Home> News> Genetic Management System (gms) - Helping To Win The Fight Against Hcd

It was recently reported that researchers in Germany have identified a new genetic defect – Haplotype for Cholesterol Deficiency (known as HCD) that affects the survival rate of calves in the Holstein breed.



If the genetic defect is inherited from both parents, a homozygous calf will be born and whilst it will be alive at birth and appear normal, an inability to digest cholesterol will result in the rapid deterioration of its health.



As a result of a genetic predisposition to HCD, affected calves will sadly fail to respond to any treatment, subsequently suffering from lethal diarrhoea and possibly additional ailments such as pneumonia. In the majority of cases, death will occur between three weeks and six months after birth.



Genus ABS is pleased to report that it has taken a proactive approach towards protecting herds through its Genetic Management System (GMS.) GMS offers dairy producers a breeding programme that counter selects the bulls that carry the affecting gene, ensuring that the risk of transmitting it to herds is eliminated. It is believed that GMS is the only genetic selection tool available to protect against haplotype carrier matings.



Furthermore, due to the seriousness of HCD, Genus ABS will not only treat all confirmed carriers of HCD, but will also treat any bulls ‘suspected’ of carrying the trait, as if they were actual carriers.



Data suggests that between 4.4% and 6% of the Holstein breed are either carriers or ‘suspected carriers’ and according to Holstein USA, the economic impact of HCD is estimated to be approximately £297 per case (this figure includes the value of a calf, cost of raising a calf and associated medical treatment). Whilst the seriousness of HCD should not be underestimated, Genus ABS recommends that farmers should not be unduly concerned. This gene has existed within the Holstein population for many years – if a popular bull is found to be a carrier, 50% of his offspring will inherit the normal haplotype and 50% the affected. Only in the rarest cases, whereby the mate also transmits the affected haplotype, will there be a problem with the calf.



Genus ABS would like reassure all of its customers that it is do everything within its power to protect herds from HCD. With the most extensive level of inbreeding protection, GMS can analyse up to seven generations of an animal’s pedigree, guaranteeing that the most informed and trusted breeding decisions can be made.



For further information, please contact your local Genus ABS representative or call: 0870 162 2000


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