Update from Ian Watson, Chair of the Registration Committee

Update from Ian Watson, Chair of the Registration Committee


Changes agreed by council

It was agreed at the March Council meeting that any female born prior to 1st January 2021 entering a flushing programme will be required to be DNA profiled only as sire verification may prove difficult due to the lack of suitable test material. Many of these older cows registered at birth in line with the registration standards in place at the time, bred from sires again registered at birth to the registration standards in place at the time may have no genetic material available for verification.

Profiles will provide a starting point for future verification, while all flush females born after 1st January 2021 will already be sire verified.

The current DNA programme is costing in the region of £177,000 per annum. It was agreed that going forward from 2023 changes are required in DNA collection and processing to reduce what has become a substantial cost to the society. A significant number of animals tested are going into the food chain and never leaving a calf.

In the first instance the changes will only affect bull calves. A list of registered but untested calves will be provided quarterly and only animals specified by the breeder will be verified. With most herds spring calving, 9 to 12 months of age would be the ideal time for the decision to be made regarding animal quality e.g., breeder/feeder.

This would mean only breeding cattle will be tested. In the event of a test failure animals will be mostly housed at this time making gathering samples for retests easier.

Samples can of course be analysed at any age and late developers can be processed after 12 months. With this, the breeder will be liable for the DNA cost.

Tissue samples taken at birth will be stored until required (9-12 months) or fresh tissue taken from breeding cattle will also be an option. Tissue collection tags are available, leaving no additional tag in the ear.

While reducing the DNA spend is important so too is the need to reduce test failures and improve the registration process. It is thought that reducing the numbers tested, perhaps submitting fresh tissue, and not processing samples from animals destined for the food chain will help achieve our aims.

Going forward the intention would be to use the same processes for breeding heifers, perhaps the 2024 calf crop. Sire verification prior to mating and processing tissue at 9-12 months will reduce test failure and avoid unwanted surprises at first calving.

As with all change, communication is important, and the society intend to communicate these changes to members throughout the remainder of 2022

Please note following these changes registered animals will be listed on the Society database but pedigrees will not be available until animals are sire verified and all relevant fees are paid.