Ireland only the second country in the world to reach genotype milestone

Ireland is only the second country in the world to have over one million cattle with a valid genotype, according to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

The country reportedly passed the milestone on May 31; the US achieved this marker last year for dairy cattle.

Ireland currently has the world’s largest genotype database for beef cattle, with over 894,000 head of cattle registered, the ICBF added.

If only breeding-age animals are analysed, over 31% of the Irish national beef herd is genotyped. This gives an unprecedented insight into the genomic variability of the national herd.

Source: ICBF

There is no other country in the world that has this level of its national breed herd genotyped, the ICBF stated.

This level of genotyping would not have been possible without the support of Irish farmers, herdbooks, AI companies and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

“This level of genotyping allows Ireland to: have an extremely accurate pedigree; quickly analyse newly-reported genetic traits and defects; reduce genetic disease risk; and provide insights into the genomics of fertility, feed efficiency and disease resistance.

“Overall, this level of genotyping will allow Ireland to have a major impact on food sustainability, farmer livelihoods, and environmental impact,” the ICBF said.

Impact of genomics schemes

Both the Beef Genomics Scheme (BGS) and the Beef Data and Genomics Programme (BDGP) have played a key role in the growth of genotypes since 2011, according to the ICBF.

Source: ICBF

In April 2015, there were approximately 200,000 cattle with valid genotypes in Ireland. This number has increased five-fold in the past two years, figures show. This rapid increase has coincided with the introduction of the BDGP scheme.

Over 530,000 Irish cows – owned by 24,500 suckler farmers – are enrolled in the first tranche of the scheme, according to figures released by the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA) in April of this year.

Meanwhile, earlier this year the BDGP scheme was reopened for applications from farmers who weren’t involved in the first tranche of the scheme.

The new tranche is set to be known as BDGP II and it will require farmers to complete specific actions in order to receive payments over a 6-year period.