The best in Irish dairy genetics is being sourced by Teagasc for a 'super' herd which will be based close to its research farm in Moorepark, Co Cork.
The elite herd will be used in a new research programme which aims to assess how extremely high EBI cows perform in Irish grass-based production systems.
Teagasc has already identified 800 heifers suitable for entry into the herd and is hoping to buy the top 200.
Moorepark researcher Sinead McParland told the IGA dairy conference in Cork that the agency was willing to pay up to €1,750 for suitable heifers.
She said the research planned to monitor herd traits such as milk production, greenhouse gas emissions, feed intakes and cow health and welfare.
However, delegates expressed doubts about the feasibility of securing elite stock at these prices given current trends.
The project, which is termed the Next Generation Herd, would also enhance the development of the EBI through the identification of new traits.
It is proposed that the herd will have 180 Holstein Friesians, 75pc of which will be elite genetic merit, with the other 25pc representative of the national herd.
The EBIs of the 800 elite heifers identified range from €135 to €244 and they are from 141 different sires.