Arthrogryposis Multiplex (AM) ??-?

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DOC HARRIS

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Having been involved in several very in-depth discussions relating to Arthrogryposis Multiplex (AM), also known as "Curly Calf Syndrome, and have read with increased interest the concern and anxiety which accompanies these discussions with Angus breeders, I find it curiously interesting that very few (almost NONE) of the contributors to CT and/or Ranchers.net seem to be alarmed regarding the future of their genetics! One of the Forum's with which I relate is HIGHLY involved with how the AAA is handling the problem. But NOT the folks on this Forum.

The lack of interest (understanding?) seems odd to me, inasmuch as the situation involves the entire future of Angus breeders, and how they MUST manage their BU$INE$$ in light of this Genetic apparition which has invaded the beef cattle industry recently.

Burying your head in the sand will not make the problem - or your future genetic decisions - disappear.

DOC HARRIS
 

Frankie

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Good grief. You're obviously not paying much attention, DOC. There have been several discussions about Curly Calf and other Angus genetic defects (and how those defects may have bled over into other black breeds) on these boards. Beating a dead horse won't get you down the road any faster.

There's no need for Angus breeders to panic. The AAA has put out clear rules for AM. You can't register a calf from an AM carrier unless he's tested AMFree. The AAA won't issue AI certs on bulls known to be AMCarriers. Pretty simple and staightforward to me.

But if you have something new to add to the conversation, I think most of us Angus breeders on this board would be interested. If you're just trying to start a fire... :frowns: .
 

blackcowz

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Although my herd has been unaffected by this disease, it has been a widespread problem for the industry. I wrote a paper on the subject covering how AM has affected producers and some of the progress and frustration that has come of AM. Doc, Vet might be in the cards for me yet. :D


Arthrogryposis Multiplex is a genetic defect that has only affected three calf crops but has put the entire beef industry and the American Angus Association on guard and has caused substantial financial damage to farmers and ranchers across the nation. Arthrogryposis Multiplex, also known as AM, is a genetic defect that causes calves to be born with a twisted spine and limbs (Kaiser, 26). The calves lack adequate muscling and are born underdeveloped (Kaiser, 38). How did an obviously negative defect come about? When line breeding certain families of cattle, the object is to improve the good traits of the herd, but it also brings out the genetic impurities of AM. When a certain line in the Angus breed was line bred over several years, the genetic defect of AM surfaced.

What exactly is AM? What are the effects on the calf? AM is the name scientists decided to give to a genetic defect that exhibits several characteristics such as Arthrogryposis, Kyphoscoliosis, and Muscle Hypoplasia (Kaiser, 38). The defect is lethal and causes the calf to either be born dead or causes it to die shortly after birth (Kaiser, 38). Arthrogryposis (also known as arthrogryposis multiplex congenita) is the condition in which multiple joint contractures form, as evidenced by the twisted and stiff limbs of an affected calf (Kaiser, 38). Muscle weakness is also a sign of calves affected with Arthrogryposis. Kyphoscoliosis is a condition where the spine is curved and there are also problems with muscle control. Muscle Hypoplasia is the condition where the tissues and organs of the calf are underdeveloped. In addition to Kyphoscolosis, calves with AM have torticollis and associated abnormalities of the ribs and sternum (Kaiser, 38). There may also be a cleft palate, cranial doming, and lateral deviation of the facial bones. (Kaiser, 38). The ear pinnae are often set lower than normal and closer together on the back of the skull (Kaiser, 38). All these conditions are symptoms that an affected calf will exhibit. So with all those symptoms, why is this defect only called AM? AM is also, and perhaps more commonly known as, Curly Calf Syndrome, or CCS. This obviously refers to the “curly” appearance of the calf. Another name for AM is Bovine Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita, or BHAMC. Some other names that have been used to name this disease have been Muscle Hypoplasia, Arthrogryposis, and Kyphoscoliosis (MAK) (Kaiser, 38).

AM came about as a result of line breeding the popular line of GAR Precision 1680 line of cattle in order to maximize their carcass traits and bring the cattleman more value on the USDA yield and quality grading system. The line certainly excelled, but soon stacked carcass genetics led to a cattleman’s worst nightmare -- dead calves (Pullman, 104). Now cattleman were losing money right when a dead calf was born rather than getting extra dollars when they sold their calves at weaning or as finished cattle out of the feedlot. When research began on AM to seek out its origin, the line of GAR Precision 1680 was on one or both sides of the pedigrees of the all of the affected calves (Kaiser, 26). Upon further research, his maternal grandsire, Rito 9J9 of B156 7T26 was also in certain calves’ pedigrees that were affected and had 1680 on only one side of the pedigree (Kaiser, 38). Although cattlemen were adding value to their calves with increased carcass merit, it ended up costing the entire beef industry big time with more economic loss than several dead calves.

