Tackling CCS head-on
Sept. 5 the American Angus Association posted to its web site a request for assistance on reporting calves with a condition described by veterinarian David Steffen of the University of Nebraska as “curly calf syndrome” (CCS).
Members step forward
This notice elicited many responses by our members. These responses were very valuable and led to the Sept. 17 announcement that was posted to the web site and mailed to the membership. It included the following information:
• a notice from Jon Beever titled “Likely Presence of Lethal Genetic Defect in a Specific Line of Angus Cattle;”
• an open letter to the membership from the Board of Directors;
• an introduction to the scientist, Jon Beever, with whom the Association is working at this time;
• a primer on the basic science of genetics and how recessive genes are inherited;
• discussion of how a diagnostic test is developed; and
• a possible timetable for this situation.
Since these announcements, your Association has continued to work tirelessly in tracking down reports of calves, gathering DNA samples and forwarding these samples to Dr. Beever for research to create a DNA test that will allow members to identify carriers and noncarriers of CCS.
The use of DNA technology will be a powerful tool for our members and the users of Angus genetics. It is a proven technology in the identification of undesirable recessive genes in other breeds of cattle and other species.
Recognizing the value of this technology, the Board of Directors adopted proposed guidelines for recording animals that are carriers or potential carriers of CCS once the research is completed and a test for CCS is available. These guidelines were posted to the web site Oct. 2 and have also been distributed to our membership by mail for their awareness.
As your chief executive officer, I am proud of the steps our Board has taken to communicate this developing situation to our members and to address the concerns that our members share as we move forward. I deeply appreciate the efforts our members have made and are making to ensure that we are receiving needed information and samples to move the research by Dr. Beever forward.
These challenges are being faced head-on by our breed, and we will all need to join together to be proactive in educating our customers on the abilities of DNA technology.
While challenges such as CCS test us, we will be a stronger breed once this test is passed. We can be confident that we are approaching this matter in a uniquely Angus way. We are working hard to provide open communications so that members and the users of Angus genetics can make good decisions and have an understanding of how to meet the challenges that they face.
Today we have the opportunity to address CCS in a manner that our membership could not have imagined when we first established our genetic defect policies in the 1970s. We are truly living in a unique time that requires we approach our businesses using new thought processes, not the thought processes of days gone by.