Accurate parentage information is vitally important in order to make informed breeding decisions and to follow the breeding goals for your herd. There are many advantages from a breeding perspective to having animals sire and dam verified through genotyping which include:

  • Greatly reduces the possibility of inbreeding.
  • More accurate genetic information and indexes.
  • If selling surplus animals, it increases buyer confidence.
  • Can be important when registering pedigree animals.

Nationally, the average sire error rate is approximately 10%, meaning 1 in 10 calves are mistakenly registered to a bull that is not their actual sire. The rollout of the National Genotyping Programme (NGP) will reduce this error rate considerably in the coming years. There are currently approximately 10,500 herds participating in NGP of which just over 3,500 are dairy herds and 6,700 are beef herds.

This year in NGP herds, 93.7% of all calves born in the period between 1st January 2024 and 20th March 2024 have been verified to a sire. In contrast to this, animals born in the same cohort of herds, prior to NGP taking place in the same period in 2023, only 17.9% of calves born were sire verified. This huge increase in sire verification due to NGP will greatly increase index reliabilities and result in better breeding decisions in the future.

By genotyping calves at birth, the DNA of twin births can be analysed in more detail. Cases of heteropaternal and identical twins can be identified which are often difficult to confirm without a DNA profile from both animals. Heteropaternal twins occur when two or more eggs are fertilised by two or more males during the same reproductive cycle resulting in twins with different sires. Identical twins originate from a single fertilised egg that divided into two distinct embryos. Both animals in this scenario will have identical DNA.

In 2024 to date in NGP herds, 1.6% of calvings from a dairy sire and dairy dam resulted in twin births. Of these twins born, 5.8% of these were heteropaternal and the incidence of identical twins was 4.7%. Twin calves born from a beef sire and beef dam is currently running at 2.6%. 0.7% of these twin births were heteropaternal and 1.7% were classified as being genetically identical.