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Dear Dexter Cattle Breeders and Owners
Here is a real opportunity for you to help solve the Dexter breeds problem. The Dexter breed is a great breed of cattle but lots of people are turned off by the genetic problems inherent in the breed. The "bulldog" problem has for years evaded any solutions. Now we have some real effort being made. Julie Cavanagh, a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney is devoting full effort to developing a DNA test for the achondroplasia gene in the Dexter breed. She needs our help if a solution to this problem is to be found. She needs hair samples and bulldog tissue samples. Please refer to the attached materials for a complete discussion of how you can help.
Achondroplasia in the Dexter Breed - The Australian approach to the problem
Dexters are an extremely popular breed of cattle here in Australia. There are approximately 700 registered members of the Australasian Dexter Society (ADA) with greater than 6500 registered animals, and the numbers have been increasing. For the breed to continue to grow in Australia, the bulldog problem must be addressed.
A few years ago, the Australasian Dexter Association approached Dr Peter Harper from NSW Agriculture and Associate Professor Frank Nicholas from the University of Sydney for a solution to the achondroplasia problem. Since then, much effort and time has been put into collecting samples and pedigree information and the clinical characterization of the disease (Harper et al.(1998) Chondrodysplasia in Australian Dexter cattle. Aust Vet J 76(3):199-202). Dr Peter Harper presented our project last year at the World Dexter Congress in Cirencester, UK
In 1997 Dr Imke Tammen joined the group, working on the molecular characterization of genetic defects in cattle, including achondroplasia in Dexters. In July of 1998, myself, Julie Cavanagh started as a full-time PhD student. My aim is to identify the Achondroplasia gene and to develop a DNA test for the disorder. For identification of the gene causing bulldog calves, we need samples and pedigree information from large numbers of affected animals and their relatives.
If you have a bulldog born in your herd you could help us by taking a photo, taking a tissue sample (eg tongue, liver or muscle (about the size of a chicken egg)) of the animal, freeze it and contact us for further advice about transport. We would also like to get hair samples from animals related to bulldogs (parents, half and full sibs), or any pedigree information you have about bulldogs or carriers - regardless if you can provide a sample or not. All this information will of course be treated in confidence.
For further information please contact either Dr Imke Tammen or Miss Julie Cavanagh at the University of Sydney or Prof Gradwohl who has offered to support our efforts in the USA.
Dr Imke Tammen & Julie Cavanagh
Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences
The University of Sydney
425 Werombi Rd
Camden NSW 2570
Ph: +61 2 93511604, +61 2 93511649
Mobile: Imke +61 417784698, Julie +61 416251314
Fax: +61 2 93511618
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