely identified as carriers of the undesirable gene.


An animal designated by CDN with a dis- played probability of 99% identifies animals expected to have a ‘carrier’ status. A designation of 1% indicates an animal has been identified as ‘free’ based on the haplotype analysis. Animals not genotyped will receive an estimated ‘carrier probability’ on a similar scale, varying from 99% to 1% depending on the probability values of parents and relatives.


Storm grandson, Dudoc Mr Burns (see table), carries the haplotype with the undesirable gene from Storm as well as the haplotype sourced through Mark Anthony. According to Mr Van Doormaal, genotyping Mr Burns’ progeny will not lead to conclusive results regarding the carrier status of the undesirable gene.


HCD Carrier Sires with more than 5000 registered daughters born in Canada



Great Grandsons

September Storm




Final Cut






Mr Burns





Twitter Facebook
Rating (0 vote/s)
Post a Comment
To see comments and join in the conversation please log in.

More Insights

Livestock and vegetables are a good mix for Suffolk farm business

Dorset sheep, pigs and beef cattle play an integral part in the sustainability of intensive vegetable production for one farming enterprise in Suffolk. Jennifer McKenzie reports.

Handy Hints: Tackling weeds in grassland

Keeping on top of grassland weeds can be frustrating. Chloe Palmer seeks the best advice for minimising weed incidence and effective control.

New entrants hatch successful Happy Hen enterprise

First-generation farmers Alaistaire and Fiona Brice started their free-range egg business in 2003 with just 300 hens in a converted pig hut on rented land. Since then they’ve expanded their flock hugely and created a successful brand supplying 740,000 eggs a week to more than 600 retailers across the region. Clemmie Gleeson finds out more.

Tackling lameness brings other benefits for Welsh sheep producer

Using the five-point sheep lameness reduction plan has helped Welsh sheep farmer improve productivity. Farmers Guardian reports.

Market Profile: Skipton market thriving in heart of Yorkshire

Focusing on customer service while always keeping an eye to the future in terms of innovation, professionalism and business development, is key to the success of Skipton market. Angela Calvert reports.
FG Insight and FGInsight.com are trademarks of Briefing Media Ltd.
Farmers Guardian and FarmersGuardian.com are trademarks of Farmers Guardian Ltd, a subsidiary of Briefing Media Ltd.
All material published on FGInsight.com and FarmersGuardian.com is copyrighted © 2016 by Briefing Media Limited. All rights reserved.
RSS news feeds