Improving Fitness in Meat Goat Herds through Better Genetic Management

2014 Annual Report for LS13-254

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2013: $230,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2017
Region: Southern
State: Tennessee
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Richard Browning, Jr.
Tennessee State University

Improving Fitness in Meat Goat Herds through Better Genetic Management


Fitness problems in meat goat herds may be linked in some part to poor genetic management within the prevailing production environment. A moderate to low input management system is important for meat goat enterprise profitability. The rising costs of livestock inputs make it more important to enhance the ability to goats to perform under limited resource conditions. One way to do this is through better genetic decision-making. Genetic decision-making involves 1) the appropriate screening among breeds to select a breedtype with desired attributes within a given set of production conditions and 2) the use of tools to aid in the evaluation of desired stock within a selected breed.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Boer crossbred and Savannah crossbred does will be compared to parental Kiko and Spanish purebred does for fitness traits on pasture typical of small farms in this region. An outreach effort will be conducted to stimulate on-farm performance testing and enhance genetic evaluation in meat goat seedstock herds using a web-based management tool using best linear unbiased prediction to generate breeding value for growth and fitness traits.


Early work indicates that Boer crossbred does grew to be heavier but had lower whole-herd reproductive rates to weaning and higher tendencies towards anemia (gastrointestinal parasite indicator) compared with parental Kiko and Spanish purebred does. An online system was launched at the end of 2014 for seedstock managers to submit data for the generation of breeding values (Meat Goat Genetic Evaluation System – MGGES). An earlier introductory evaluation processed historical records from the TSU Boer, Kiko, and Spanish populations. The breeding values from the KIko population were used to educate producers about the process.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Information provided will help producers make better genetic management decisions in their herds. Many of the input costs associated with meat goat management are inflated to compensate for unfit genetics that are a poor match with the prevailing production environment. Meat goat herd productivity and sustainability would be enhanced by better genetic management.


Maria L. Leite-Browning

[email protected]
Extension Specialist
Alabama A&M University
4900 Meridian Street
P.O. Box 967
Huntsville, AL 35762
Office Phone: 2563724954
Raimundo NB Lôbo

[email protected]
Research Scientist
Embrapa Caprinos e Ovinos
Estrada Sobral Groairas, Km 4
Caixa Postal 145
Sobral CE Brazil, NP 62010-0970
Office Phone: 8831127582