Fawn Calf Syndrome

Congenital Contractural Arachnodactyly

What is fawn calf syndrome?

*Fawn calf syndrome is a genetic disorder that is caused by an error in the DNA code.

*The syndrome effects newborns and their connective tissues in their hind legs.

*CA effects Angus and Angus-derived cattle

*First identified in Victoria, Australia in 1998 through Freestate Barbara 871 of Kaf.

*Listed as category 1 genetic condition.

*Known carriers:

-Rambo 465T of JRS

-Te Mania Kelp K207

-Bon View Bando 598

-SAF 598 Bando 5175

-Boyd on Target 1083

Diganosis in Newborn Calfs

*Diagnosis must be done when the calf is a newborn.

*Both male and female can be affected,

*Diagnosis comes after observing the calf with the following:

-Congenital proximal limb contracture

-Congenital distal limb hyperextension

-Congenital kyphosis (upper arching of the spine)

*Most will see all of the symptoms resolve on their own as the calf grows older.

*Any calves that have been documented for having the syndrome are not allowed to be registered with the Angus Society

*CA is a recessive trait that is passed down through a carrier parent.

*The carrier parent is a normal Angus.

*When breeding a carrier to a carrier:

-25% CA calf

-50% normal carrier

-25% normal non-carrier

*Only can you have a zero percent chance of getting a CA calf by mating a non-carrier bull with a carrier cow.

*Calves that are affected by CA can live to be an adult. Without intervention, about 20% of calves would die that are born with CA.

Why is CA important?

*Without intervention, calves won't be able to stand up to nurse and will die from starvation.

*Calves that do survive end up with joint issues early on and have many health problems.

*CA cause calf wastage in herds.

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How can CA be prevented?

*Pedigree analysis can be useful to identify if any one of the Angus in the herd are potential carriers.

*Bring in more bloodlines to prevent inbreeding.

*Test your herd with a DNA test.

*Its thought that less than 5% of Australian Angus cattle are carriers now.


I think that the cattle that are carriers of the syndrome shouldn't be able to breed just because of the risk of passing the syndrome down. This seems like the only way to rid of the syndrome completely. The fact that even though calves can live with it, they can't live a full life. I think that we should come up with a way to test the baby before the calf is born and if it is a carrier or affected by the syndrome, then the breeder so be able to abort the pregnancy. The simple fact that they are wasting time, money, and resources being born with the syndrome, it would be easier to not have the calves born altogether.


American Angus Association. "Contracttural Arachnodactyly (CA) Fact Sheet." Angus The Business Breed. 09 Sep 2012. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://angus.org/pub/CA/CAFactSheet.pdf>.

Denholm, Dr. Laurence. "Congenital contracture arachnodactyly ( ' fawn calf syndrome' ) in Angus cattle."Primefacts. NSW Government, May 2010. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://dpi.nsw.gov.au/agriculture/livestock/health/specific/cattle/ca-angus.pdf>.

"Fawn Calf Syndrome Update." American Angus Association.American Angus Association, 26 May 2010. Web. 2 May 2013. <http://angus.org/Pub/CA/FC_Notice_052610.pdf>.