Could horns on cattle soon be a thing of the past?
Hornless cows which are unable to gore farmers or threaten dog walkers are being bred by scientists.
Animal geneticist Dr Alison Van Eenennaam, of the University of California, discovered it is possible to splice the ‘hornless’ gene from Aberdeen Angus cattle into the widespread black-and-white Holstein dairy cows so that they are born without protrusions.
Instead they simply grow soft hair on the parts of their heads where hard mounds normally emerge.
Horned cattle are major headache on farms because they cause significant risks for handlers, other stock, or members of the public.
Only a few breeds, such as the Hereford and Angus do not have horns.
Most dairy cows in the UK have to go through a painful ‘dehorning’ process when they are calves but the genetic editing programme would mean farmers would not have to carry out the process.
It also makes them easier to pack into pens and trucks because horns take up space potentially saving the industry millions of pounds a year.
The first calves, which were created using IVF techniques are called Spotigy and Buri and the team at the University of California are hoping that their offspring will also be hornless even if they are bred with horned cows.