Padraig O’Connell operates an 80-cow dairy herd in Causeway, Co. Kerry. Over the last 5 years, Padraig’s herd EBI has steadily increased from €124 to €180. This is largely down to genotyping.

According to Padraig, “Genotyping has become a key part of our breeding strategy and in recent years we have really seen the benefits of it with increased rates of genetic gain in our herd which is translating into better on farm performance as well as more accurate figures for each individual animal. This really helps as we can pick specifics bulls to match the strengths and weaknesses of a given female. Every year when we’ve been genotyping we have come across a few parentage errors so it is great with the NGP that they get picked up and rectified at birth.”

Herd Key Performance Indicators:

  • Herd EBI: €180
  • Fat & Protein Kg/Cow: 427
  • Calving Interval: 366 days
  • Spring 6-week calving: 84%
  • Calves/Cow/Year: 0.96
  • Replacements bred to AI: 100%
  • Average Commercial Beef Value:

Dairy Males = €12

Dairy x Beef Calves = €126

Why did you decide to sign up to the National Genotyping Programme?
“After doing a bit of reading up on the programme it seemed like no brainer. As a herd that has been doing some genotyping in recent years it was a great opportunity to genotype our entire herd at no cost as well as avail of subsidized genotyping going forward for our calves. The information we have gotten from genotyping has been invaluable when making breeding decisions for our herd.

How has your experience of the programme been to date?
It has been a very positive experience for us. The double tissue tags are really convenient as you are able to take the DNA and BVD sample as your tagging the calf. It makes the genotyping process very quick and easy, no need for hair samples for extra button tags to take the sample for genotyping. The one thing I would say is the registering of calves in the NGP is a change in routine compared to what we’ve always done so it does a little while to get used to taking the extra sample, posting it away and waiting for your blue cards. But once you’ve done the first batch or 2 it just becomes the new norm!

The majority of the time we had the blue cards within 10-12 days of posting away the samples. I did notice one occasion where the samples seemed to be a few days in the post before they were received by the lab. The Herd Plus app is very useful for tracking your samples and knowing when they reach the lab and when they are processed and complete.

Did you experience any issues or problems during the Spring that ICBF should review for 2025?
“I did have 2 empty DNA samples this spring which I was notified about by text. It would be handy if the button tag for the retest could be automatically ordered with my tag company. It would help streamline things during our busiest time and save us a job.

Would you encourage other farmers to genotype or sign up for future programmes?
“I think every farmer should consider joining the programme if they can. It is a really positive programme from an industry point of view and there is great potential in it going forward. All I would say to any farmer joining is to make sure to get into a consistent routine with posting away your samples and you’ll find it very easy going then!

If you are participating in the National Genotyping Programme and would be happy to provide us with some feedback on your experience to date, please complete the short survey below.