Breeding Programs

OBJECTIVE: To design a breeding program that addresses the needs of cashmere breeders. Breeding Programs can be easily designed to manipulate any two of the six cashmere fiber characteristics that define a cashmere goat while holding a third constant;

1) Down Length
2) Down Diameter
3) Down Weight
4) Fleece Weight
5) Yield and
6) Liveweight.

Because it is very difficult to manipulate more than two characteristics at one time, this Breeding Program will confine itself to two of the six traits. For example, if liveweight and down production are found to be at acceptable levels, down diameter and down length will be manipulated. If down diameter and liveweight are found to be within acceptable limits, down production and yield will be manipulated. Work done by Pattie and Restall (1991) will provide the calculated heritabilities in Australian goats, as this comprehensive study is the best available information. Final Breeding Program design will be determined by the herders themselves.

COMPONENTS: There are three components to a Breeding Program:

1) The breeding objective
2) The genetic evaluation and
3) The breeding program design.

The breeding objective is always determined by return to the growers, ie: what is it that the grower wants to change in order to increase his return. It is assumed that his objective will be based on the requirements of the processors, ie: what is it that can be economically grown that they will pay the most money for. This objective will be defined for the breeders participating in the program by evaluating the fiber produced by his goats and evaluating the current market for fiber. Please note that the objectives of each breeder may not be the same and that these slightly different goals will require slightly different treatments.

Genetic evaluation is done through the use of Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) for each breeding animal. In order to determine a goats’ EBV, measurements for fleece characteristics for not only the goat but for the herd from which the goat arises must be determined. This will entail researching the quality of the cashmere harvested from each breeding group. A Selection Index will be created to link the breeding objective to the genetic evaluation.

The third component, the Breeding Program itself is linked to genetic evaluation by defining the type and degree of genetic changes that needs to be manipulated. What is learned during the in-country visit will determine the design of the Breeding Program. During this process, many factors will have to be estimated such as:

1) economic factors
2) genetic packages
3) management options

The final Breeding Program design is contingent upon all of these factors.

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