Irish beef and dairy farmers continue to accelerate the genetic gain of the national herd, enhancing farm sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.

Today, Friday, 26th January, ICBF announces the publication of the highly anticipated genomic results of more than 620k cows and heifers genotyped during the Autumn/Winter of 2023 as part of the National Genotyping Programme (NGP). The scale of today’s publication is a world first and sees Ireland again, placed firmly at the forefront of national sustainability efforts.

Commenting on the significance of today’s publication, Sean Coughlan, CEO of ICBF, said:

“Today marks another very important day in the genetic improvement journey of the national herd.  The on-going collaboration between DAFM, industry, and most importantly, our farmers is critical to achieving these milestones. We are only at the start of this National Genotyping journey, and there is huge potential to extract increased value for farmers and the wider industry.”

The ICBF database now contains over 4 million genotypes and is one of the largest databases of bovine genotypes globally. In terms of the national dairy herd, only 6% of the dairy cows had genotypes this time last year whereas over 32% of current dairy cows are now genotyped, the increase largely due to the National Genotyping Programme.

Highlighting the scale of today’s publication, Dr Margaret Kelleher, Genetics Operations Manager, ICBF, noted,

 “The Irish cattle industry has yet again taken a significant step forward in accelerating genetic progress with the implementation of the NGP.  The quality, volume, and depth of data coming from NGP herds will be vastly improved due to the fully verified genetic information provided through the DNA. There are a multitude of benefits to the NGP farmers (e.g. faster genetic gain, precision breeding, DNA registration, enhanced disease resistance, verified CBVs on dairy-beef animals) as well as to the wider industry (e.g. more accurate evaluations, better breeding programmes, enhanced traceability, increased global competitiveness, reduce GHG output) and all are cumulative over time.”

ICBF are committed to their role in developing and supporting dairy beef systems. The Commercial Beef Value (CBV) is key to advancing the potential of dairy calf to beef systems as a viable option for farmers. All calves genotyped as part of the NGP will receive a CBV and will have their data displayed on the mart boards.  Based on animals traded through the marts last year, 2024 should see close to 85,000 calves with their CBV displayed on mart boards. The genomic information available for these calves will provide calf rearers with a greater selection when it comes to sourcing calves from the dairy herd this Spring.

Genotyping the national herd provides a huge opportunity for the Dairy and Beef industry to increase its sustainability credentials on a global scale. Ireland is now on the journey of becoming the first country in the world to provide a DNA-verified traceability system. Genotyping at this scale leads to an acceleration in the rates of gain of the national breeding indexes, which will enhance farm sustainability and reduce carbon emissions. 

Herd profiles, the Animal Search etc will be updated automatically with the latest figures later this evening. Future developments will include a facility for NGP herds to request the genomic parentage information of cows and heifers genotyped in 2023. This will be made available in the coming weeks.


If you require any additional information, please contact Erin Kennedy on [email protected]