Bovine DNA Testing

Polled

€50 per animal including 13.5% VAT

10% discount for batches of >10

The persistent horns are an important trait of speciation for the family Bovidae with complex morphogenesis taking place briefly after birth. Nowadays, commercial dairy or beef herds are mainly confined to barns or fenced-in enclosures such as pastures or corrals. Under these conditions horns are not only of little value but can lead to considerable economic loss due to a higher risk of injuries and their possible consequences (infection, carcass deterioration etc.)

Therefore, in modern cattle husbandry removing horns at an early age has become an accepted management practice. However, all used methods are debatable not least because of animal welfare implications. Therefore, breeding polled cattle constitutes a non-invasive option to replace the common practice by means of genetic selection. Recent results of our own research have lead to the development of a new genetic test which discriminates polled genotypes without consideration of pedigree information.

Please note: The test does not detect any genetic disposition which may result in Scurs and is validated for Bos Taurus, only. Polled genetic testing is not subject to the requirements according to DIN EN ISO/IEC 17025:2005.

Parentage testing/Verification of Identity

As for humans, DNA analysis also enables parentage testing and verification of an animal’s identity. For that purpose, microsatellite analysis is a commonly used technique.

This internationally standardised method allows for verification of parentage or identity of breeding animals. The obtained DNA profile is unique, tamper-proof and unalterable throughout an animal’s life. Even post mortem, such a profile can be established from different tissues or from animal products such as meat or milk.

DNA testing for Late Registration

EDTA blood samples are required for late registration and must be taken by a registered veterinary surgeon. You can download the submission form here:

Bovine Late Reg Sub Form

Parentage testing determines whether the animal’s putative parents can be considered as its genetic parents. In this process the DNA profile of the offspring is compared to those of the presumed parents. Since each parent contributes 50% to an offspring’s genetic information, each allelic variant of an offspring must be detected in either father’s or mother’s profile. Likewise, presumable parentage of a single parent can be tested (e.g. if the second parent is not in doubt or if no DNA profile is available) or multiple potential parents can be included in the analysis.

In addition to parentage verification, DNA profiles play an important role in the identification of animals.

DNA profiles enable unambiguous identification of an animal at any time and therefore are essential in fields of traceability of food and/or animal as well as in the context of judicial cases or insurance claims.

Red factor (cattle)

  • In Holstein Friesian cattle expression of red pigment instead of black colour is caused by an autosomal recessive trait, called red-factor. Black pied Holstein, carrying one copy of this gene, are sought after for breeding to red animals.
  • Molecular genetic testing of the causative mutation in the MSHR gene allows reliable detection of red-factor carriers in black pied Holstein which then can be used for introgression intro red coloured lines.

Genetic Disorders

BLAD

Bovine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency describes a hereditary fatal immunodeficiency in Holstein cattle. Affected animals suffer from impaired cellular immune defence and therefore fall ill or die from trivial infections within the first weeks of life.

BLAD is caused by a single base substitution in the CD18 gene which results in a decreased formation of the beta-2 integrines of leukocytes, hindering the migration of leukocytes from the blood to the focus of an infection.

Due to its autosomal recessive inheritance, BLAD affects animals carrying two copies of the mutated gene, solely. Heterozygous carriers do not show any clinical signs but can pass on the mutation and – when mated to a BLAD-carrier – can produce affected progenies.

Genetic testing of the causative mutation in the CD18 gene enables discrimination of BLAD-carriers from non-carriers and helps preventing breeding affected offspring.

WEAVER

Bovine Progressive Degenerative Myeloencephalopathy (weaver disease) describes a genetic disorder of the central nervous system with apparently autosomal recessive inheritance in Brown Swiss cattle.

At an age of a few months, affected animals develop progressive signs of ataxia, paresis of the pelvic limb and deficits in proprioception.
Clinical signs of the disease deteriorate in the course of time and finally, severely affected animals become recumbent and may die from further complications. The genetic principle of this disease is not yet fully understood. However, indirect gene testing of linked DNA markers allows determination of carriers and weaver affected animals.

SDM

Bovine Spinal dysmyelination (SDM) of Brown Swiss cattle is characterized by pathological formation of the myelin sheaths of neurons in the spinal cord. Clinical signs of this neurodegenerative disorder such as lateral recumbency with opisthotonos of varying degree and exaggeration of the spinal reflexes usually manifest immediately after birth.

Since SDM affected calves can not be cured, they are usually euthanized within the first weeks of life. The gene defect responsible for this autosomal recessive disease has recently been fully elucidated. Genetic testing of the underlying mutation allows clear distinction between homozygous healthy animals, heterozygous carriers of the disease, and homozygous affected animals.

SMA

The spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive disease in Brown Swiss cattle. The symptoms of the disease are caused by the loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord, brain stem and motoric cortex areas. As a result of nerve cell shrinkage, affected calves display muscle weakness and atrophy of skeletal muscles associated with sternal recumbency, reduced spinal reflexes and reinforced breathing at the age of a few weeks. However, in most cases regular drinking behaviour is maintained. Secondary pneumonia is a frequently observed complication developing in the course of disease manifestation. The disease is lethal within a few weeks.

The causal mutation causing this hereditary disease has been identified and genetic testing can conducted.

Arachnomelia

The hereditary Arachnomelia of Simmental cattle is an autosomal recessive disorder of the skeletal system. Affected calves are born dead or non-viable deformed, in addition, there is an increased risk of injury to the dam due to forced birth assistance.

After initial discovery of the cause of the disease in Braunvieh, the underlying mechanism of this genetic defect has also been resolved in Simmental. In both breeds, different mutations result in loss of function of an enzyme involved in bone metabolism and cause dysfunctional bone development. Direct gene testing allows differentiating between homozygous healthy animals and heterozygous carriers of this disease.

OTHER DNA TESTS

Kappa-Kasein

Modern dairy industry is not focused on milk yield alone but also on qualitative traits such as milk content. In this respect, the composition of milk proteins is of considerable importance for further processing, in particular for the suitability of cheese production.

The kappa-casein gene affects several quality traits of milk , such as clotting time, heat stability, taste and cheese yield. It became evident that the B variant is particularly advantageous for further processing.

The different gene variants can be determined by genetic testing.

Freemartin testing

Twin pregnancies in cattle with dizygotic twins of opposite sex often result in freemartinism of the female calve.
In the case of multiples, the foetal placentas are interconnected via vascular anastomoses which lead to an exposition to masculinzing factors and subsequent impaired development of the reproductive tract in the female twin. The virilisation can vary considerably.

This hampers identification of infertile females by physical examination alone. However, molecular genetic testing enables clear diagnosis of the XX / XY chimerism in the infertile female.

Please note: Freemartin testing requires the submission of blood samples.