The National Genotyping Programme #NGP featured on a recent episode of Ear to the Ground. #ettg

Dairy farmers Gillian and Neil O’ Sullivan from Co. Waterford gave an insight into the DNA registration process and their experience of the programme to date.

“We are seeing potentially huge benefits to us in our own breeding programme in identifying what our best animals are so that we are breeding the best animals from our best animals. “

Jimmy Cotter farms in Coachford, Co. Cork and milks 110 crossbred cows on a spring calving grass based system.

By utilising the EBI, the herd has a calving interval of 363 days and a six week calving rate of 90%. Through exceptional breeding and animal husbandry the herd is in the top 5% nationally for EBI.

He has been genotyping his heifers for a number of years, and last year was his first year in the DNA registration programme. Jimmy concentrates on breeding cows that will give him 1Kg of milk solids per Kg of bodyweight. Jimmy is able to achieve this through the accuracy of his indexes and the use of high EBI bulls.

Genotyping all the animals in his herd has allowed for increased accuracy in his Economic Breeding Index (EBI) and prevented any parentage errors at registration. He is glad that with the use of genomics, if he makes a mistake at registration this will be rectified before the blue card is received.

Tom O’Connell farms just west of Cork City in Iniscarra. Tom milks a crossbred herd on a spring calving grass based system.

Tom began genotyping heifers in the last number of years and has seen the benefits reflected through his EBI (Economic Breeding Index). The herd has a calving interval of 367 days and a six week calving rate of 89%. When he fully genotyped his herd (2022) he saw an increase in the overall EBI of the herd. Although his milk sub index reduced ever so slightly, his fertility index gained almost €20, which is reflected in his herd performance.

Genotyping at birth has prevented incorrect parentage in the herd – particularly in group calving pens when there was a mix up of cows with calves which was rectified easily and before a blue card had been issued.

With the help of a farm software package, registering calves was easy and stress free, with no extra work involved.