New congenital defect reported


BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — Holstein Association and the National Association of Animal Breeders urgently need assistance from dairy producers, AI companies and veterinarians in identifying calves that appear to be affected by Brachyspina Syndrome, a new lethal congenital defect causing vertebral malformation, growth retardation and internal organ deformities.

Contact the Holstein Association or David Steffen at Veterinary Diagnostic Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln at 402-472-1434 before destroying the calf.

For genetic research purposes, the entire calf, along with a blood sample from the dam of the affected calf, should be sent to the Veterinary Diagnostic Center.

Brachyspina Syndrome is reported to share similarities with Complex Vertebral Malformation but does not share the causative mutation in the gene associated with Complex Vertebral Malformation.


Calves affected with Brachyspina Syndrome differ from Complex Vertebral Malformation as follows:

Mean body weight is smaller — 23 pounds compared to 55 pounds for Complex Vertebral Malformation affected calves.

Vertebral lesions/malformations are more widespread and severe resulting in an overall reduction in spine length.

Renal dysplasia is present in Brachyspina Syndrome but not in Complex Vertebral Malformation cases.

There may be a slightly longer gestation period with Brachyspina Syndrome.

Different common ancestor.

For more information contact Holstein Association USA, Inc., P.O. Box 808, 1 Holstein Place, Brattleboro, VT 05302-0808, 800-952-5200, ext. 4225 or e-mail or contact National Association of Animal Breeders, P.O. Box 1033, Columbia, MO 65205, 573-445-4406 or e-mail

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