When cattlemen bred lines of cattle tracing to 1680 or 9J9, not every calf born was twisted and dead at birth. In fact, there were surprisingly few affected calves relative to the number of Angus cattle in the USA. Many cattlemen bred their cows via A.I. or natural service to AM carrier, or AMC, bulls without knowing it (Pullman, 105). However, their cows did not carry the AM gene and so fifty percent of the calves from that cross were carriers but not affected (Pullman, 105). The other fifty percent were completely free, or AMF (Pullman, 105). They can’t produce AM affected calves, or AMA calves. However, when two carriers of the AM gene were mated, approximately twenty- five percent of their calf crop were born affected and were born twisted and dead or died shortly after birth (Pullman, 105). Twenty-five percent of the calves were AMC because AM is a recessive gene and needs at least two carriers to bring it out (Pullman, 105). Fifty percent of the calves are AMC and have a chance of producing AMA calves if they are bred to other AMC cattle (Pullman, 105). Although it may seem confusing, it comes down to the fact that years of stacking genetics brought several AMC cattle into breeding herds. Then, inevitably, two AMC cattle were mated and produced an AMA calf which was found in the spring of 2008 and caused a national scare.

You may be wondering, “Is there a solution to this defect? What’s being done to stop it?” The good news is that Dr. David Steffen, DVM, Ph.D. and Dr. Jonathan Beever, Ph.D., DVM, were on the case as soon as the first AMA calves were reported (Pullman, 104). The American Angus Association asked their members to remain calm about the matter and were prompt as possible when delivering updates on the progress being made to pin down the defect. Dr. Beever asked all cases of AMA calves to be immediately reported directly to him so that research could be conducted. As fall Angus production sales began to be planned, people were understandably concerned about buying cattle. However, Dr. Beever’s work on the problem allowed for a DNA test to be conducted on cattle at a breakneck speed that never could have been attained only a year ago (Pullman, 105). The American Angus Association authorized certain laboratories to conduct the tests and Dr. Beever has now identified 736 popular A.I. sires’ AM condition (AMC or AMF) (Kaiser, 26). Although Dr. Beever from the University of Illinois was a driving force behind research and diagnosis of AM, Dr. David Steffen, DVM., Ph.D., from the University of Nebraska was also investigating AM and diagnosed it as a genetic rather than an environmental influenced defect (Pullman, 104).

Now we have a DNA test available for the detection of AM. This test is still being modified and the latest way to collect DNA from cattle is pulling hair from the tail switch. The cattle tested are those that trace back to 1680 or 9J9 on either side of the pedigree (Pullman, 106). These “suspect” cattle then have their DNA sample collected, labeled, and sent to an approved AM testing lab. Then the cattle producer can find out whether or not his bulls or cows he plans on breeding are AMF or AMC (Pullman, 106). So far as A.I. sires go, the majority of A.I. studs only offer semen on AMF bulls in order to greatly reduce the chances of getting AMA calves.

Producers that have AMC cows have generally agreed that culling the cows or selling them is the best way to try and make their entire herd AMF (Pullman, 105). Although progress has been made to the point where only for sure AMC cows can be culled, selling high dollar registered cows at sale barn market prices represents a fairly large loss to the producer (Pullman, 105). The quality of the meat of the animal is NOT affected by the defect, but AMC cattle are generally terminal. However, some producers have decided to keep some AMC flush and herd cows and to test their offspring from AMF bulls. (Pullman, 106). If AMC cattle need to be fed out and sold as beef, what about all the bulls in the breed that producers were selling and collecting semen on? Many reputable seedstock producers immediately tested their cattle and got rid of AMC bulls and cows they were preparing to sell as breeding stock (Pullman, 105). Selling these breeding stock animals as meat animals brings significantly less than quality
breeding stock unless carefully marketed. Therefore, many of the huge bull sales that take place each fall and spring either had to be canceled or have far fewer bulls than they originally had to offer. The potential income from these sales were slashed and many cattlemen are still feeling the ill timed affects of AM. Due to an unsteady economy, these producers needed their big sale’s income more than ever, and that income was either cut or simply didn’t come in at all. However, despite the frustration and problems AM has caused, it has been nipped in the bud and is well on its way to no longer being a problem in purebred Angus and Angus influenced herds (Pullman, 106).

