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HomeFarming NewsVIDEO: Heifer calf born with visible congenital defects
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane
Catherina Cunnane hails from a sixth-generation drystock and specialised pedigree suckler enterprise in Co. Mayo. She currently holds the positions of editor and general manager at That's Farming, having joined the firm during its start-up phase in 2015.
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VIDEO: Heifer calf born with visible congenital defects

A Canadian veterinary practice highlighted a case involving a new-born heifer calf with visible congenital defects on Instagram recently.

Greenbelt Veterinary explained that the calf two connected eyes in the right socket while the left eye was smaller than it should be (microopthalmia).

“Her nose was also deviated (wry nose). Upon examination, she did have a normal palate and no heart murmur was present.” the social media post reads.

“It was elected to see if we could keep her alive with the understanding that she may have other defects that are not visible externally.”

“She was tubed with warm colostrum, given dexamethasone and kept in a heated room overnight. Unfortunately, in the morning she exhibited severe neurological signs, so she was humanely euthanized. The cause of her defects was unknown.”

Congenital defects in cattle

Congenital defects, the post added, can cause abortion of the pregnancy, or be observed at the time of calving.

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“They are uncommon but can be found in most breeds of cattle. Congenital means that the defect is present at the time of birth with the defects resulting from a genetic or environmental cause.”

Also, not all defects cause mortality, but usually, animals will have some deficits in gains or health.


Furthermore, In Ireland, the ICBF is urging farmers to notify them of any calves born with abnormalities.

A detailed description of the defect can be recorded using the ‘congenital defect survey’ which is available in the ‘record birth events’ screen on

Data, according to the federation, will be used to see if there is a genetic component to defects.

ICBF says this information will help to:
  • Identify defects within the national herd;
  • Develop its genotyping process to allow us to predict such defects from potential matings;
  • Identify sires and/or dams that produce progeny with defects;
  • Identify environmental toxins or new infectious agents in a geographical area.

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