Scoping study for genetic evaluation and improvement of Australian dairy goats

University of New England

  • Project code: PRJ-009413

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Saturday, June 7, 2014

  • Project completion date: Wednesday, June 24, 2015

  • National Priority: NAP-Provide new and developing animal industries with regular and up-to-date market assessments


Goat dairying is a small but promising industry in Australia, relying for stock on the descendants of imported animals. To date no organised genetic evaluation has been implemented, although recommendations and guidelines for programs have been developed (RIRDC, 2003).
This project will consult with industry stakeholders to identify performance recording taking place, including collection of pedigree information, in order to determine the feasibility of conducting genetic analyses using BLUP methods (the same statistical approach as is used in genetic evaluation of dairy and beef cattle, sheep, pigs and other species in Australia and other countries). This method of analysis allows comparison of the genetic merit of animals born in different years and potentially, different herds.
Subject to the availability of suitable data sets, BLUP genetic analyses on those data will be performed to produce Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs, estimates of animals’ genetic merit) for bucks and does.
Subject to the actual data structure, estimation of genetic merit within- and across-herds will be completed – potentially providing a basis for industry confidence in wider use of AI from proven sires.
Recommendations will be made regarding any limitations of the data, and scope for use of DNA pedigree to facilitate genetic improvement assessed.
Potential returns from investment in genetic improvement at the herd and industry level will be calculated, and recommendations on how to grow performance recording, genetic evaluation and genetic improvement provided.


New and Emerging Animal Industries

Research Organisation

University of New England

Objective Summary

The project will deliver:
a) an evaluation of the potential for BLUP genetic analysis of dairy goat data collected in Australian herds
b) subject to the availability of suitable data (the core requirements being consistent performance records within herds, and pedigree information), completed BLUP genetic analyses for the herds with appropriate data, delivering Estimated Breeding Values for production and any disease traits recorded, for bucks and does, along with estimates of genetic progress being achieved in those herds for the recorded traits.
c) recommendations regarding improvements to current performance and pedigree recording that would facilitate genetic evaluation and hence genetic improvement.
d) assessment of the scope for and value of using DNA pedigree to assist in genetic evaluation.
e) building on the information obtained and analysed under a) to d) above, an economic evaluation of the potential return on investment in dairy goat genetics R&D and in increased performance recording, to assist industry and individual enterprises in decision-making.
Together, these deliverables will allow industry and individuals to make informed decisions about how best to achieve profitable genetic improvement in Australian dairy goats, and subject to the data available, accurate identification of genetically superior animals to underpin an immediate lift in genetic merit.