Date of this Version



© 1985, The Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska on behalf of the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Extension. All rights reserved.


This NebGuide describes congenital defects that affect the economic value of beef cattle, and provides recommendations on how to minimize them in breeding programs.

Congenital defects are abnormalities of structure or function present at birth. They may be caused by genetic or environmental factors, or a combination of both. The causes of many defects remain unknown.

Developmental defects may be lethal, semi-lethal, or compatible with life, causing very little effect or only aesthetic effect.

With the increasing use of artificial insemination (AI) in cattle, defects are no longer rare occurrences and are important collectively to the cattle industry. Congenital defects cause economic losses by increasing perinatal calf mortality, decreasing maternal productivity, and decreasing the value of defective calves and their relatives.