Charollais Sheep Society launches DNA parentage testing

As members may be aware, the Charollais Sheep Society’s Council has regularly discussed the subject of DNA testing for parentage within the breed.  Having discussed this matter in depth at the most recent Council meeting and, due to the fact the cost of this process has dropped considerably over the past few years, Council feels the time is right to start a testing regime.  

Why test for parentage?

Parentage DNA testing allows breeders to accurately track breeding decisions by verifying the relationship between sires, dams and offspring. It also gives confidence to vendors and buyers of stock that the pedigree information on each animal is correct. 

How is the test done? 

NEOGEN’s lab uses Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) technology to genetically “fingerprint” each animal at more than 100 chromosomal locations. The animal’s unique genetic fingerprint can be evaluated with the fingerprint of its expected parents by utilising the knowledge that half of the animal’s genetic information was inherited from the sire and the other half from the dam. 

Discrepancies in the inheritance pattern would suggest that an animal’s reputed parent would likely be incorrect. This SNP technology enables a higher level of accuracy in parentage testing for cattle, dogs, sheep, and pigs. A DNA sample from each animal is provided to the lab using either a blood card or nasal swab.

Which animals should be tested first?

In order to build up a bank of Charollais data, Council has decided to financially support an initial block of testing. Members will require information on the sire and/or dam of any animal to establish whether their declared parentage is indeed correct. To this end the Society will offer every member the chance to DNA parentage the sire/s of their 2022 birth notified lambs.  

How is this going to work?

All members who have birth notified 2022 lambs will be sent a list of the sires of these lambs and asked if they wish to DNA parentage test them. Once a request for test kits has been submitted, the Society office will send you the required number in the form of blood cards.  

The nose of the animal is then pricked with a spot of blood going on the included blotting card. Cards will be returned to the Society for processing with Neogen laboratory in Ayrshire.  There will be no charge for these tests. 

What if a ram has died?

If a ram has died there are two possibilities to gain a result for them. If semen from the ram in question is in store, a test can be done using a dose of thawed semen. Alternatively, if a sample has been taken for Scrapie Genotyping, the stored sample can also be used.  

Is this obligatory?

No – you do not have to test your rams, but we would encourage everyone to do so.  

What is the next step?

The next step for the Society will be that for all 2023 born lambs you will NOT BE ABLE TO REGISTER them unless you have submitted a DNA parentage result for their sires. This will be at the breeder’s expense.

What will this cost? 

We have agreed special prices with Neogen. All sample kits and returns will be processed by the Society office.  


SNP Parentage and Scrapie genotype                                              £23.50

SNP parentage only                                                                            £18.00

Scrapie only                                                                                         £14.00  

Nose pricker and blood cards                                                            £1.50   

Nasal Swabs                                                                                        £4.00

(prices + VAT)

Neogen can carry out Scrapie Genotype testing from the same sample, so members will only need to take one blood sample for both tests. If breeders wish to use nasal swabs they may.  

Will rams for Worcester Premier Sale need to be tested?

While it isn’t mandatory to have rams DNA tested prior to a sale, rams do have to be scrapie genotyped for the Worcester Premier Sale, so doing the DNA test at the same time will save money. Another advantage of doing this prior to sale is the addition of buyer confidence in the breeding of the rams being sold. 

To encourage breeders to do both tests for the sale, we are offering you a special package of fees:

  • DNA PARENTAGE TEST (blood card) 

ALL FOR £40 / ANIMAL (+vat) 

This offer will be available for all rams that are upgraded in 2022.