Heritable bovine fetal abnormalities

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The etiologies for congenital bovine fetal anomalies can be divided into heritable, toxic, nutritional, and infectious categories. Although uncommon in most herds, inherited congenital anomalies are probably present in all breeds of cattle and propagated as a result of specific trait selection that inadvertently results in propagation of the defect. In some herds, the occurrence of inherited anomalies has become frequent, and economically important. Anomalous traits can affect animals in a range of ways, some being lethal or requiring euthanasia on humane grounds, others altering structure, function, or performance of affected animals. Veterinary practitioners should be aware of the potential for inherited defects, and be prepared to investigate and report animals exhibiting abnormal characteristics. This review will discuss the morphologic characteristics, mode of inheritance, breeding lines affected, and the availability of genetic testing for selected heritable bovine fetal abnormalities.

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