Data Evaluation Tools

The spring kids are on the ground and are cavorting in the field. Soon the time will come when choices have got to be made. After all, we can’t keep them all as breeders, can we? Those with years of experience think they can walk out among the kids and pick out those to keep intact. The key word there is “think”. After immersing myself in the results generated by the top cashmere goat researchers, Drs Bill Pattie and Barrie Restall from the University of Queensland, Australia, I am convinced that this is not possible. I was asked to travel to Mongolia and institute a computer based selection program to help the Mongol goat herders select suitable bucks. I figured that if the Mongols, who have been raising cashmere goats for centuries, can’t walk out in the pasture and pick out which bucks to keep intact, who can? So, I set out to expand and improve the existing American database to serve the needs of the Mongols and ended up with a database that can serve the needs of us all.

From 1994 through 1996, the University of Wyoming Department of Animal Science developed and implemented a cashmere goat data-tracking program, which has taken on the moniker of the “CW” (Cashmere Wyoming) Database. While it has not been widely used, Capricorn Cashmere has implemented the database since its inception in 1994 and has recently expanded it to include Estimated Breeding Value calculations as well as five different selection indices developed by Drs. Pattie and Restall. Dr Pattie has been asked to review the new database as it implements the results of his and Dr Restall’s significant body of research dating from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. This presentation is designed to demonstrate the use of the CW Database in its present form.

The Cashmere Goat Evaluation Database is a Microsoft Excel based spreadsheet. Users must purchase their own copy of the program, preferably the Office 2000 version. The spreadsheet is designed to track 36 data points on every goat that describe identification numbers, pedigree, body measurements, and fleece characteristics. Data was collected on the entire Capricorn Cashmere 1999 buck kid drop on September 9, 1999. The ages of the goats ranged from 10 to 16 weeks. While this is a little early to collect fiber data, the results indicate that differences among the bucks did exist that can be expected to persist into the future. By the end of the cashmere growing season, fiber length, cover, and body measurements are expected to increase. Only the top 25% of kid bucks will be kept over for objective fiber testing in the late fall at which time the Pattie and Restall Stage II Indices can be calculated. The question is, which bucks make up this elite group? Data collection took less than five minutes per animal and that included the time it took to catch them out of a small pen. We worked in a team of three people. Betty Nagel of 4B Ranch, Harwood, Texas recorded the data, and her husband Bill held the goats as I pulled fiber and measured scrotums. I caught the little critters and assessed them. It was a tiring job, and Betty and I received bruises to prove it. The data sheet is logically laid out and the procedure is simple. If you would like to implement this program for your herd and accelerate your genetic gain, let me know.

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