A small chip, packed with world leading science, is helping to transform New Zealand’s sheep industry and boost farm profits.

GenomNZ, a subsidiary of AgResearch, sells the Sheep Genomic 60kplus SNP Chip.

It can be used to  predict the eating quality of a carcase, as well as a number of other important breeding traits.

“It’s an unsung hero of the meat industry,” says Callum Livingston, GenomNZ’s stakeholder manger.

“It is one of the most cost-effect tools farmers can use now to improve the quality of their flock and lower its carbon footprint.”

The 60kplus chip contains two decades of genotyping research and development from AgResearch.

Scientist Dr Shannon Clarke says: “We've made a number of different marker density chips over the years to make sure that we can have the right price point for the industry. The 60k Chip strikes the right balance of providing farmers with the information they need to make early selection decisions, at an affordable price, and overall performance including environmental traits such as methane emissions.

Sheep Genomic 60K Plus Package includes:

  • Parentage assignment
  • Reporting of single gene tests
  • Genotypes made available to your provider of choice for genomic selection
  • Client ownership of SNP genotypes
  • Client ownership of DNA samples
  • Storage of high quality DNA
  • Database storage of genotypes


The chip is small and easy to use. A sample from each animal is collected using a simple ear punch to extract DNA that is then arrayed onto a SNP chip assay that is packed with beads containing DNA  markers to capture whole genome molecular markers from each individual simultaneously.

The genomic prediction combines genomic marker data with phenotypic data (observable traits) to provide breeding values.

This enables farmers to make decision of the fate of stock (sell, breed or cull) at an early age.

Callum said the 60k Chip “has achieved genomic selection at a cost similar to that of a parentage and single gene test product”.

The product is developed with and manufactured by Illumina.

Dr Clarke said: “The cooperation between researchers, farmers and Beef+Lamb Genetics helps us update and produce weekly breeding values. We also do a lot of international testing which provides an even broader database and pedigree information picture.

“We are also making sure the latest traits such as the genomic breeding value of low methane emitting sheep are included in the package.”

For more info: https://www.agresearch.co.nz/partnering-with-us/products-and-services/genomnz/sheep-genotyping/(external link)

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