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DrMelJ
DrMelJ, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 825
Experience:  University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine- class of 2007.
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Do you have any idea why some calves are born without

Customer Question

Hello, do you have any idea why some calves are born without an anus please? This has happened on my parent's farm 5 or 6 times in the past few months. They have asked their own vets, and asked people in a vet. laboratory, but nobody seems to know.
I would really appreciate your opinion please.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  DrMelJ replied 2 years ago.
Hello. Thanks for the question. Let me see if I can help.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Hello, do you have any idea please?

Expert:  DrMelJ replied 2 years ago.
Atresia ani (congenital failure of development of the anus) in calves is an inherited defect. This means that perhaps the bull you have been breeding to plus the cows are the source of the genetic problem. It is more common in Holstein breeds. But is thought to be an autosomal recessive genetic issue. Meaning both the male and female parents contribute an abnormal gene. Are the bull and cows from a similar genetic line? You may need to look into going further afield in for your bull. Or buy some new cows.
Expert:  DrMelJ replied 2 years ago.
There is some suggestion that a poor bloodsupply to fetus during the first 6 weeks of gestation could also contribute....did something happen at your farm early on when these cows were pregnant? Was a vet palpating them for pregnancy or a layperson?I would bet on the genetic issue but stress during early pregnancy or overly aggressive palpation should be considered potentially.
Expert:  DrMelJ replied 2 years ago.
There are surgical corrections available for atresia ani but treatment is not recommended in animals to be used for breeding since it likely would be passed to offspring
Expert:  DrMelJ replied 2 years ago.
I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any further questions.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The calves have died. I know that the calves could have been operated on, but the likelihood of them surviving was very poor.

Expert:  DrMelJ replied 2 years ago.
I agree. I dont think it was wrong to let them die or have them put down. I would just encourage you to look at your breeding lines and consider changing things up.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

How could we change the breeding lines please?

Have you, or anyone you know, ever come across about 5 calves on 1 farm dying due to atresia ani or coli?

Expert:  DrMelJ replied 2 years ago.
Use a new bull. Like I said...it is often genetically passed on. If you used the same bull for all of these calves, then he is the source....he is a bad combo with your cows. Get a new bull.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Have you, or any other vet you know come across such a high occurrence of this on a farm?

Expert:  DrMelJ replied 2 years ago.
If you used the same bull for all the breedings and/or the bull and cows are related (line bred) then YES it can happen as a wave of calves on a farm because it is a genetic problem with the breeding. OR if you had a big stress event like a huge storm or illness go through the herd of pregnant cows early in gestation, then it could have affected the blood supply to the early developing fetuses and led to several cows having calves with this problem. So yes..you can have a high occurrence on 1 farm in 1 year if either of these conditions above was met.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you.

Expert:  DrMelJ replied 2 years ago.
You are welcome. Best of luck. Please remember to rate my response if you found our chat helpful.