The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) has announced the publication of the genomic results of more than 620,000 cows and heifers genotyped during the autumn and winter of 2023 as part of the national genotyping programme (NGP).

The ICBF database now contains over four million genotypes and is one of the largest databases of bovine genotypes globally.

In terms of the national dairy herd, only 6% of the dairy cows had genotypes this time last year, whereas over 32% of current dairy cows are now genotyped, the increase largely due to the NGP.

Highlighting the scale of Friday’s publication, genetics operations manager of the ICBF Dr Margaret Kelleher said that the quality, volume and depth of data coming from NGP herds will be vastly improved due to the fully verified genetic information provided through the DNA.

The ICBF has said it is committed to its role in developing and supporting dairy beef systems. The commercial beef value (CBV) is key to advancing the potential of dairy calf to beef systems as a viable option for farmers.

Mart boards

All calves genotyped as part of the NGP will receive a CBV and will have their data displayed on the mart boards.

Based on animals traded through the marts last year, 2024 should see close to 85,000 calves with their CBV displayed on mart boards.

The genomic information available for these calves will provide calf rearers with a greater selection when it comes to sourcing calves from the dairy herd this spring.

ICBF CEO Seán Coughlan said that the ongoing collaboration between the Department of Agriculture, industry and farmers is critical to achieving these milestones.

"We are only at the start of this national genotyping journey and there is huge potential to extract increased value for farmers and the wider industry," he said.

Ireland is now on the journey of becoming the first country in the world to provide a DNA-verified traceability system.

Genotyping at this scale leads to an acceleration in the rates of gain of the national breeding indices, which will enhance farm sustainability and reduce carbon emissions.

A facility for NGP herds to request the genomic parentage information of cows and heifers genotyped in 2023 will be made available in the coming weeks, the ICBF has said.