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This presentation was given at the International Goat Symposium in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada on September 19, 2007. “Profits Through Genetics”. Genetic Improvement Through Central Buck Testing Lessons and Opportunities.

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This presentation was given at the International Goat Symposium in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada on September 19, 2007.

“Profits Through Genetics”

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Genetic Improvement Through Symposium in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada on September 19, 2007.Central Buck TestingLessons and Opportunities

Susan SchoenianSheep and Goat SpecialistWestern Maryland Research & Education CenterUniversity of Maryland Cooperative Extension

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Which buck is “better?” Symposium in Lindsay, Ontario, Canada on September 19, 2007.

I’m a pretty boy!

Yes, but what’s your average daily gain and how many times have you been dewormed?

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

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Lags behind other animal industries in the use of performance records.

Selection decisions are made primarily on the basis of appearance.

The U.S. Meat Goat Industry

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On-farm performance record keeping performance records.

Adjusted weights, ratios, indexes

Central performance testing

Ram, buck, bull, and boar tests


Central performance record keeping

BLUP -- EPD’s and EBV’s

Across herd, across breed

Methods of genetic improvement

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Central Performance Testing performance records.

  • "A central performance test is where animals from different herds are brought to one central location where performance is recorded. The rationale is that observed differences are more likely due to genetic differences, which will be passed onto offspring, rather than environmental differences, which will not be passed onto offspring. The goal of a central performance test is to identify genetic differences among animals." -- Dr. Dan Waldron, Texas A&M University

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Western Maryland Pasture-Based Meat Goat Performance Test performance records.

  • Established in 2006

  • Up to 50 male goats

  • Pasture-only diet1

  • Graze early-June through early-October (~112 days)

  • Collect data on growth, parasite resistance and resilience, and carcass merit.

12007 drought necessitated use of nutritional tubs and hay.

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Resources for test performance records.

  • Pasture

    • 10-acre pasture system

    • Divided into five 2-acre paddocks

    • Cool season grass pastures: Max Q™ tall fescue, orchardgrass, and chicory.

    • Warm season grass: field of pearl millet added in 2007 (~1.5 additional acres).

  • Fencing

    • Perimeter fencing: 6-strand, high-tensile, electric.

    • Interior fencing: 2 to 4 strand electric.

    • Pearl millet fenced with electric netting.

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Resources for test performance records.

  • Central laneway

    • 3 port-a-hut shelters

    • Two mineral feeders

    • Water troughs

    • Handling system with work platform

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Test requirements: goats performance records.

  • Male goats (bucks or wethers)

  • Any breed or cross

  • Born between December 15 and March 15

  • Vaccinated two times for CD-T.

  • Weaned for at least 2 weeks prior to test.

  • Hooves in condition to stand in foot bath.

  • Free from contagious diseases.

  • Appropriate size (weight) for age.

  • National scrapie ID.

  • Health papers.

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Results: Participation performance records.

Kiko, Boer, Kiko x Boer, dairy x meat

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Upon arrival to test site performance records.

  • Unload into handling system.

  • Stand in footbath of zinc sulfate for 10 minutes

  • Secure in head gate on elevated ramp for close inspection

  • Collect fecal sample

  • Determine FAMACHA© score

  • Determine body condition score

  • Deworm with Moxidectin

  • Delouse, if necessary

  • Treat for coccidiosis in water for first three days of test

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Managed as a single group on pasture. performance records.

Rotationally grazed.

Checked 1 to 2 times per day.

Handled every two weeks for data collection and general health monitoring.

Test protocol/management

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Reports to consigners performance records.

  • Every 2 weeks

  • Created a blog to communicate with producers and anyone else interested in test.

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Data collection performance records.

  • Growth

    • Weigh every 14 days

  • Parasite resilience

    • Determine FAMACHA© scores every 14 days

    • Evaluate body condition score every 14 days

  • Parasite resistance

    • Collect fecal samples at 0, 28, and 56 days

  • General health

    • Treat problems and note in records

  • Carcass merit

    • Ultrasound scanning for backfat thickness and rib eye area

  • Scrotal circumference

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Growth Performance performance records.Average daily gain (ADG) – pounds (grams) per day

  • Goats are weighed every 14 days.

    • Initially, they were weighed every 28 days.

  • First two weeks serves as an adjustment period.

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Results: growth performance performance records.

Average daily gain (ADG)

2006 – 0.190 lbs. (86 g) per day2007 – 0.235 lbs. (107 g) per day

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FAMACHA performance records.© scores every two weeks.

1,2 – do not deworm

4,5 – deworm with moxidectin

3 - ?????

Previous scores

Scores of other goats

Body condition score

Average daily gain

Condition of hair coat

Parasite resilience Ability to maintain production in the face of infection with parasites.

FAMACHA© scores estimate packed cell volume (PCV) [blood hematocrit.

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Results: parasite resilience performance records.




Anthelmintic treatments

2006 – 1.65 treatments per goat2007 – 0.09 treatments per goat

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Parasite resistance performance records.Ability of host to prevent infection

  • Fecal samples collected from rectum of each goat.

    • 0 days

    • 28 days

    • 56 days

    • 96 days (2007)

  • Fecal egg count (FEC) determined using modified McMaster technique.

  • Eggs per gram (EPG)

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Results: parasite resistance performance records.Fecal egg counts – eggs per gram

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General health and thriftiness performance records.

  • Goats have been treated for:

    • Fever

    • Respiratory symptoms

    • Ear infections

    • Scours

    • Bloat

    • Lice

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Zero tolerance for CL performance records.caseous lymphadenitis

  • Goats with abscesses are isolated for testing or sent home.

  • Abscesses are lanced and tested.

  • Goats with CL are sent home or to market.

  • Goats with non-CL abscesses can return to the test.

Non-CL abscess

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What it costs to run performance records.

Annual costs

  • Fertilization program for pasture

  • Pasture renovation

  • Fencing repairs

  • Anthelmintics and other medicine

  • Fecal testing

  • Ultrasound scanning

  • Daily goat care

  • Miscellaneous

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Current funding performance records.

  • Producers pay a testing fee of $75 per goat

    • $20 due at time of nomination.

    • Balance ($55) due when goats are delivered to test site.

  • Grant funds have paid for shelters, handling system, some fencing, and two years of labor.

  • In 2007, producers were able to consign additional goats for $30 per goat in order to meet the goal of having 50 goats in the test.

  • Two 4-H consigners paid a reduced fee of $50 per goat to have their goats tested.

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Lessons: what we’ve learned performance records.

  • We can monitor performance better if we weigh the goats every 14 days vs. 28-day intervals.

  • We were deworming the goats too much the first year; FAMACHA© scores of 3 do not usually need dewormed.

  • The FAMACHA© system is an effective system for monitoring and controlling internal parasites (barber pole worm) in meat goat kids grazing summer pastures.

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Challenges performance records.

  • Must have the right person taking care of the goats.

  • The test needs to pay for itself.

  • Getting enough goats for test.

  • Getting producers to understand and use performance data when buying and/or selecting meat goats.

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Opportunities performance records.

  • Most meat goat producers do not understand how to make genetic improvement in their herds.

  • Most meat goat producers do not value performance testing.

  • Most meat goat producers do not understand central performance testing.

  • Boer goat breeders are less interested in performance testing (on pasture) than Kiko breeders.

I’m not just a pretty boy.

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Opportunities performance records.

  • It will take years to develop this performance testing program and for it to gain acceptance among the widespread meat goat industry.

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Thank you for your attention. performance records.