As I stated, AM has been directly affecting the breeding portion of the Angus industry. However, it also affects the beef sector of the industry. The superior carcass genetics that the Angus breed and the 1680 line in particular are now lost, as few producers want to chance getting an AMA calf. Due to the immense popularity of 1680, breeding beef cattle numbers could be largely affected by the reduction of selection of sires and dams who are 1680 free (Pullman, 104). However, the testing of suspect cattle has caused some problems. Due to the early stages of testing, some high quality prospect sires have tested AMC and the producers took the respectable action to castrate the bulls and feed them out to be butchered for meat so that AMC genetics, not matter how good, would not be passed along. However, sometime the AMC cattle were later declared AMF and vice versa. However, viewing the entire picture of the Angus and beef industry in general, the frustrations caused are small compared to what may have resulted if no test had been instrumented (Pullman, 105).

Arthrogryposis Multiplex is a genetic defect that has only affected three calf crops but has put the entire beef industry and the American Angus Association on guard and has caused substantial financial damage to farmers and ranchers across the nation. AM, also known as CCS, has caused panic in all sectors of the beef industry, particularly with producers raising Angus and Angus influenced cattle (Pullman, 106). Many have become frustrated with how the defect has affected their operations and a substantial financial loss has been realized by the industry, particularly in the seedstock sector. Although testing suspected AMC cattle is still in the early stages, it has saved many producers from a lot of grief and brought further spread of the defect under control (Pullman, 105). On the other hand, lots of semen sales and bull production sales have been stopped and have caused financial hardships. Considering the give and take, the beef or more directly the Angus industry, considers the defect under control and people are beginning to regain confidence in the Angus breed.


Works Cited:
Kaiser/MD/DVM, Lana. "Arthrogryposis Multiplex." Bovine Veterinarian March & April
2009: 38-40.

Kaiser/MD/DVM, Lana. "Arthrogryposis Multiplex." The Michigan Cattleman Winter
2008: 26-27.

Pullman, Jaime. "Angus Angst." Working Ranch Spring 2009: 104-06.

Special thanks to Lana Kaiser for her consent of the use of her articles in this paper and her
support in helping me find on AM.
 
OP
D

DOC HARRIS

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:clap: :nod: I thought that this might stir up a little interest in the mind's of those who don't "keep up" with posts on a day-to-day basis!

As for you, Frankie, - if you think that I am just "trying to start a fire" - why don't you just . . . blow it out??

DOC HARRIS
 

RD-Sam

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I'm with Frankie, the rules are pretty straight forward and the rules will deal with the situation. I just sent two more for AM testing to make sure they are clear, can't do anymore than that.

I visited with a high end seedstock producer yesterday, and saying he is frustrated is putting it mildly, he is vested heavily in the lines affected. He is continuing to produce from carriers and test calves instead of changing his whole breeding program. I can't say I blame him, I looked at a $25,000 cow, a $48,000 cow, and several offspring from a $550,000 cow. I can't see sending those to the salebarn for dog meat! :cowboy:
 

KMacGinley

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My interest is in the hydro trait, we are clear on the AM, but I am rather angry about spending the money to test when it comes out. I may not even test them, I might use them as recips or send all of their calves to market. I am angrier still at potentially losing some very excellent cows as registered, because unlike evidently some people, I can see the writing on the wall, and the precision thing is over. Those people that are testing to keep marketing Precision offspring are only kidding themselves. Those $550,000 animals are probably really worth market price.

I also hope that when the dust settles, those that knowingly propagated these traits pay, including the people at the AAA who at best ignored it.
 

sizmic

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Doc,
Personally, I feel this sight is geared more for the southest, not one of the biggest black cattle areas.
However, I feel I have to say that there is way more angus genetics out there than might seem to be.

Sizmic
 

robert

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It appears the Angus breeders who've responded so far are up to speed on policy, however, are they aware that the BOD are under serious pressure to change/relax the rules regarding AM? A cursory look at the may/june Angus Topics gives a pretty good idea of one side of the debate, there will be an opportunity in a couple of days to stand squarely with the BOD on the policy enacted so far ahead of the BOD meeting on 6/10!
 

