At the beginning of 2020, Sheep Ireland Launched Across-Breed Genomic evaluations, becoming the first country in the Northern-hemisphere to do so. This now meant for breeders that as well as getting parentage verification, parentage predictions and a DAFM approved scrapie status for genotyped animals, they would also get a genomic evaluation for their sheep. A genomic evaluation means that the data obtained from the animals DNA is now also incorporated into the evaluation. This genomic information is very informative, and as a result, the accuracy of a genotyped animal will increase by 15-20% on average.
Since the beginning of the year, 3,578 samples have been ordered by breeders via the genomic ordering screen, up from 1,731 in 2019 (a 106% increase). This has been driven by many factors. One of which was the fact that some societies (Belclare & Texel) offered incentives to their breeders to genotype animals from their flock. We hope this continues in 2021 and that more societies offer similar incentives in the near future. As can be seen in the graph below, the Belcare breed is leading the way, with over 1,000 Belclare genotypes ordered in 2020.
There are now over 45,000 genotypes in the Sheep Ireland database, and it continues to grow every week as more flocks submit samples for testing. In 2021, all LambPlus stock rams must be genotyped in order for their lambs to receive EuroStars. A lot of breeders have already completed this task, and any breeders that have yet to do this should do so ASAP.