Error in parentage of one-fifth of animals
The reliance of livestock breeders on genotyping for pedigree validation of animals has been undermined by the scale of "incorrect" parentage which has been found in a major scientific assessment.
The Teagasc study found that one or both parents has been incorrect in an average of one in five pedigrees after almost 18,000 genotypes of pedigree sheep were analysed.
The findings, which were revealed by Teagasc Moorepark scientist Noirin McHugh at the Sheep Ireland Stakeholder meeting at All Mellows College, Athenry were described as "an eye-opener" by breed society representatives attending the meeting.
Pedigree societies raised concerns over the potential serious legal implications for breeders.
"Something has to happen very, very quickly by the breed societies, once we are aware of these errors, because it is putting them in an awkward spot," one representative told the meeting.
Dr McHugh told the meeting: "Overall we are saying that in terms of parentage of the 18,000 animals that were genotyped, the parentage could not be verified for about 20pc where either the sire or dam or both were incorrect."
Of the sheep genotyped, 2pc failed genotyping, about 14pc did not match the records on the sire database and on the dam side around 9pc could not be verified.