The calving season will soon begin on many farms around Ireland. If you notice a calf with any sort of defect or deformity, we would really appreciate you recording this through our new short congenital defect survey. The first step to eliminating these defects is to report them. The survey will take less than 3 minutes to complete!

What is a congenital defect?

Congenital describes those abnormalities that are present at birth. They may arise due to genetic or environmental factors or an interaction between both. ICBF are interested in defects which may have a genetic influence. Genetic defects occasionally arise in all species, and cattle are no different. 

Why should I report a defect?

There are many genetic defects in Irish cattle where the underlying cause is still unknown. Without reporting, such defects cannot be identified or managed. Cases of such defects may be sporadic and rare, so all incidents should be reported if possible.

Reporting a defect is important because it enables us to:

  1. Detect emergences of genetic defects as early as possible
  2. Estimate the number of calves born each year with a defect
  3. Identify bulls siring calves with a greater number of defects
  4. Determine the underlying genetic cause of the defect to aid the development of screening tests
  5. Detect new diseases in our herds, e.g. the Schmallenberg virus outbreak which caused severe defects in calves

Where can I report a defect?

The congenital defect survey can be found here:  Congenital Defect Survey or on the ICBF website, under Services > Other Services  > Health and Disease.The survey will take less than 3 minutes to complete. In addition to reporting the defect, you will have the option to forward on a photo/video of the deformity which is very helpful in identifying the defect. By reporting these cases, farmers are helping the ICBF to identify, monitor, and manage genetic defects segregating in the Irish cattle population. If you have any questions in relation to the  defect survey, please contact 023-8820452 or email [email protected].

Commonly reported defects

Since 2014, some 555 farmers have reported genetic defects to ICBF through the genetic defect survey. The most commonly reported defects were Atresia (blocked intestine), followed by tail defects, defects of spine/shoulders/hips/limbs/hooves, cleft lip/palate/nostril, behavioural/neurological defects, dwarfism, eye defects, skin/hair defects, ear defects and defects associated with the genitalia of the animal.