Genetics New Zealand

Beef Genetic Conditions

As genetic conditions in beef cattle continue to emerge, producers may face management challenges in upcoming breeding seasons. Suspect animals, or those known to be carriers of recessive genes, can be tested with DNA diagnostic tools.

Zoetis Genetics is proud to offer genetic conditions testing solutions for beef cattle producers. Our comprehensive products help test for specific genetic conditions and the results can be used to:

  • Confirm carriers or syndrome-free animals
  • Advance breeding decisions and eliminate the expression of the recessive gene
  • Facilitate marketing decisions

Please click on the sections below to learn more about our specific genetic conditions test available and sample submission details.

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  • Arthrogryposis Multiplex (AM) is a lethal condition caused by a DNA deletion event within the genome of Angus and Angus-influenced cattle and exhibits a recessive inheritance pattern. Affected calves are known to be still-born with a twisted spine, and extended and contracted limbs.

    Click here to read more about the history of AM.

    To address this issue, a genetic test has been developed by Dr. Jon Beever at the University of Illinois and is available commercially through Zoetis Genetics.

    For more information about AM and the importance of testing suspect animals, please review the following material and website information:

    AM Information Sheet
    New Zealand Angus Association
    New Zealand Angus Curly Calf Updates and Test Results

  • Developmental Duplication (also referred to as polymelia) is a genetic condition that impacts specific lines of Angus and Angus-influenced cattle. Developmental Duplication (DD) has a simple recessive mode of inheritance. This means that animals must receive two copies of the deleterious allele, one from each parent, to be affected (designated as DDA). Animals that only receive one copy are "carriers" (designated as DDC) and transmit it to one-half of their offspring. Animals have no copies are "free" (designated as DDF) of the condition. It is important to note that DD carrier animals are physically indistinguishable from animals that are free of the condition. It is believed that many affected animals are absorbed in utero or aborted early in gestation. Those that do survive birth typically have additional limbs (usually extra front legs) originating from the neck or shoulder region.

    Testing animals is the only practical way to identify DD free (DDF) and carrier animals (DDC).

    For additional information, click here.


  • α-mannosidosis is a lethal disorder linked to a genetic condition affecting Angus, Murray Grey and Galloway cattle. There are two versions of the condition caused by two separate genetic mutations, one affects Angus and Australian Murray Greys; the other affects the Galloway breed. These two mutations cause the same disease and both affect the same gene1. Affected calves express a number of symptoms including head tremors, uncoordination, aggression, nervousness and failure to thrive1,7. Most calves die shortly after birth or within the first year and some are aborted during pregnancy.

    The recessive disease was first described in Australian Angus animals by Whittem and Walker in the late 1950s2, and before controls were put in place in New Zealand in 19744 about 3000 affected Angus animals were born annually3. The Angus mutation has also been found in North America5 and in Aberdeen Angus in Scotland6.

    Since the discovery of the condition regulations have been put in place to reduce the prevalence of the mutations in New Zealand1. However continued testing is still required to ensure the prevalence of carrier animals is kept to a minimum. It may never be possible to completely remove carrier animals from the breed populations world wide.

    More than 20 years after α-mannosidosis was first described, with major advances in technology, a DNA test was produced for both the Angus and the Galloway mutation1. This test is currently available through Zoetis Genetics.


    The New Zealand Angus Association website states that Mannosidosis DNA testing is required when importing genetic material into New Zealand. This includes semen, live animals and embryos.

    Click here to reference the rules regarding α-mannosidosis DNA testing for Galloway animals.


    1. Berg, T., Healy, P., Tollersrud, O., & Nilssen, Ø., (1997). Molecular heterogeneity for bovine α-mannosidosis: PCR based assays for detection of breed-specific mutations. Research in Veterinary Science 63: 279-282
    2. Whittem, J., & Walker, D., (1957). “Neuronopathy” and “pseudolipidosis” in Aberdeen Angus Calves. Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology 74: 281-288
    4. Jolly, R., Digby, J., Rammell, C., (1974). A mass programme of Angus cattle for the mannosidosis genotype. Prototype programme for control of inherited diseases in animals. New Zealand veterinary journal 22: 218-222
    5. Leipold, H., Smith, J., Jolly, R., and Eldridge, F., (1979). Mannosidosis of Angus calves. Journal American Veterinary Medical Association 175(5): 457-459
    6. Jolly, R., and Hartley, W., (1977). Storage diseases of domestic animals. Australian Veterinary Journal 53: 1-8
    7. Hocking, J., Jolly, R., and Batt, R., (1972). Deficiency of α-mannosidase in Angus Cattle: An inherited lysosmal storage disease. Biochem. J. 128: 69-78



  • Neuropathic Hydrocephalus (NH) is a lethal disorder linked to a genetic condition caused by a recessive mutation that affects Angus and Angus-influenced cattle. Affected calves are born dead with an extremely large cranium with little or no brain material or spinal cord. It is probable that a large percentage of mortalities relating to NH occur through embryonic or fetal loss during gestation, which causes the defect to go misdiagnosed or unnoticed.

    The genetic condition has been traced back to GAR Precision 1680, a highly influential Angus sire.1 The Arthrogryposis Multiplex (AM) mutation has been traced back to this animal as well.

    A diagnostic test for NH developed by Dr. Jon Beever at the University of Illinois, in collaboration with Dr. David Steffen at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the American Angus Association, is now available commercially through Zoetis Genetics.

    For more information about NH and the importance of testing suspect animals, please click here.


    1 Beever J. An Update on Neuropathic Hydrocephalus in Cattle. American Angus Association. Available at: Accessed June 8, 2009.

  • Testing of suspect animals is essential to avoid the negative impact of genetic conditions and to slow propagation of the defective gene.

    Samples may be submitted in one of the following forms:

    • Hair follicles: When submitting hair samples, please make sure at least 25 follicles (bulb intact) are included to ensure an adequate volume of DNA to complete the test.
    • Blood collector cards
    • Semen samples
    • Whole blood samples in purple-topped tubes