Test categories

Genetic defects

Delayed Blindness {DB} – non-lethal

Delayed Blindness is caused by retinal degeneration within the eye. Cattle affected by DB are not born blind, but vision loss is noticeable near or just after one year of age. Initial clinical signs may include the animal having difficulty navigating their surroundings, bumping into stationary objects, and slowly navigating unfamiliar terrain. These cattle will also lack a menace responsive (reaction to something being moved toward the eye). Cattle are remarkable at adapting; if in a stable environment vison loss may be severe when first noticed. Unless secondarily injured, the eye appears normal to the casual observer. A detailed ophthalmologic evaluation of the retina in the back of the eye can confirm retinal degeneration. Diagnosis can also be established by genetic testing.

Dilutor {DL}  – non-lethal

Symptoms: Carrier bulls or females when mated to black cattle can produce offspring with a haircoat that is grey, smokey or chocolate brown and red to be diluted to yellow. Calves are usually mouse grey, have short curly and sometimes sparse hair and lack normal tail switch development.

Hypotrichosis {HY} – non-lethal

Symptoms: Partial to almost complete lack of hair. Affected calves are often born with very short, fine, kinky hair that may fall out leaving bare spots or areas particularly susceptible to rubbing. The condition may vary in expression as the animal matures and is usually less noticeable in older animals. The haircoat colour will sometimes appear frosted or silverish. Tail switch may be underdeveloped.

Idiopathic epilepsy {IE} – lethal

Symptoms: Age of onset (occurrence of the first seizure) can be variable, ranging from birth to several months of age. Occurrence and persistence of seizures may be influenced by environmental stressors such as temperature extremes or increased physical activity. Upon initial onset of seizure episodes, individuals will typically lie on their side with limbs extended in a rigid state. Manual flexing of the limbs is possible, but return to the extended position occurs after release. Seizure episodes may last from several minutes to more than an hour.

Mandibulofacial Dysostosis {MD} – non-lethal
The anatomic features overlap with a variety of other facial defects and can include cleft palate, brachygnathia (short jaw) and camplygnathia (crooked jaw or face). The unique and consistent hallmarks of the condition include unusual bilateral skin tags just behind the corner of the mouth. These tags are attached to an unusual bone formation. There may be additional skin tags near and/or below the ears. A ridge of Meckel’s cartilage, a structure usually present only during embryonic development, is retained in these calves, and attaches to the skin tag. The cartilage is encase in bone and it is followed from the skin tag towards the base of the ear. This bone attaches specifically to the zygomatic process of the temporal bone (just above the articulation of the jaw). The calves’ ears are sometimes slightly small and floppy. Muscles of the jaw are underdeveloped, and calves may have an elongate oral opening appearing as an exaggerated smile. The nursing reflex is present, but nursing is not vigorous. Calves with the additional cleft palate, severely shortened or crooked jaws are debilitated in ability to nurse. Calves with defect are live born but are not able to thrive.

Maple syrup urine {MSUD} – lethal
Calves are typically born without symptoms but by two to four days of age become slow, dull and eventually recumbent. The calves will often throw their heads back, lying on their side unable to rise. These calves may have some swelling of the brain at autopsy, but diagnosis requires laboratory investigation. The calves have a defect in an enzyme that breaks down complex amino acids in the diet and the build-up of these in the body creates the urine odour and brain damage. The disease name comes from the smell of urine observed in human babies (not always noted in calves).

Cost of DNA testing