Irish Breakthrough in Genomic Bulls

IRELAND - A historic breakthrough for Irish Agriculture has been announced by Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith TD. This breakthrough is based on a new science known as genomics in which Ireland is already a world leader.
calendar icon 25 February 2009
clock icon 3 minute read

Today Minister Smith launched Ireland’s first ever teams of genomically tested Holstein Friesian bulls from NCBC Ireland Genetics for use in Irish AI, says the National Cattle Breeding Centre.

Genomics has the potential to revolutionise cattle breeding in Ireland and across the world. Using this new science an analysis of an animal’s DNA can now predict its genetic potential for generating profit from livestock farming. Initially the science has been harnessed for dairy farmers but plans are already underway to extend the technology for Ireland’s beef production.

This launch by the Enfield Co Meath based NCBC Ireland Genetics was made possible by a collaborative project over the past year which included Teagasc, the Irish Cattle Breeding Federation and financial support from the Department of Agriculture. The project involved collecting and analysing DNA from well over 1000 dairy sires and using this as a benchmark training population for evaluating the young sires in the NCBC Ireland Genetics progeny test programme.

The best of these sires, as assessed by a combination of the new Genomic assessment and conventional progeny test, will be offered to Irish farmers for the 2009 breeding season. Without the benefit of the Genomic test Irish farmers would have had to wait another two years before the merit of these sires could be established.

Speaking at the launch Dr Pat Dillon Teagasc Head of Dairy Research said that Genomic selection has the potential to increase genetic gain by 50 per cent and this will be worth an increase of over €8 million to the Irish dairy industry annually and cumulatively. “Also traits such as fertility, vital to the Irish seasonal dairy industry will be more accurately evaluated with genomic selection. “

Dr Brian Wickham head of ICBF (Irish Cattle Breeding Federation) said that Irish Cattle Breeding has undergone a revolution. “We have come a long way in the last seven years but it was the establishment of the database and the EBI that were two of the essential building blocks that made it possible for NCBC to launch genomically selected bulls today.”

“The ICBF Active Dairy AI Bull list, due out in early March will, for the first time, include genomically selected bulls. I expect these bulls to create a lot of interest with farmers and their high EBIs to attract more farmers to use AI. NCBC is to be congratulated for taking a lead in exploiting this exciting new technology for the benefit of Irish dairy farmers.”

NCBC Ireland Genetics Chairman Tom Corcoran welcomed the leap forward in Irish dairy cattle breeding that had come about from the outstanding collaboration between ICBF, Teagasc, and the AI industry. He particularly paid tribute to the role played by Dr Donagh Berry of Teagasc Moorepark is catapulting Ireland to the forefront of worldwide genomics.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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