Farm Ireland

Tuesday 21 November 2017

ICBF genomic bull test a big hit as 1,000 sampled in first month

Caitriona Murphy

Caitriona Murphy

MORE than 1,000 dairy bull calves have been genomically tested in the first month since the ICBF launched its new lower cost genomic selection service.

The €50 test has been used on hair samples of 300 bull calves from dairy farms and a further 700 bull calves selected by AI companies as potential sires of the future.

The popularity of the new test has led to the ICBF targeting a total of 3,000 bulls to be genomically tested by the end of this spring.

"This test will be a matter of course for farmers in the future," said the ICBF's Andrew Cromie.

The test is most popular so far with farmers who have high EBI herds and want to assess their young bulls for potential sale to AI companies.

"The average genomic EBI is in the €170-180 bracket, so farmers and AI companies are looking for bulls with a genomic EBI of over €200," said Mr Cromie. "Particularly those bulls from outcross or unrelated sires."

The test results are available within six weeks of birth, allowing the farmer to make a decision on whether to keep the bull or sell it off the farm for veal.

Although the focus has been almost exclusively on bulls until now, there are plans in the pipeline to extend the testing to heifers this autumn.

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Meanwhile, genomic research is set to continue at a frenetic pace, with the international focus now moving to sequencing the entire genome instead of just parts of the genome.

"Instead of looking at 3,000 pieces of information, we will be looking at 30 million pieces of information," predicted Mr Cromie.

Indo Farming