The Irish Cattle Breeding Federation (ICBF) has appointed Weatherbys Ireland DNA Laboratory working in conjunction with Eurofins Genomics to test one million cattle samples over the next two years.
The ambitious project is the first anywhere in the world to genotype one million cattle. The test itself uses a microarray technology to measure 55,000 variable positions in the DNA of each animal.
From this, scientists will use this information to predict traits such as fertility, milk yield and meat quality in individual animals. The work is part of the Beef Data Genomics Program (BDGP), running from 2015 to 2020, launched earlier this year by Ireland’s Minister for Agriculture Food and Marine, Simon Coveney, TD. The ICBF is aiming to genotype one million cattle by 2017, and a further million by 2020.
Ronan Murphy, Weatherbys Ireland CEO said: “This project is a huge step forward in agri-genomics and we are delighted to have been selected to carry out a testing regime that has never been done on this scale before.
“The microarray chip we will be using has taken two years of development by Weatherbys Ireland DNA laboratory, the ICBF and Teagasc (Irish agriculture and food development authority).
“By teaming up with Eurofins Genomics, we are able to provide expertise and accredited laboratories at the scale needed to provide customers with new and more efficient services for their animal breeding needs.”
Bruno Poddevin, senior vice president, Eurofins Genomic Services, said: “Eurofins Genomics is proud and delighted to have been selected, together with Weatherbys’ DNA Laboratory, to provide its expertise in the world’s largest cattle genotyping project-to-date.
“Through our combined industrial capabilities and highly-skilled DNA experts, Eurofins aims to provide customers in the food and agri-genomics markets the highest quality and most cost-efficient solutions for their animal-breeding needs. We are excited to provide our unparalleled capabilities and lend our expertise in large-scale project, and help put Ireland and its farmers at the forefront of genetic testing globally.”