The National Genotyping Programme is a collaborative initiative designed to enable Ireland to take the first step in achieving a fully genotyped national herd. The programme has been developed based on a cost-sharing model between the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine, the beef & dairy industry & participating farmers.

Genotyping the national herd will provide a huge opportunity for the Dairy and Beef industry to increase its sustainability credentials on a global scale. Ireland will become the first country in the world to provide a DNA-verified traceability system. It will lead to an acceleration in the rates of gain of our national breeding indexes (e.g. EBI, Eurostar and DBI), which will enhance farm sustainability and reduce carbon emissions.

    Labour saving: Farmers signed up to NGP will have exclusive access to Double Tissue Tags. By sampling animals at birth, farmers don't have to wait for button tags or hair-cards for SCEP or Pedigree Societies and then round up and bring in animals for sampling at a later stage. It is also much safer and easier to tag and sample newborn animals than more mature animals.
    Parent verification: Parentage errors (which currently sit at an average of 15% nationally) lead to incorrect Eurostar figures and create paperwork to correct once the animal is already registered. Genotyping at birth will confirm parentage & correct any errors prior to registration.
    Genomic Eurostar figures: Animals sampled at birth will receive genomic evaluations at the earliest possible opportunity, increasing the reliability of their Eurostar figures well before they are selected/sold for breeding and confirming their eligibility for SCEP.
    Cost: Herds accepted into the National Genotyping Programme will genotype remaining ungenotyped breeding stock FREE. From 2024 to 2027 (inclusive), farmers will be required to genotype ALL calves born at a reduced cost of approximately €6. (This is an estimate and includes the farmer's contribution of €4 towards genotyping, plus the additional cost associated with a double tissue tag and postage cost). Herds participating in SCEP will only incur the €6/calf cost of those calves not counted towards their annual 70% SCEP genotyping requirement.
    Commercial Beef Value (CBV): Genotyped weanlings and store cattle that are being traded through marts will have their CBV displayed on mart screens.

The programme is scheduled to initially run over a 5-year period.

Preparation: Phase 1 of the programme will involve the genotyping of up to 800,000 beef and dairy cows and breeding stock from participating herds across the country. This will all take place in 2023. Once received, farmers will have 4 weeks to return samples. There will be no cost to the farmer for sampling these animals. Only breeding animals not already genotyped (e.g. through BDGP, Ped Society etc.) will need to be sampled. Having all the breeding females sampled in advance of the 2024 calving season, ensures that the online DNA Registration process works effectively and efficiently i.e. the DNA of a 2024-born calf will match up correctly to its corresponding dam.

Ordering Tags: To avoid any potential issues around tag types, farmers who are accepted into the programme, will only be able to order the specific Double Tissue Tags from their chosen tag supplier. The farmer's contribution will equate to approximately €6/animal. This includes a €4 cost for genotyping, plus the additional tag cost and postage. All tags must be ordered before the 2024 calving season.
Note: The €4 fee payable for genotyping of newborn calves will be payable to ICBF, after an order for Double Tissue tags has been placed with the tag supplier. This must be paid in advance of any genotyping being processed. For herds participating in SCEP, the genotyping cost deducted from their SCEP gross payment will be adjusted to account for the €6/calf already paid by the herd towards the cost of the genotype, tag and postage of their SCEP samples.

Note: Participating herds must have access to register calves online. Paper registration methods, such as white cards or Animal Events sheets will not be accepted.

DNA Calf Registration: All farmers who avail of the free genotyping in 2023 are now committed to registering their calves via the appropriate DNA Registration channels. This will take place from 2024 to 2027 inclusive and ALL calves on the holding must be registered via the official DNA Registration process.

Step 1:
DNA: When the calf is born the farmer tags with a double tissue tag. DNA samples are posted to the Genotyping Lab in the return envelopes provided. It is essential that samples are sent off regularly.
We would suggest posting at least once a week and potentially twice a week during the peak of calving.
Calf details: All he basic information such as, DOB, Sire, Dam, etc should be recorded as soon as possible. This can be recorded on or via any of the Farm Software Packages. Note: Paper registration methods, such as white cards or Animal Events sheets will not be accepted.
BVD: The BVD sample is sent to the BVD lab as normal, and the DNA samples are posted to the Genotyping Lab in the return envelopes provided.

Step 2: The sample is received and processed in the genotyping lab and results are sent to the ICBF database.

Step 3: ICBF confirms the parentage. The genomic results are generated and made available to the farmer.

Step 4: The animal passport is issued, and the calf is now fully registered via the DNA Registration process.

See below an example of the timeframe for registering calves via the DNA Registration process:

Thanks to the continued support of the DNA Registration Pilot herds since 2018, we have been able to develop and streamline an effective and efficient DNA Calf Registration Process. In 2023, the average time from when the sample arrived at the lab to when the farmer completed the registration was less than 8 days.

Please see the Terms & Conditions for more detailed information on the programme requirements and commitments.

Please see the FAQ document