Frankie

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robert":3iw5beas said:
It appears the Angus breeders who've responded so far are up to speed on policy, however, are they aware that the BOD are under serious pressure to change/relax the rules regarding AM? A cursory look at the may/june Angus Topics gives a pretty good idea of one side of the debate, there will be an opportunity in a couple of days to stand squarely with the BOD on the policy enacted so far ahead of the BOD meeting on 6/10!

Yes.
 

alexfarms

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DOC HARRIS":rz86t5eq said:
Having been involved in several very in-depth discussions relating to Arthrogryposis Multiplex (AM), also known as "Curly Calf Syndrome, and have read with increased interest the concern and anxiety which accompanies these discussions with Angus breeders, I find it curiously interesting that very few (almost NONE) of the contributors to CT and/or Ranchers.net seem to be alarmed regarding the future of their genetics! One of the Forum's with which I relate is HIGHLY involved with how the AAA is handling the problem. But NOT the folks on this Forum.

The lack of interest (understanding?) seems odd to me, inasmuch as the situation involves the entire future of Angus breeders, and how they MUST manage their BU$INE$$ in light of this Genetic apparition which has invaded the beef cattle industry recently.

Burying your head in the sand will not make the problem - or your future genetic decisions - disappear.

DOC HARRIS

I am not an Angus breeder, but I am a purebred cattle breeder and I dealt with genetic abnormalities in the 80's and early 90's and my conclusion was to move toward linebreeding and proving the genetics, so that i didn't have to start over again every few years because of the genetic abnormalities I was continually bringing in through AI to high performance outcross and show bulls. I think the conclusion people will come to is we just have to find ways to prove what we have and build from there and linebreeding is the best way I have found to do it. I think the cattle I am raising today are more "what you see is what you get" kind of cattle and I don't think there will be as many genetic surprises in them.....I think that is the kind of foundation anyone can build on. There are alot of good linebreeding programs in the Angus breed that can be tapped into by any Angus breeder that wants to move in that direction. I think Angus breeders would be doing themselves a favor if they tried to do the things that will prevent the genetic abnormalities from damageing them in the future rather than obssessing with the dna tests that exist today . JMHO
 

Avalon

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We have 25 registered angus cows. I have never followed the single trait fads. That especially included the carcass thing. Precision NEVER impressed me, so I stayed away from most of his breeding. We used some Midland and BT crossover. The midlands were clean and its about time to check the crossovers. Some like me have dodged a bullet, Others like my friends down the road have lost lot of money. The association has been ethical and professional in its handling of AMF. Sometimes to the detriment of its own members but always with the goal of protecting everyone involved. This will soon be in the rearview mirror much the same as TH & PHA among the shorthorns. But I have the feeling that our association will go one step further and stamp it out completley. I dont see any need for much other discussion unless it's directly affected one of us. So thats my 2 pennies.
 

EAT BEEF

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Just cut the heads off the positive ones,not a big problem if you don't pay 10 times more for cows than their worth.Their just cows and they taste great,In fact I'll be enjoying the hamburger from a AM positive cow tomorrow at a cookout. :cowboy:
 

VanC

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Well, I'm certainly not directly affected by this thing, but I, like most other people, routinely comment on things that don't directly affect me. Besides, it's a pretty big story, especially with people, like me, who are even remotely interested in cattle.

I feel terrible for those that have been, and will be, hurt by this thing. I know there are those out there that are salivating over this. They may hope that the Angus breed, having been on top for so long and with no end in sight, gets taken down a notch or two. They may resent big time breeders that routinely buy and sell high dollar animals. They may see this as an opportunity to line their own pockets. That's unfortunate.

As far as people being negligent, or conspiring to cover something up, I haven't seen any evidence of that. If it's true, it'll come out in the end. Until then, I think it's best to keep the rumors and heresay to ourselves. I know, especially in this day and age, our first instinct when someting goes wrong is to look for someone to blame. That doesn't help solve the problem. It only makes it worse.

Avalon said that he felt the AAA would take steps to wipe this thing out completely. Not singling him out, but I don't see how that's possible. Yes, it can be eliminated from the registered herd, and the AAA is taking steps to do that. I would think any other breed that has Angus blood would want to do the same. But the only way I can see even coming close to totally eradicating this thing would be to test every animal even suspected of having Angus blood and destroying the ones that test positive, and even that wouldn't come with a 100% guarantee. Even if that were only done in the U.S. it would cost billions, wipe out thousands of breeders, and possibly destroy the breed, if not the entire industry. After that, all imported animals, embryos, and semen would have to be tested for a good long time, maybe forever. I don't see that happening, and I don't think it's necessary.

