Dr Aine O’Brien presented the outcomes of the OviGen project at the Sheep Ireland Industry Meeting held on Monday 29th April 2019 in Tullamore Court Hotel, County Offaly. To view Aine’s full presentation click here.
The objective of the OviGen research project launched in December 2014, was to assess the role that genomic technologies can play in the Irish sheep industry. In combination with core objective many other areas were explored. The main outcomes delivered from the project as it comes to a close this summer are as follows;
Thanks to the OviGen, genotyping services are now available to Irish ram breeders via Sheep Ireland. This is a major advancement for the industry and for Irish sheep farmers. Parentage verification is now possible. Where parentage is identified as being incorrect, if the genotype of the correct parent is available, it is possible to identify this correction and apply it to the Sheep Ireland database.
Health Index Development
On foot of the collection of a huge amount of health data throughout OviGen a health index has been developed (including Dag and Lameness data) and is now included in the Sheep Ireland Replacement and Terminal Index. Mastitis data was also collected throughout OviGen and hopefully this trait can be included in the health index at some point in the future. Currently it is not possible to include this trait due to insufficient data.
Calculating breed composition
OviGen is currently working on being able to calculate the exact breed composition of all genotyped sheep. This will be particularly useful in the event of a parentage error being identified and not being in a position to identify the correct parent (due to the absence of the correct parent’s genotype). In this situation we will be in a position to verify if an animal is indeed a purebred (in the case of pedigree sheep). This function would also be extremely useful in commercial flocks where breeds are crossed regularly. Calculating the exact breed composition will allow for more informed breeding decisions.