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J Vet Diagn Invest. 2001 Jul;13(4):283-9.

Complex vertebral malformation in holstein calves.

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Department of Pharmacology and Pathobiology, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Frederiksberg, Denmark.


A recently observed lethal congenital defect of purebred Holstein calves is reported. Eighteen genetically related calves were necropsied. One calf had been aborted on gestation day 159, and the others were delivered between day 250 and day 285. Birth weights were reduced. The defect was characterized by shortening of the cervical and thoracic parts of the vertebral column due to multiple hemivertebrae, fused and misshaped vertebrae, and scoliosis. Symmetrical flexures of the carpal joints and the metacarpophalangeal joint in combination with a slight lateral rotation of the phalanges also were present. Similar low-grade arthrogryposis was present in the posterior limbs. Fifty percent of the calves had heart malformation. Other malformations occurred in a few calves. Complex vertebral malformation (CVM) is proposed as the designation for this defect. A genetic etiology is indicated because cases occurred following breeding between genetically related individuals. Two common ancestors were found; both were former elite sires of US Holstein origin. Because of the widespread international use of semen from sires occurring in the pedigrees of affected calves, CVM is expected to occur in several countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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