In 2016 OVIGEN will fund a pilot project involving 10 breeders from each of the main breeds involved in the project (Texel, Charollais, Suffolk, Belclare & Vendeen). Flocks have been selected to partake in this project based on their flock DQI score. These flocks will now be offered the opportunity to genotype 50% of the male lambs born into their flocks this year. This genotyping will be carried out free of charge. We will be requesting breeders to select their best male lambs (i.e. the lambs that are likely to be presented for sale as breeding animals).

Provided that we have successfully genotyped both the Sire and Dam of the relevant ram lamb, we will be in a position to verify the parentage of each ram lamb involved. Breeders will be in a position to advertise their stock as ‘parentage verified’. This should provide breeders involved in the pilot project with a significant advantage in the market place. Not only will it guarantee accurate parentage, it will also increase the level of confidence in the genetic evaluations being provided by Sheep Ireland.

The objective of this pilot project will be to develop the required systems to facilitate the widespread genotyping of Irish pedigree sheep. Significant investment is required in the Sheep Ireland web screens to provide a system where each LambPlus breeder can view the ‘DNA status’ of each animal in their flock – For example, animals in every flock may have a different status – DNA sample not available, DNA sample in storage, DNA sample being genotyped, Genotype available, etc. etc. Development of ways to report the results of genotyping for each breeder’s sheep will be a critical element also. Our aim is to have significant progress made in this area by 2017.

Step 1: The 50 pilot flocks are contacted and confirmed as happy to take part in the trial

Step 2: The pilot flocks must input their lambing information as soon as possible

Step 3: The top 50% of males in each flock will be identified by the breeder

Step 4: DNA tags with the lambs ID will be printed on them and sent to the breeders

Step 5: Breeders will collect the DNA themselves and send it to Sheep Ireland who will in turn send it to the Lab

Step 6: When the results come back from the lab they will be communicated to breeders and incorporated into sales catalogues, with the aim of being done before the premier sale catalogues are generated which is an ambitious deadline.