Please see below a detailed list of Frequently Asked Questions. If you have a question that is not listed below, please contact the HerdPlus office on 023-8820452 or email [email protected].


How do I join the DNA Reg programme?

Applications must be submitted online at or via the ICBF mobile app. To complete the online application, farmers will need the following details:

  • Herd Number
  • Direct Debit details.
  • Contract rearers herd number (if applicable)
  • Milk purchaser
  • Tag supplier

All applications are subject to approval.

How much does it cost?

Dairy/Dual: Dairy and dual herdowners must be members of  Dairy HerdPlus. Dairy/Dual HerdPlus membership is charged at €100 base price, and 50c for every dairy cow calved the year previous (If a farmer calves 100 cows : €100 base price + (.05 x 100) = €150 dairy HerdPlus membership).

Beef: For suckler beef herds who are actively participating in the Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP) there is NO requirement to join the Beef HerdPlus service.

Suckler beef herds who are NOT in SCEP can also join the National Genotyping programme; however these beef herds will be obliged to join the ICBF Beef HerdPlus service, where the annual membership is charged at €60 per year.

The first year of genotyping is free, and each genotype will cost €4 thereafter (years 2-5) and will be paid at tag purchase. A direct debit for the genotyping fee for Newborn calves will be triggered once calf tags are ordered with the Tag Provider. This will be collected from the herdowner, by ICBF, approximately within a month of the order.

What animals must I genotype?

In year 1, you must genotype all your breeding stock (cows, heifers, followers, bulls), and in years 2-5 you must genotype all calves born on the farm (No exceptions!)

Do I have to genotype all animals?

Yes all animals born on the farm must be genotyped, with no exceptions.

How do I buy the double tissue tags?

Tags will be sent to you automatically for year 1. For year 2, you can order double tissue tags from your tag supplier, it is your responsibility to buy the correct tag type.

Can I order double tissue tags for Autumn 2023?

No. Tag suppliers will not be in a position to supply double tissue tags for calves born in Autumn 2023. Double tissue tags will be required for calves born from 1st January 2024.

I am already a part of the SCEP programme, can I join this programme as well?

Yes you can. We urge all SCEP participants to join this programme.

I am in SCEP, will I get paid for genotyping extra animals?

No, you will not be paid to genotype extra animals. The department will pay to genotype 70% of your reference number. It will cost you a further €4/head for each animal thereafter.

How is the programme being funded?

The first year of the programme will be funded by the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR). Genotyping for the following 4 years will be shared by the National Genotyping Programme partners. The National Genotyping Programme partners include the Department of Agriculture, Food & the Marine (DAFM), Dairy Industry Ireland (DII), Meat Industry Ireland (MII) and participating farmers. The genotyping cost of €18 per sample will be divided equally between the three Programme Partners; 1. DAFM, 2. DII & MII and 3. Participating farmers (i.e. €6 contribution per programme partners.

Where is the €6 for genotyping going?

ICBF will take €4 by direct debit after you purchase your tag from your chosen tag provider. The remaining €2 will be provided to cover the cost of postage and tag production.


I am in participating in the new Suckler Carbon Efficiency Programme (SCEP), can I still part take in this scheme?

Yes, all participants of the SCEP scheme are advised to join the National Genotyping Programme.

I have to genotype 70% of my reference number every year, how will joining this scheme affect my payment?

This will not affect your payment provided you meet the requirements of the scheme.

I was in BDGP and as a result most of my herd is genotyped. Can I still take part in the scheme?

Yes, even if all your animals are currently genotyped you should take part in the scheme. You will be able to genotype your future calves at birth in this scheme. This will be a big labour saving opportunity for the future.

If I join this programme, can I genotype the calves at birth or do I have to wait for the department to send tags?

You can genotype all the calves at birth with double tissue tags. These will cover your genotyping requirement throughout the scheme. The department will not send any extra tags. It is your responsibility to ensure you can meet your 70% genotyping requirement every year.

Can I tag all my animals at birth for the scheme in the future?

Yes, all animals participating in the national genotyping programme need to be genotyped at birth from 2024 onwards.

I am a new entry into SCEP, and I was not in BDGP. What animals will I have to genotype this year?

You will initially have to genotype 70% of your reference number through the SCEP scheme. If you part take in the national genotyping programme you will be able to genotype every non genotyped breeding animal in your herd this year free of charge. Every calf born on the holding must be genotyped thereafter.

How will I know what animals to genotype through the scheme?

If you are in the National Genotyping Programme you will genotype all the animals born in the herd.


How do I genotype the cows?

Upon joining the scheme, you will be sent button tags from your nominated tag supplier, for each breeding animal with a corresponding tag number. You can tag these with your tagger and return the samples to the lab in the return envelopes provided.

When will I receive my tags?

You will receive button tags after you have been accepted into the programme.

