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What’s a genotyped ram?

When we talk about a “genotyped animal”, it means that a Sheep Ireland breeder with an animal on Sheep Ireland’s database had order a tissue tag to sample the animal, and that sample has been taken and analysed in the lab. The process is completed when the DNA result is sent to the Sheep Ireland’s database and the results interpreted into Genomic evaluations and parentage results.

For genotyping, ear tissue tags are the simplest of all methods for collecting the DNA. It consists in taking a small punch of tissue from the ear using a specific ear tagger applicator. The container into which the sample is collected contains a liquid agent to preserve the sample.

This is a straightforward process where the genotype must be ordered through the breeder’s Sheep Ireland’s account. Once the farmer orders genotyping, the tag will arrive within 3-5 working days at his postal address, at which point the tissue sample can be taken from the ear of the animal.

Special care should be taken to ensure the correct animal is sampled by ensuring the animal’s tag number matches the genotyping tag. The vial containing the tissue is then sent to the lab in the pre-addressed envelope provided and the farmer will receive the results in three to four weeks.

DNA collection

  • Follow the DNA collection guide enclosed with you DNA tags
  • Ensure the sheep is properly restrained
  • Only take samples from clean & dry ears
  • Disinfect the ear after the sample is taken
  • Leave the tag in the ear


Handling DNA Samples

  • Refrigerate samples ASAP (avoid freeze thawing of samples)
  • Send samples to the Lab at the start-mid week to avoid samples being stuck in the post over the weekend
  • Samples can be kept refrigerated, but we recommend sending them immediately after sampling.


Genotyping an animal gives a breeder a lot of information including:

  • Parentage verification and predictions
  • DAFM approved Scrapie (where parents have also been genotyped)
  • Genomic Evaluations

There are many more benefits to genotyping; gender determination, inbreeding co-efficient %, Genomic inbreeding results and the monitoring of major and lethal genes in breeds.

Currently, in the LambPlus programme, 84% of stock rams are genomically tested with more than 14,000 pedigree and commercial animals being genotyped in 2022 alone. In total there are over 75,000 animals genomically tested on the Sheep Ireland database.

Genotyped Ram Action in the Sheep Improvement Scheme

Every participant is required to purchase a new ram that has been genomically tested via Sheep Ireland.

For Lowland breeds, the ram must also be 4 or 5 Star, and for hill breeds, the ram must be sire verified. This offers a massive opportunity for pedigree flocks to grow, attract new customers and increase genetic gain.

Lowland ram criteria:

  • Be genomically tested with Sheep Ireland
  • Have a 4 or 5-star genomic evaluation
  • Have a scrapie type of 1, 2 or 3

Hill ram criteria:

  • Be genomically tested with Sheep Ireland
  • DNA Sire verified
  • Have a scrapie type of 1, 2 or 3

What are the benefits of genotyping hill rams?

The immediate benefits are more accurate and increased information for any farmer using hill rams. It serves as a protection against inbreeding and dilution of breed types. It gives greater confidence to ram purchasers when choosing their rams, but ultimately it lays the foundation for breed improvement and promotion for the future. Other immediate benefits delivered by genotyping are the scrapie genotype status of hill rams and the inbreeding coefficient % (level of inbreeding) in each ram.


For more information about genotyping, click on these links:

What is genotyping and why is it important? – Sheep Ireland

How to Order Genotypes via Genomic Ordering Screen – Sheep Ireland