Scoping Study for Genetic Evaluation of Australian Dairy Goats

  • 32 pages

  • Published: 22 Mar 2016

  • Author(s): Walkom, S., Banks, R. G

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All agricultural industries must address the challenge of prices rising faster for inputs or costs, than for outputs or products (this is commonly referred to as the cost-price squeeze). Continuous productivity improvement is needed to meet this challenge. A key strategy contributing to achieving continuous productivity improvement in all modern, viable industries is genetic improvement.

Genetic improvement consists of identifying individuals within the population with superior genes, and using those individuals preferentially as parents of the each successive generation. Over time, this means that each generation is genetically better than the previous ones, and if the improvement is targeted at traits that contribute to either income or cost, the improvements can offset the cost-price squeeze.

Identifying the individuals with the best genes is achieved in essentially all livestock industries by the use of advanced statistical methods to analyse pedigree and performance data. Identifying the individuals with the best genes is referred to as genetic evaluation.

This project explored the potential to apply such methods to breeding programs in the Australian Dairy Goat industry. If possible, application of these methods would assist dairy goat breeders to make genetic improvement, almost certainly at a faster rate than is being achieved currently. The benefits of that faster genetic progress would then get spread through the wider population through genetically superior bucks.

This project is a scoping project, on a modest scale. The results show that there is real potential for genetic improvement of production and health traits in Australian dairy goats, and that there is some scope for applying the advanced statistical techniques currently used in other industries.

The results highlight an exciting opportunity for Australian Dairy Goat breeders to breed more productive and healthier populations in a way that will underpin profitability for goat producers.