Goat Genetics

19 Mar

I absolutely love trying to guess what my kids are going to look like when they are born.  What color?  What markings?  Will they have horns?  What kind of horns?  It is so much fun to see what trait they will get from whom.  I have a bit of variety in the breeds we have, and  I know most of them, but there are a few blanks.  My original five girls were supposedly Nubian nannies.  They are Saanens.  I would guess they are pretty much all Saanen.  Mabel was given to me as a Nubian nanny.  She is obviously not pure Nubian–she is way too fine in her build.  Based on the markings and horns of her kids, and now grand and great-grandkids, I would guess the other part is Oberhasli.

I know that when I mix Mabel, solid black, and Goliath, pure white, I am likely to get solid cream-colored or burnt toast kids.  Way back in seventh grade, we studied Punnett Squares for simple genetics.  Horns follow the one gene from each parent rule.  Mabel is naturally polled (without horns) and Goliath has horns.  Because no horns is dominant, only half of Mabel’s babies should have horns.  In truth, she is at 60% polled.  We’ll see after she has three more babies this year.  Jack, my newest billy goat is also polled. In the one year I have had babies from him, 43% of his babies were polled.  I must say there are advantages to having a billy goat who will only have about half the horns.  I have someone who is planning on buying one of Jack’s polled babies to have his own sire without horns.  Cattle farmers have used this knowledge of simple genetics to selectively breed horns out of their herds.

My first billy goat, Ozzy Osboer, was three-quarters boer.  His kids were huge, so I guessed the other quarter was shetland pony.  Until last night, I’d never had any inkling that it might be anything but shetland pony.  I bred a Saanen nanny to Ozzy’s kid, Goliath Osboer.  Goliath definitely showed the size of a shetland pony (after all he would be 1/8 shetland pony).  He had longer,floppy ears, part of the boer genetics.  He was solid white, like the Saanen.  Okay, he had one half dollar patch of red on his neck.  It would make sense to guess that I would get solid white kids.

One baby girl was exactly what I expected.  You’d never guess there was anything but Saanen to her–solid white, light-colored eyes, short, pointed ears.  She is a carbon copy of her mother.  The other, is not exactly what I was expecting.  She is like nothing ever born here before.  I think she might be a glimpse into that missing quarter of Ozzy.  Perhaps Alpine, not shetland pony???


2 Responses to “Goat Genetics”

  1. dreamfarming April 4, 2014 at 9:27 am #

    you mean he’s not a pony? this made me laugh.


  1. Record Keeping for Goats « Eden Hills's Blog - January 9, 2012

    […]  For example, I pulled Luna, but it was pretty easy.  The (H) or (P) refers to whether the kid is horned or polled.  If there is nothing, both parents had horns, so the kids did […]

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