I think the best that can be done is what's being done now. Eliminate it from the registered herd and ask people to only use bulls that are tested AM free on their commercial cows. Even then, there will still be carriers out there, but the chances of getting an AM calf will be slim.

The way I see it, there's one thing to be thankful for: that we have the technology to identify AM carriers in a relatively short period of time. Otherwise, this thing would be a bigger mess than it already is. Good luck to all that ARE directly affected by this.
 

Brandonm22

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ACTUALLY, if we were able to eliminate it from the Registered Angus herd we would have this thing thoroughly under control. YES, there would still be AM positive commercial cows all over the place; but nobody would ever lose a calf from it because no Angus breeder would be selling carrier bulls so there would never be a homozygous AM calf. Over decades, as you piled on AMFree Angus and PURE bulls from other breeds (and yes this is another reason I don't like composite bulls) the number of carriers in the commercial herd would gradually diminish. The key now is to identify the registered carriers and get their carrier calves out of the seedstock business.
 

VanC

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Brandonm22":14nhzmwv said:
ACTUALLY, if we were able to eliminate it from the Registered Angus herd we would have this thing thoroughly under control. YES, there would still be AM positive commercial cows all over the place; but nobody would ever lose a calf from it because no Angus breeder would be selling carrier bulls so there would never be a homozygous AM calf. Over decades, as you piled on AMFree Angus and PURE bulls from other breeds (and yes this is another reason I don't like composite bulls) the number of carriers in the commercial herd would gradually diminish. The key now is to identify the registered carriers and get their carrier calves out of the seedstock business.

Never is a pretty strong word. What about the people that sell and use unregistered bulls? What about the other "black breeds", or the people that sell Angus hybrids? They would all have to agree to the same policy the AAA has implemented. Obviously, the problem can be greatly reduced by eliminating it from the registered herd, but short of identifying and destroying every carrier, there will still be an occasional AM calf. It should become very rare, but I don't see how it can be completely eliminated.
 

Brandonm22

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I said that the way to get out of this is to use known AMFree Angus bulls (whether they were sold registered as calves or not) and PURE bulls from other breeds. IF a bull is pure Hereford, Charolais, Longhorn, Shorthorn, Braford, Brahman, etc Precision 1680 shouldn't be anywhere in the pedigree. Some of the newly turned black breeds you might want to look closely at the pedigree (and if you don't believe the breeder's pedigrees why are you buying anything from him in the first place?) or demand an AM test. Obviously, with the breeders of traditionally colored Limousins, Simmentals, Maines, Gelbviehs, Beefmasters, and Gerts there is no risk from AM or NH. Folks that use unregistered grade bulls of unknown genetics do so at their own risk. I am not overly worried about whether the guy who buys bologna bulls at the stockyard gets burned on some calves or not. He probably loses more money than this to trich and vibrio. AM and NH are not really a problem in the commercial cattle sector if you use a little judgement when you purchase bulls and talk to the bull seller. It would be better for the whole industry though if Angus breeders would stop multiplying the defect by selling AM and NH carrier commercial bulls; though the same can be said for Hereford breeders with Ideopathic Epilepsy and Shorthorn/Maine breeders with TH and PH.
 

TheBullLady

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I have got to say that anyone that has $550K invested in a cow has got to be crazy anyway! There isn't anything worth that much $$, I don't care how many progeny they raise or how well they do in the show ring. People amaze me sometimes...
 

Red Bull Breeder

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Traditionally colored cattle would not always mean they didn't have angus in them. Purebred cattle that are bred up could carry the red gene. Fullbloods would be safe.
 

RD-Sam

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TheBullLady":2arrwwb7 said:
I have got to say that anyone that has $550K invested in a cow has got to be crazy anyway! There isn't anything worth that much $$, I don't care how many progeny they raise or how well they do in the show ring. People amaze me sometimes...

Actually they did quite well with that 550k cow, I think it was over 5.5 million in sales they made off it, give me a couple of those any day!
:nod:
 

dun

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RD-Sam":1i7m2zkd said:
TheBullLady":1i7m2zkd said:
I have got to say that anyone that has $550K invested in a cow has got to be crazy anyway! There isn't anything worth that much $$, I don't care how many progeny they raise or how well they do in the show ring. People amaze me sometimes...

Actually they did quite well with that 550k cow, I think it was over 5.5 million in sales they made off it, give me a couple of those any day!
:nod:
Which goes to prove that Barnum was right!
 

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