The end of livestock dehorning? Gene-edited hornless dairy cattle move towards commercialization

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Hornless heifer calf #1 of gene-edited bull alongside horned Hereford control calf on right (Image source: Alison Van Eenennaam/Twitter)

Dehorning could soon be a thing of the past thanks to alliance formed by two genetics companies based in the U.S. and Canada.

Recombinetics, a Minnesota company specializing in livestock genetic editing, has partnered with Canadian semen distributor Semex to help bring more polled genetics into dairy cattle breeding. The alliance will help utilize precision breeding in an effort to eliminate dehorning.

The practice of dehorning is common in dairy production as it helps prevent injuries to both cattle and animal handlers. However, dehorning can cause discomfort and pain to cattle. It also requires additional labor to dehorn cattle.

Many popular dairy breeds like Holstein and Jersey have sires with polled genetics, but the overwhelming majority of dairy cattle are horned.

The alliance between Semex and Recombinetics has the goal of increasing the amount of polled cattle with high-merit dairy genetics.

“By eliminating the need to dehorn, we eliminate the stress and health concerns associated with the procedure. This benefits the cattle, the farmers and consumers who value animal health and well-being,” says Francois-Xavier Grand, Corporate Veterinarian for Semex.

Read full, original post: Partnership Aims to Improve Animal Welfare with Genetics

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