Figures from the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) show that around 750,000 calves stand to be DNA-registered in 2024 under the National Genotyping Programme.

The programme will have funding of €83m allocated over its five-year lifetime (2023 to 2027) and is expected to pave the way for DNA registration to be rolled out across the entire national herd.

The programme has generated firm interest with approximately 750,000 calves expected to be DNA-registered across 3,838 dairy herds and 6,670 suckler herds in spring 2024.

Breeding females in participating herds which have not been genotyped to date have been identified for genotyping in recent months under year one (2023) of the programme.

The ICBF is reminding farmers who have signed up to the programme that any outstanding DNA samples must be returned to the lab by 4 December 2023. Failure to do so could lead to a herd being excluded from the programme.

DNA registration process

All calves born in participating herds from 2024 to 2027, inclusive, must be registered via the official DNA registration process. This includes a newborn calf being tagged with a double tissue tag with DNA samples sent to the genotyping lab in the return envelopes provided and BVD samples to the relevant lab as normal.

The ICBF is keen to remind farmers that it is essential that samples are sent regularly. This includes twice-weekly submissions during peak calving and once per week as calving slows down.

All the basic registration information including date of birth, gender, sire details, dam details, etc, must be recorded as soon as possible via or approved farm software packages. Paper registration methods are not accepted under the programme.

Lab results are sent to the ICBF database which in turn will confirm parentage and share results with the participating farmer/Department of Agriculture. The calf’s passport is then issued.

National Genotyping Programme: common queries

What will the scheme cost me?

Dairy HerdPlus membership is charged at a rate of €100 base price and 50c for every cow calved (calculated from the year previous). For example, a 100-cow dairy herd will be charged €150 for HerdPlus membership. Beef members will be charged €60 per year. In addition to HerdPlus membership, every calf born on the farm must be genotyped for four years at a cost of €6/calf.

How will I know which sample is BVD and which is DNA?

The samples will be colour-coded when the tags arrive. DNA samples will always be pink.

What happens if I plan on buying in replacement heifers or cows next spring?

These replacements will need to be genotyped at the standard cost once in the herd.

When do I pay for genotyping?

A direct debit for the genotyping fee for any calves born will be charged once tags are ordered for calves in participating herds from your tag provider.

What do I do if I have already bought my tags for calving 2024?

Separate single-button tissue tags can be ordered if you have single-tissue tags bought or left over from calving 2023.

Do I have to genotype dairy bull calves?

All calves must be sampled, regardless of sex or breed.