Improving Fitness in Meat Goat Herds through Better Genetic Management

2015 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


LS13-254: Improving Fitness in Meat Goat Herds through Better Genetic Management
PI: R. Browning, Jr. – Tennessee State University
Co-PI: M.L. Leite-Browning – Alabama A&M University
Co-PI: R.N.B. Lobo – EMBRAPA

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

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.


Cumulative production data from this project indicates that Boer crossbred does were heavier but demonstrated similar to poorer performance values for reproductive and health traits compared to parental Kiko and Spanish purebred does. However, the Boer-cross has been far superior to the Boer purebred. The 2016 kid-crop will be the last for the Boer-cross doe evaluation. The 2016 kid-crop is the third in an ongoing series for Savanna-cross doe assessment and the first to provide meaningful data. Early data suggest the young Savanna-sired does carry higher gastrointestinal parasite loads than does sired by Kiko and Spanish sires. Another preliminary finding was that weights of Savanna-sired kids were heavier at birth, but not by weaning (90-days) when compared with Kiko- and Spanish-sired kids. The first analysis of reproductive data (3 years) will occur in the fall of 2016. A dozen producers enrolled in the online system for across-herd genetic evaluation. The system is being reviewed to more efficiently capture the pedigree information that is critical to an effective genetic evaluation. A collaborative effort with one or more breed associations is expected to streamline pedigree compilation across herds. Seminars on the importance of performance recording continue across the region as an outreach component of this project, along with talks on the economic consequences of meat goat breed selection and use.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

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. Data from this project and related efforts at this research station have changed attitudes and behaviors towards genetic management. A survey of producers indicated that breed selection, performance recording, and within-herd selection were each modified by over 30% of producers questioned as a result of educational efforts on this project and related TSU/AAMU activities. Meat goat herd productivity and sustainability would be enhanced by better genetic management.


Maria L. Leite-Browning
Extension Specialist
Alabama A&M University
4900 Meridian Street
P.O. Box 967
Huntsville, AL 35762
Office Phone: 2563724954
Raimundo NB Lôbo
Research Scientist
Embrapa Caprinos e Ovinos
Estrada Sobral Groairas, Km 4
Caixa Postal 145
Sobral CE Brazil, NP 62010-0970
Office Phone: 8831127582