Selection criteria for meat goats

By An Peischel ©2020 (Third in a series)

An important criteria when selecting goats is to identify producers utilizing goats under the same production management strategy as you are. It is advisable to visit the ranch/farm, talk with the producer and see the goats in action. Match your environmen- tal and nutritional constraints and target mar- keting goals.

Selection decisions are based upon en- vironmental adaptation, pedigree and progeny data, breeding values and perform- ance, carcass data analysis, heritability and repeatability of traits along with genetic pre- diction(s) and the use of the sire summaries. Heritability is the expression of a trait in a population that is influenced by breeding values and phenotypic values. Breeding value(s) is related to an individuals value as a genetic parent and phenotypic value(s) is the measured level of performance for a spe- cific trait within an individual.

The major maternal (doe) traits are fer-

tility, milkability, maintenance efficiency (body condition score maintenance), mother- ability, freedom from dystocia (kidding prob- lems) and disposition. Major paternal (buck) traits are efficiency of gain, rate of gain, meat quality and carcass yield.

The production characteristic traits se- lected have to be carefully chosen based upon criteria for production management in meat goats. The criteria are: 1) Adaptability to climatic, environ- mental and native vegetation conditions. 2) The reproductive efficiency of the in- dividuals within the mob and the mob as a unit.

3) Growth rate of offspring at weaning, 8 months and 15 months of age.

4) Carcass merit — quality grade and yield. Adaptability

In selecting for environmental adapta- tion, select both females and males based as closely as possible, on natural selection. It is a hard criteria at times because it can have negative effects on the growth rate in the kids that eventually affects maturity, both on-set of puberty and weight gain throughout their productive life.

Therefore, intensive rangeland (pas- tureland) and brush management is needed to be sure that the young growing animals are

July 2020 | Goat Rancher 19

receiving quality protein and energy from the native vegetation. Selection for the desired traits is encouraged by using diversified graz- ing/browsing management practices. Nutrition plays a major role in the

goat’s ability to produce in a stressful envi- ronment and to encourage the expression of genetic potential. It is less stressful on all in- volved (man, livestock and land) to work in harmony with Mother Nature. Environmental adaptation is only one of the many facets of production but a major one.

Reproduction Reproduction is a trait closely related to

income. To meet this criteria, nutrition plays a vital role. Be sure that their energy require- ments are met because energy is the major nu- trient needed at this time. Without the correct energy balance, physiological priorities begin to change and reproduction is compromised. The amount of nutrition needed de- pends upon body size, body weight, physio- logical status, milk production, activity level and quality of vegetation.

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