The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) is rolling out a pilot DNA calf registration programme to commence operation in spring 2022.

At the moment, about 50% of calves born in the dairy herd have a sire recorded in the ICBF database.

A huge amount of important data on dairy-beef calves, in particular, is being lost every year because of this. DNA calf registration could help to solve some of these problems.

The programme aims to assess the time and costs involved and the practicalities of a DNA calf registration programme being rolled out at national level.

Programme participants will receive two tags from their tag provider for their calves born in 2022, one for DNA sampling and one for BVD sampling.

Quick tagging

Participants are being asked to tag calves as quickly as possible after birth.

The average time from the birth of a calf to the issuing of a blue passport will be 14 days in the programme but this will vary from a minimum of 10 days and could go up to 18 days.

The tissue sample will typically spend seven days in the lab so the quicker the sample is submitted, the quicker the card will be returned.

All programme participants are required to register calves via online facilities such as through the Department’s portal or other approved farm software programmes. The cost to the farmer will be €10/calf.

There are also reduced rates for participants for genotyping other animals in the herd. Stock bulls will cost €8/head and cows will also cost €8/head.

Suckler-bred calves which are DNA registered will count towards the genotyping requirement for farmers participating in the BDGP programme.