For the first time ever, in my small herd of Shorthorns, some of the male calves have had contracted tendons i.e the hooves on the front feet have been folded back at birth. They have all straightened normally after a few days. The sire was a mature bull I intended to use for one season only. He was an outstanding bull; excellent conformation and size, and with a good temperament. His progeny are also impressive at 5m of age, especially one of 3 males I've kept entire as a possible herd bull.

However... if this trait is genetic, all must be castrated!

I've browsed the www. and there seems to be no definitive reason for the problem. Some say it is genetic; some say it is seasonal ,related to the condition and feeding of the mother in late gestation, some blame it on poisons in particular weeds (we don't have the North American ones mentioned).

This problem was much more common in the Friesians of my dairying days, but seeing it for the first time in the beef herd has me concerned. My inclination is that it is genetic, because the bull came from outside Tasmania (and thus likely to have completely different genetic background from locals) and only some of the males were affected.

On tother hand, why were not all the males affected if it is genetic? Do only some of the cows carry a recessive gene, in which case why has it not shown up when they were mated to local bulls who might also be expected to carry the recessive gene?

Does the BFF Brains Trust have any experience or advice?