The dairy goat industry in South Africa is small in comparison to the dairy cow industry. Breeding and selection of dairy goats by producers have been based on various factors such as pedigrees, conformational traits and phenotypic performances. Milk recording has been done since 1980 and lactation performances of ewes are available from 1981 (Hallowell et al., 2000). Linear regressions of production parameters for all dairy goat breeds on production year show no change in milk yield, protein percentage and protein yield from 1981 to 2000. Fat content and fat yield, however, were reduced (P < 0.05) over the same period, i.e. from 3.44 to 2.76% and 31.3 to 26.8 kg/doe (Muller, 2001). Although these parameters are influenced by environmental factors, the lack of a scientific breeding strategy for the national herd probably also contributed to this situation. Genetic improvement of farm animals requires reliable methods of determining the genetic merit of candidates for selection (Wiggans et al., 1984). The routine recording and genetic evaluation of dairy breeds have become commonplace in South Africa. No information is, however, available on genetic parameters for yield and component traits for the South African dairy goat herd.
Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 1, , 1.52, 2002
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