The beginning of genetic improvement of French dairy goats goes back to the 60's when a selection program was developed at a national scale by the National Institute of Agronomic Research (INRA) for the Alpine and Saanen breeds. The relatively rapid development of milk recording allowed the implementation of typical two-steps selection schemes for both breeds: since 1965, such schemes have included selection of parents, planned mating and progeny testing, and, in the 80's, the initial on-station progeny test evolved towards an on-farm progeny testing based on artificial insemination (Piacère et al., 2000). Since the very beginning of the selection program the main selection objective for both breeds has been the improvement of protein yield and protein content in order to warrant profit for farmers and to improve cheese yield. In 1999, fat yield and fat content were added to the selection objective (Belichon et al., 1999) to avoid an undesirable reduction of the ratio of fat over protein content. Up to 1995, type scores were nonlinear and they were used mainly for culling of dams and sires. In 1995, the "Institut de l’Elevage" and the French Breeders’ Association "Caprigène France" defined new linear scores for type appraisal and, since 2000, a new genetic evaluation is being conducted for linear type traits. Methods and software used for genetic evaluation of French dairy goats benefit from the evolutions of dairy cattle genetic evaluation. First methods applied to dairy goats were based on modified contemporary comparison principles (Poutous et al., 1981). Since then, methods and models have evolved: use of BLUP in an animal model with repeated records (Boichard et al., 1992), consideration of heterogeneous variances (RobertGranié et al., 1999) for dairy traits, and multiple trait genetic evaluation for type traits (Ducrocq, 1992). The objective of this article is to describe the characteristics of present genetic evaluation of dairy goats in France, to report estimates of genetic trends for dairy traits in the Alpine and Saanen breeds, and to discuss perspectives for genetic evaluation.

V. Clement, Didier Boichard, A. Piacere, A. Barbat, E. Manfredi

Proceedings of the World Congress on Genetics Applied to Livestock Production, Volume 2002. Session 1, , 1.46, 2002
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