There has been a significant reduction in the number of unknown sires since the launch of the national genotyping programme (NGP), according to the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF).

Of the 10,500 herds participating in the programme, 93.7% of calves born between 1 March and 20 March of this year have been verified to a sire.

In comparison, for the same period in 2023 before the rollout of the scheme, only 17.9% of calves were sire verified. This is a decrease in unverified sires of over 75%.

This increase in sire verification will increase index reliabilities.

Twin calvings

The scheme also allows the DNA of twin calves to be analysed in more detail.

Heteropaternal twins - which are twins that are born from different sires due to being fertilised by two males during the same reproductive cycle - can be identified.

To date in NGP herds, the ICBF has reported an incidence of 1.6% twin births from a dairy sire and dairy dam, of which 5.8% were heteropaternal and 4.7% were identical twins.

There is a 2.6% incident rate of twin calves born from a beef sire and beef dam. Of these, 0.7% were heteropaternal and 1.7% were classified as genetically identical.