Consistency is an ideal for most herds.
But how to achieve this ideal while keeping inbreeding coefficients within a "safe" level?
This post will review the strategies that I've used and a new one that I plan to use in the coming years.
Use a limited number of sires each year
Proving a Sire
A junior sire that I am grooming is Castle Rock Captain Underpants. He checks off a lot of must-haves:
Captain's Evaluation Timeline:
September 2022: Breed to several does
February 2023: Retain a minimum of 5 doelings
2022 or 2023: Evaluate Captain in Linear Appraisal
November 2023: Breed Captain's 2023 kids to Manhattan
Fall 2023 breeding season: Captain will sit this one out
Evaluation Point - Captin is 3 years old
April 2024: Freshen Captain's 2023 doelings
If the majority of Captain's daughters evaluate well, then he will be used heavily in the 2024 breeding season.
Reference: Goat Gab episode 30 and 64
When to Outcross?
Here are some reasons to outcross:
1. To reduce COI
2. When you need to breed daughters of your focal sire.
3. When you want to improve or enhance some particular qualities (2-3, no more).
Have a shortlist of clear reasons when selecting outcross animals. A new buck can't fix everything - and may cause some damage. For example, you may introduce deleterious recessive alleles, lose some production, etc. Look for 2-3 incremental improvements (Goat Gab episode 30). For example, I brought in Cedar View Placido to improve rumps and increase production, without sacrificing correctness. I didn't know much about his sire, but I admired his dam, SGCH Cedar View Isabella 4*M 04-02 EEEE 91, an ELITE doe with a lifetime production record of 6,592 pounds.
However, I did not know if Placido would blend well with my herd. He was an expensive gamble.
Panache was much less of a gamble. I've worked with Castle Rock and Algedi genetics extensively. Panache was brought in for two reasons: to enhance mammaries and because he is polled. I hate disbudding.
His sire is Castle Rock Port Sunlight *B, an ADGA Sire Improvement Program buck. Port Sunlight's full sibling, CH Castle Rock Tahitian Sunset, has since been awarded 2019 ADGA National Champion and National Best Udder. Panache's dam, Trilogy Ranch MH Jasmine had a pedigree filled with proven animals of Algedi genetics.
While I had a good idea of what to expect from him, he was also closely related to many of my does. This made it harder to use him on the whole herd.
Captain was bought to breed to my Panache daughters. Again, I am working with (mostly) familiar genetics. However, Captain's sire line is new to my herd, which means that he can bring the COIs down to the 4-13% range. I'm hoping for improved production without sacrificing correctness, style, or attachments.
I've added the concept of style because when we talk about consistency, in part we are talking about style. Style meaning the distinctive look of goats produced by a particular herd.
A sample pedigree of a Captain's daughter:
Consistency may need to be restored after using a buck with predominantly new genetics. This can be done by breeding the outcross buck's daughters to a homebred buck.
One buck that I am evaluating for this purpose is Owlhaven P Aries. Aries is third generation Owlhaven genetics. His dam is Adele, a a young and very promising doe who received a V in mammary in linear appraisal several days before kidding, and before her capacity became apparent. Adele's mammary system exemplifies what I had hoped to gain from Placido.
Genetic weaving is a great concept that I learned from Goat Gab (episode 30, Kirt Schnipke interview).
Genetic weaving builds consistency in your herd through focused linebreeding. First, identify a small number of does who you want your herd to look like. Second, buy bucks that are closely related to your target does (sons, grandsons, brothers, nephews). Third, use doe 2's buck on daughters of doe 1's buck. Fourth, continue weaving those genetics back and forth over the generations. This will build your herd's look and train your eye. Cull animals that don't fit your desired look.
Does that meet my ideal and that I have incorporated into my genetics include the following (not an exclusive list):
One homebred buck that I am evaluating for genetic weaving is Owlhaven P Whiskey Manhattan. I'm using Manhattan because I want my doe herd to look like his dam. Whiskey is correct, stylish, and productive.
Whiskey traces back to a buck whose genetics are woven through my herd: SG NC Promiseland RC Bonafide ++*B, ELITE 2015 through 2019. Bonafide is a son of ARMCH NC PromisedLand Beau-Nita E 3*D 2*M (1xBIS, 14xBOB, 3xGCH, 16xBU, and 2008 Breed Leader for production). When selecting a sire I look at both the production evaluation and type evaluation. Bonafide's average female score is 86.5 over 12 daughters. He tends to throw strong animals with wide rumps and excellent foreudder attachments. Forty-eight percent of 29 linear appraisal records had "Excellent" mammaries, 24% had "Very Good" mammaries, 24% had "Good Plus" mammaries, and 3% had "Acceptable" mammaries. His daughters produced in the 90+ percentile over eight years.
Bonafide's genetics have been woven into my herd through Dill's BF Diamond Rio +*B (represented by Buddleia and Barbarella), Dill's GA Whiskey Lullaby (represented by Manhattan and Watermelon Martini), and Dill's GA Fascination (represented by Charisma).
The plan is to breed Manhattan to Captain's daughters.
Here's a sample pedigree:
Of course, Manhattan will have to be proven in order to assume the focal sire role. Here's his evaluation timeline.
Manhattan's Evaluation Timeline
September 2022: Breed Manhattan to several does
February 2023: Retain a minimum of five doelings
November 2023: Breed Manhattan's doelings
Fall 2023 breeding season: Manhattan won't be used
Evaluation Point - Manhattan is 3 years old
April 2024: Freshen Manhattan's daughters
Keeping a Buck Kid
Goat Gab episode 30 (with Kirt Schnipke) made some excellent points about retaining a buck that you bred.
Incorporating AI Genetics
I'm planning on using a lot of AI in the future and have a select collection of straws. An advantage of using AI to produce a sire is that you are able to bring in new genetics while preserving a certain amount of the consistency that you've already established in your herd.
Buying New Does
I've come to prefer adding new genetics by buying does instead of bucks. Here's why:
1. If all goes well, the does should pay for themselves with their first couple of litters.
2. I can see the doe close up and personal on a day to day basis and evaluate production myself.
3. I can see if the doe crosses well with my genetics before using her genetics on the whole herd via a herd sire.
4. If it doesn't work out, does are a lot easier to sell.
Returning to the topic of identifying four does that I admire. Another doe that I admire is SGCH Wood Bridge Farm Hocus Pocus 2*M, for that reason I purchased a daughter, Lil Miss B Haven Bewitched 3*M. If all goes well, Bewitched will be used to produce a future buck.
One Final Note
When I breed to produce my own herd sires, I prefer to keep a buck and a doe out of the pairing. That speeds up the evaluation process because it enables me to see udder development within a year.