Outcrossing for Genetic Improvement

I’ve finally found a buck to breed three of my goat does to this fall. I’m extremely pleased, as I found a Baylis line Spanish Goat buck reasonably nearby that I can cross my ladies to.

As I mentioned in the Case Against Purebred Livestock, the loss of genetic diversity represented by randomly closing gene pools is a serious problem. In dairy goats, heavy selection for milk production has also meant the loss of some important characteristics like parasite resistance and low-maintenance hooves. Breeders are willing to worm their dairy goats frequently and trim their hooves before every show, so you wind up with animals that are higher-maintenance and not as hardy as they could be. Kind of like if you see Dobermans with uncropped ears, you will see a weird variety in those ears for purebred dogs, because Dobes have been shown cropped for so long that there’s been little selection pressure for a standardized natural ear.

All of which explains why I’m excited to find a Baylis buck to whom I can outcross. The Baylis line goats aren’t as weirdly bulked up as Boer goats (for instance) and have a long body and angulation reminiscent of dairy “type”, so the kids shouldn’t look radically different from dairy goats in general appearance. But hopefully they’ll carry some of their daddy’s parasite-resistance and slow-growing hooves. I will probably keep the best doeling from the lot, a girl of moderate size, good udder attachment, and who doesn’t need worming around weaning time. And then I can use her to braid together dairy and Spanish genetics, looking for that one in a million goat who thrives on minimal grain, minimal worming, and yet produces sweet, creamy milk in a reasonable quantity. I’m very much willing to sacrifice extreme dairy production in return for hardiness, it seems to me that the bargain represents in the end what is best for the goats.

Comments (1) | Goats — Andrea @ 0706 on 10 June, 2013

One Response to “Outcrossing for Genetic Improvement”

  1. Laughingrat
    1225 on June 10th, 2013

    Good luck with this! It sounds like a wise idea.

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