When must I send the tags back?

Samples must be returned within 4 weeks of receiving the tags.

I am selling a cow at the end of the year, do I still need to genotype her?

No, if the cow/heifer is not in calf and you plan to sell her at the end of the year, then you do not need to sample her.

How much will it cost to genotype my cows?

There will be no cost for genotyping the cows in year 1 (2023), as this will be funded through the Brexit Adjustment Reserve (BAR) funding.

How do I get tags for my cows?

Tags will be issued by ICBF in the coming weeks.

When will I receive a genomic evaluation for my cows genotyped in year 1?

You will receive a genomic evaluation no earlier than the 31st of December 2023.

What happens if the sample I send back is of low quality?

Hair cards will be reissued free of charge for any animals genotyped in phase 1 which returned with low quality.

Can I use hair cards to genotype my cows?

No, only tags will be used to genotype cows. Hair cards are only issued in the event that a sample has been identified in the lab as low quality.

My cow is already genotyped, do I have to do it again?

No, once an animal is correctly genotyped, they do not need to be done again.

I have a breeding bull on the farm, will he be genotyped as well?

Yes, all breeding males will also be genotyped in year 1 free of charge.

I am going to buy a bull for breeding 2024, will he be genotyped?

If you buy a bull in Spring 2024, you will need to pay the standard rate of genotyping for the animal.

I am going to buy in-calf heifers next Spring, do I need to genotype them?

Yes, you will need to genotype these heifers. You will need to pay the standard rate of genotyping for these heifers.

Will my 2023 calves be genotyped this year?

Yes. All 2023 born females still on the holding will be genotyped along with the cows.


When do I genotype tag the calf?

You genotype the calf at birth, at the same time that you take the BVD sample.

Can I send the DNA sample to the same place as the BVD?

No, DNA samples will be sent to the approved Genotyping lab. BVD samples will be sent to the lab you have been sending them for the past number of years.

How often must I send away samples?

It is recommended that you send DNA samples to the lab at least twice per week at peak calving. As calving slows down, it may be sufficient for samples to be sent once per week.

How will I know which sample is BVD and which is DNA?

All samples (tissue tubes) will be colour coded. DNA samples will always be Pink.

How do I buy the double tissue tags?

Double tissue tags will be available to you from your tag supplier in the Autumn.

How will I pay for genotyping?

A direct debit for the genotyping fee for Newborn calves will be triggered once calf tags are ordered with the Tag Provider. This will be collected from the herdowner, by ICBF, approximately within a month of the order.

What happens if I lose a sample down the slats or a sample breaks when tagging?

If a sample is lost or damaged, you can order a replacement button tag from your tag company.

I already bought my tags for 2024, what can I do now?

If you have single tissue national tags bought or left over from calving 2023, you can order corresponding button tags to genotype these calves at birth. It should be possible to order additional corresponding button tags from your nominated tag supplier. This will be confirmed at a later stage.

Do I have to sample dairy males?

All calves must be sampled, regardless of sex or breed.

What if the calf is dead?

If a calf dies before it is registered, tag AND sample the calf before it is collected by the knackery. The samples should still be posted, and the rest of the registration carried out as with the live calves.


Tag the calf and send the DNA tissue tube to the approved DNA Genotyping lab within 5 days.

Where do I send the sample?

The DNA samples must be sent to the genotyping lab in the envelope provided.

How long will it take to register my calf?

In 2022, the average lab turnaround time was 4 days. Including postage, the whole process can take on average 10-12 days.

How do I register my calf?

After you send the DNA sample to the lab, you must register the calf as normal on the AgFood Website, or on your farm software package (FSP). Details such as dam, sire, DOB, calving difficulty, pedigree name etc. must still be recorded at birth.

What happens if I have recorded the incorrect parentage?

If the genotype determines the correct parentage, this will automatically be updated on Agfood and the passport will be issued.

What happens if the registration is late?

The legal requirement to register the birth of a calf within 27 days still applies. However, once you submit your own registration records within 27 days, you will not receive a late registration notice even the unlikely event the genotype results are delayed.


I have received confirmation that my calf is registered, how/when will I get the passport?

You will receive the passport in the post as usual.

I made a mistake when recording the sire/dam of the calf, will this be fixed automatically?

Yes, the genotype will rectify this and the animal will be registered accordingly.

How will I be notified if there is an issue with a sample?

If a sample comes back as “Empty”, you will be notified by text message.

The sample came back as a “Empty”, do I have to re-sample this calf? And is this calf registered?

Yes, you will need to resample the calf. You will need to order a button tag as you would with BVD.

When will my calf have a genomic evaluation?

Your calf will receive a genomic evaluation within 2 weeks of the sample result being returned from the lab. It is the responsibility of the farmer to return samples in a timely manner. The more regularly they are sent off, the quicker the turnaround time for registration will be.

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